In its heyday, Playboy magazine didn’t usually stray far from scantily clad women. Last year, however, the magazine switched gears and no longer publishes nude photographs. While that was shocking enough, Playboy‘s latest issue — under the heading “The Renegades” — has readers even more surprised.
The issue features a series of single-minded men and women, selected to challenge the way readers think about business, music, porn, comedy, gaming, and more. “They’ve risked it all — even their lives — to do what they love, showing us what can be accomplished if we break the rules,” is the way Playboy describes it.
All the renegades had eye-opening stories, but one woman who was included, American journalist Noor Tagouri, wears a hijab — which marks the first time a hijab has ever been featured in the magazine.
Even more unexpectedly, Tagouri actually makes a case for modesty in the interview — not exactly what Playboy is known for. She’s unapologetically herself, both as a journalist and an aspiring on-air reporter for commercial U.S. television, and she likes to make those who meet her question why the world has such difficulty comprehending a woman who intentionally covers her head and dresses conservatively.
One read through her interview, and you’ll be impressed by her burning desire to break down such barriers as sexism and Islamophobia, not only for Muslim women, but for women in general.
While many have praised Noor for getting Muslim women the positive visibility they rarely receive, plenty of others, especially on social media, criticized her decision to appear in Playboy. See some of their brutal reactions below:
Hijabi posing for playboy… what has the world come too… #hoejabi
— Chayad Miah (@ChayadMiah) September 25, 2016
It’s an insult to the hijab that playboy has featured a hijabi. I can’t accept that, playboy and hijab are not compatible on any grounds.
— Nūr (@nuraleb) September 24, 2016
Even some prominent news sources, like the British newspaper the Independent, were not impressed: “While most have not been critical of the content of her interview, many have questioned Tagouri’s judgement in appearing in a publication which has built an empire on objectifying women. This is a pioneering female journalist, after all, who has been lauded as an embodiment of female empowerment. Did she let us all down?”
While it’s true that Noor chose to be featured in a magazine that has been considered degrading towards women, the point here is that she’s injecting the perspective of a Muslim woman — a group of women who are often misunderstood and misrepresented — into the media. Slate said it best: “Criticizing Playboy magazine’s role in controlling women’s lives seems very hypocritical when debating a Muslim woman’s right to share her story with a journalist working with that publication.”
Read more about Noor and the other renegades featured in Playboy’s October issue here. Their stories have a lot to offer.