Models can also be role models and Hanan Ibrahim is proof of this. The 26-year-old from Melbourne works to empower young women and help them celebrate their differences.
We sat down with Hanan to chat about what it means to be a Muslim woman in the fashion industry, giving back to the commuinty, and of course – in typical crèmm fashion – her all-time favourite shoes.
Name Hanan Ibrahim
Occupation radiation therapist and model
Hey Hanan, thanks for chatting with us. If you had to pick five words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Compassionate, spiritual, loyal, curious, and spontaneous.
Tell us about what’s most important in your life?
Love. Whether that be in my relationships with God, family, friends, community, nature or animals. I believe it is the all-encompassing thing that saves us.
What are you working on at the moment?
My day-to-day involves working in the treatment of cancer patients as a radiation therapist. When I’m not doing that, you can find me modelling or working on my startup that involves trauma healing yoga, and the empowerment of young women through leadership programs.
If you do happen to get some spare time, how do you like to spend it?
Eat brunch with family and friends, visit art galleries and exhibitions, hike, spend time in forests/parks/beaches, organise leadership programs for young women from disadvantaged backgrounds, tutor, shop, read, attend spoken word/poetry nights, and practice yoga.
Can you tell us your fashion style?
My fashion sense is influenced by my mum’s vintage style, my heritage, and mood. I love being comfortable so you can find me in jeans and sneakers on any given day. I am also heavily inspired by high fashion and love creating bold looks using bright colours.
And how did you get into modelling?
I was at a fashion event where I met a designer who asked me to walk in her show for VAMFF – and the rest is history!
What does it mean to you to be a Muslim woman working in the fashion industry?
To work in an industry that many of us young Muslim girls were raised in, but never felt represented in is a huge honor and privilege. I am part of a movement in which runways and magazines are beginning to reflect our world, and all the different shapes, tones, sizes in it rather than the narrow definition of beauty that has dominated the fashion industry for too long. Younger girls in my community growing up as minorities can now scroll through their feed, flip through a magazine and see themselves represented – whether they can relate to me as a black woman or spiritually – as a visible Muslim. It would mean the world to inspire one young girl and make her feel less alone in a world that has been designed to separate us but is slowly shifting to one that is celebrating our differences.
Have you faced any challenges during your time a model?
Yes I have, more than most souls should bare.
And what’s your biggest career achievement to-date?
Helping young women from disadvantaged backgrounds build leadership skills in my work as a project officer at the Australian Multicultural Foundation. Then working as a radiation therapist in one of Melbourne's most esteemed hospitals. And also being the first Muslim model in Australia to walk fashion week runways wearing a hijab.
Any advice for those trying to figure out their personal style?
Mood boards are your go-to! If you love something, buy it and wear it, regardless of whether its ‘trendy’ right now. Being shamelessly you will always be in fashion.
Tell us about your favourite pair of shoes.
A pair of handmade oxford style shoes I bought in Morocco where the artisan crafted them to fit my foot and had them ready in two days. They’re my favourite not only because they’re so beautifully designed and lasted for years, but because I was lucky enough to witness part of the process in watching ateliers work, so carefully, with old fashioned movements, freehand and with exquisite craftsmanship. I was so touched by their passion for creating new styles that were still steeped in a sense of authenticity and tradition.
So tell us, what’s the most unique thing about you?
The essence of who I am makes me unique – and this is contributed to by my journey in life, my identity, ethnicity, culture, faith and passions.
What does crèmm’s motto, ‘Own You’ mean to you?
To me, owning myself means choosing to live in my truth every day.
Have you ever felt pressure to follow the crowd or blend in?
As a minority, I’ve definitely been pressured into camouflaging into society so that I am less intimidating and more acceptable – not just in the way that I look but in my thoughts and beliefs. I am from a culture where we speak openly about religion, politics, and trauma in our day-to-day, but my experience has taught me that many spaces in our society deem these topics too heavy and unacceptable. Honestly, this is something that I am still navigating and an ongoing challenge. The one thing that has helped me the most is surrounding myself with people who are like-minded and hold space for me, even when I stumble.
What advice would you give those who feel pressured to conform?
Be uncompromisingly you and be shameless about it. Don’t let society’s expectation of who you are fool you into being someone you’re not. Only you know who you are, and suffocating that to make other people happy will destroy you. I wish I could make people understand how important they are, everything you are matters in ways most of us can’t comprehend. Rumi says, “Stop acting so small, you are the universe in ecstatic motion” and I believe this completely.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing our generation?
Global health, political chaos, and climate change
What are you most passionate about?
Giving back to the less fortunate and sharing world resources. We have enough in this world for everyone to live healthy and wealthy but greed is, unfortunately, the name of the current game. I want to look back at my life at 80 and be proud that I used the privileges I have been granted to make some tangible differences in others’ lives.
If you could tell a stranger one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Some of my deepest secrets, I’ve shared with complete strangers. Sometimes it’s easier and less risky telling someone you don’t know exactly how you feel, like therapy, yeah, just like therapy hahaha.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“What can you do today, that was better than yesterday. Compete only with your past self” - my mum. Growing up she never compared me with other people, or made me compete even with my own siblings. She was always reminding me to reflect on my own actions and be the best version of me.
What’s next for you?
2020 plans include traveling as a model, collaborating with creatives to make art, progressing in my radiation therapy career and saying yes to every opportunity that serves me.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Successful in my careers, content in my relationships, and in full-time service to the most vulnerable of humanity.
This year I’ll… walk a fashion show in New York
My favourite podcast is... Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday
If I were an animal I’d be... a Giraffe – elegant, friendly giants
Celebrity crush… Dave East
If I was a shoe, I’d be… a Manolo Blahnik heeled sandal
My ultimate dinner party guest would be… Maya Angelou
My last meal would be... fried chicken with waffles and ice cream
Right now I’m listening to… My Spotify top songs of 2019
I’d spend my last $500 on… a fun, food-filled day out with my siblings
Cheese or chocolate… ooooh I’m on the fence..choceese haha
My favourite person is… my mum
My ultimate holiday destination… Zanzibar
My fave fashion purchase… my collection of vintage Turkish-inspired hijabs
I’m most proud of... living my truth
If I could have one wish it’d be… to end violence against women and children worldwide
The last pair of shoes I purchased was… Nike React Element 55 trainers