LOS ANGELES: Playboy magazine, once famous for bunnies and soft porn, for the first time is featuring a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, in a spread that is drawing both praise and criticism.
American journalist Noor Tagouri appears in the magazine’s October “Renegades” edition, a series that focuses on men and women “who risked it all — even their lives — to do what they love.”
The 22-year-old journalist who works as a reporter for Newsy, a video news network, is featured wearing a black leather jacket, jeans, sneakers and a hijab, or headscarf, in the publication that describes her as “a badass activist.”
Tagouri, who is of Libyan descent and whose goal is to become the first “hijabi” anchor on commercial US television, says that her struggles as a Muslim woman growing up in the United States have helped her move ahead in her career.
“I know what it’s like to have the narrative of our community be skewed and exploited in the media,” she told Playboy, which did away with nudity earlier this year as it sought to appeal to a wider audience.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I know what it’s like to be misrepresented in the media. I won’t do that to you. I want to tell your story because it’s important and deserves justice.’”
Tagouri, who has a social media following of more than 100,000, first gained attention after launching the viral #LetNoorShine campaign in 2012.
Her appearance in the revamped Playboy is being hailed by many as a breakthrough, but others have hit out at the young woman.
“Playboy is synonymous with pornography,” read an article in The Muslim Vibe, an online magazine.
“It has been at the forefront of the objectification, sexualisation and commodification of women for decades and just because they’ve softened their image, it doesn’t mean we can begin to engage with the platform and jump on board.”
Blogger Nishaat Ismail also questioned in an opinion column the wisdom of Tagouri associating with an institution “based on the objectification of women.”
“Are the voices of women — and in particular Muslim women — buried so deep under the cries of those who claim to speak on our behalf that our only available response is (to) involve ourselves with Playboy, a magazine that has solely existed for the past 63 years for men to gawp at the bodies of half-naked women?” wrote Nishaat.
“Is this really how we reclaim our own narrative?”