Before her appearance in an H&M sustainability campaign that has the fashion-loving world talking, Mariah Idrissi hadn't modeled once. As she told CNN, the 23-year-old London native didn't even submit the photo that got her the gig:
Born and raised in London to a Pakistani mother and Moroccan father, Mariah Idrissi, 23, got her photo submitted to H&M by her casting director friend.
"It was just a one-off, I didn't plan on it getting this big," she tells CNN, laughing.
Idrissi, who describes herself on Instagram (which, for the style-interested, is well worth following) as both a "professional hijabi model" and "professional motivational speaker," now finds herself at the center of the fashion world's biggest story since New York Fashion Week. Her appearance in a video for the "Close the Loop" campaign marks the first appearance of a hijab-wearing Muslim woman in any of the second-largest fashion retailer's materials.
As the appearance has ignited debate on social media about whether it's appropriate for someone to wear a hijab as fashion, Idrissi has responded with attention to the complexity of the matter at hand:
"I've seen a few comments where [people are] against it, but there's nothing that says there is anything against it. In our religion, anything that's not stated as forbidden is permissible," she says.
"As long as I'm dressed correctly, according to Islam, then there's no problem," she adds. "It's just promoting the hijab, in a way. If anything, it's good."
"I would say, make sure your intentions are correct in terms of why you're doing it. Hijab isn't a fashion," she says. "We can adjust it to fashion, but we have to remember that the sole purpose of the hijab is to be modest."
"If you know you haven't corrected your inside first, there's no point in putting a hijab on for the fashion side of it. Because then you're defeating the object."