Hi! My name is Azizah, I am a new mom of a beautiful 14 month old son and mashAllah, am currently expecting again! I am originally from the island of Trinidad and Tobago although I was born and raised in North Jersey. I love to sew, bake, race and have had several years of modeling experience with companies like Nike, Toys R Us, Vogue, ModaMantraMagazine, and Fast Company. I was on NBC News for an interview about modest fashion and modeling (link below). Since then, I have also modeled for several smaller companies including Headed Somewear! For me it’s all about representing modest fashion with confidence, something I didn’t get to see as a covering Muslim growing up.
In my childhood, I would say my mom and grandmother were the biggest influences in my life. My mother was a single mom, separated, and raised me with help from my grandparents.
In my childhood, I would say my mom and grandmother were the biggest influences in my life. My mother was a single mom, separated, and raised me with help from my grandparents. While my grandmother was more conservative, my mother was liberal but also taught me the importance of Islam. She never made us feel like we didn’t have to do something or that we did. She was very understanding in many ways. My grandmother was more traditional in both a cultural and religious way. She always wanted me to wear my hijab because I was Muslim, and study this and do that. My mother was the one who instilled the independence, go-out-and-get-it attitude I have. My grandmother one the other hand was the one who inspired more of the Islam side of things and how dressing modestly was ‘everything’ in our religion. Even though both taught me to be who I am both Islamically and culturally, I feel like because they each had their strong suits, I got a mixed upbringing. I feel like it has helped prepare me for being a mother of not one, but two children inshAllah very soon.
I remember my mom had asked me in the beginning if I thought what I was doing would cause a change. I remember telling her, “Yes, I do.” In my mind, it was always even if it was a SMALL change, as small as a speck of dust, it was a change nonetheless.
Growing up, I never saw any West Indian woman in the media. It was especially hard since when you’re young, all you want to do is fit in. Of course, when you’re older, you realize it’s better to be different. As a hijabi, it took me a couple of years to really find my sense of fashion and style. I really wanted to show other girls that you can wear a hijab and still be fashionable. There are so many ways to wear the headscarf – with pants, skirts, and abayas. You can wear hijab this way or that way – and it’s completely up to you, your style, and your sense of comfort. This type of creative expression with regards to fashion is what inspired me to model and even though my grandmother and mom were a bit skeptical of it at first, they saw the success coming in and were happy. I remember my mom had asked me in the beginning if I thought what I was doing would cause a change. I remember telling her, “Yes, I do.” In my mind, it was always even if it was a SMALL change, as small as a speck of dust, it was a change nonetheless.
Now, as a mother, I have learned that raising children is harder work than a 9-5 job because it NEVER stops. When you come home from a regular job, you can relax and have some personal time. Here, being a mom is a 24-hour job, all around the clock. You have to constantly put another life before your own. Each decision you make, you subconsciously think of your child. For example, just the other day I had a $200 dress in my cart and I was about to buy it. I got to the register and I just couldn’t go through with it. I was thinking of just how much I could get for my children with that money and I ended up putting the dress away.
Finding the will to get up everyday and fulfill that day without any help or relying on anyone else is true independence.
Each day is a struggle but a blessing, both at once. Aside from taking care of my son, as a stay-at-home-mom, I take care of the entire house as well since my husband works in a different state and his commute is very difficult. I am always the one running to the grocery store, doing the laundry, cleaning, cooking and more. I am also currently preparing for a second child and preparing to move. I feel like all this requires some level of independence and being tough enough to prioritize. I definitely got that side from my mother. Finding the will to get up everyday and fulfill that day without any help or relying on anyone else is true independence.
I always say that I may not work, but I am working to keep a household together. Often, the stay-at-home-mom vs the working mom debate always ties to the salary received and I feel like that’s unfair.
We were all raised by mothers, teachers, and other strong people in our lives. No one should demean a mother’s choice for choosing to stay at home and raise her family, just like no one should criticize someone for doing the opposite.
Everyone defines a job as working and receiving monetary value at the end but in my eyes, a job is putting hard work into whatever you’re doing, and get ANY sort of positive outcome out of it. I feel like people often forget that so many of our mothers were stay-at-home-moms. Even though my mother wasn’t, my grandmother was, as well as so many other women in our communities. Do we feel like the work these women did was not enough, simply because they did not receive money for their work? None of us fell out of the sky as an adult worker. We were all raised by mothers, teachers, and other strong people in our lives. No one should demean a mother’s choice for choosing to stay at home and raise her family, just like no one should criticize someone for doing the opposite.
I feel like my mother, grandmother, as well as my experiences as a model and mother myself have shaped me to be a strong, independent woman. I feel like my son and second child have a mother they can look up to, one who will work hard to keep the household together. I look forward to going back to modeling after life settles down and this second child comes- but for now, all I will continue to do is balance everything with the help of Allah.