Make-up Shake Up: YouTube’s Muslim Make-up Sensation

The MMW Friday link lists often highlights the disparity between non-Muslim perception of Muslim women’s experiences and the lives Muslim women actually live.

Hence the recent spate of incredulous articles about hijab fashion websites. For Muslim women, the concept of hijab fashion is nothing new, but for Western journalists, Muslim women having the inclination and freedom for frivolity is unexpected.

So for me and I expect many readers of this site, a Muslimah giving make-up tutorials on YouTube is no big surprise. Especially considering the maximalist approach to make-up favored in many Muslim-majority countries.

Makeupadikt, aka Asma Yakub, is a U.K.-based sister with 60 videos on her channel. Her tutorials cover western, Arab, and Bollywood make-up styles as well, color schemes, tips and hijab style.

Her videos are shot at home and scheduled around her work as a freelance architect and looking after her two children. Despite this, she has over 23,000 subscribers, is #27 on the list of Most Subscribed Gurus on YouTube and her Facebook page has over 10,000 fans. When you consider that she has only been posting videos for just over a year, the statistics become even more impressive.

As someone who has to dust off their make-up bag before I (occasionally) use its contents, I may not be the most qualified to explain her success. However, I think her appeal may be due to the way she provides step-by-step guides of the type of dramatic looks that are difficult to perfect without someone guiding you, unless you want to use a ton of cotton wool and patience to wipe away any mistakes.

Asma covers her hair in her videos and has made some hijab how-to videos. Aside from that, she doesn’t mention Islam in her videos (that’s a statement of fact, not a criticism). However on her channel page she makes a clear statement to any holier-than-thou haters:

“If you are Muslim and you don’t like what I am doing then just don’t watch. There is no point writing viscous comments since they will be removed and you will be blocked” (sic)

While the popular misconception is that Muslim women live in fear of death or violence if they are perceived to “step out of line,” the actual truth is far more mundane; hordes of Internet warriors telling you just how haram you are.

She then reminds any Islamophobe commenters that their comments are equally unwelcome. This neatly skewers the twin torments of any Muslimah who dares to stand out: a disapproving community telling you that you are too bad for your religion and the bigoted and ill-informed saying your religion is too bad for you (and society).

Intriguingly, she is less forthcoming concerning her ethnicity, stating that she “Doesn’t believe in categorizing herself so crudely.” She is entitled to this stance, but it makes me wonder, not what her ethnicity is, but why she does not wish to disclose it. Is it fear of racism or prejudice? Or because by putting herself in one category, some may find her multi-ethnic make up less appealing or authentic?

Asma’s slogan is “Embrace Your Inner Diva!” While I fear my inner diva may not be the touchy feely sort, I do feel her channel is a very positive representation of how vibrant Muslim women can bust through the pallid stereotypes.

Thanks to Farhad C. for the tip!

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