Wonder Woman, by Nora
A young Canadian woman has struck a blow for Muslim girls’ representation in the pop culture zeigeist.
Nora, a 17-year old Tumblr user, has remade the super-hero world in her image, drawing herself as her favourite superheroines, but with a minor, but very critical, difference: Nora’s Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Thor, and Spiderman – among others – have been redrawn in more modest clothes and donning the Islamic veil.
On Tumblr, Nora writes: “To clarify the art: I am a muslim girl who wears the hijab and prefers to wear long/loose things that go below the butt.”
Of her work, Jonathan Moya writes, “Fan art usually demonstrates potential artistic ability, but almost never a potential superhero self. It always remains a secret identity. (…) Nora’s Hijab Heroines are not only expressions of her secret artistic identities but extensions of her culture and religious ethos. You see, Nora is a young and deeply deeply devoted Muslim woman.”
Much like Equinox, the Cree superhero drawn by Jeff Lemire at DC Comics, these Canadian superheroines are slowly, pen stroke by pen stroke, carving out a much-needed space for diversity and girls’ empowerment.
Loki, by Nora
And again like Equinox, who was based on the late, amazing young activist Shannen Koostachin and created in consultation with First Nations communities in Moosonee and Moose Factory, Nora’s heroines are refreshing because they are not meant to be inclusive or token heroines, but rather, they are rooted in the legitimacy of Nora’s own experiences as a young Muslim-Canadian woman. And just as importantly, because they defy the received idea that young women who chose to wear the hijab are oppressed.
(P.S. Anyone who is tempted to argue that the mainstream’s Wonder Woman is less oppressed or more liberated than Nora’s versions, might want to look into the latest iteration of Wonder Woman, who is meant to be ‘strong, but not feminist.’)
Katniss, by Nora
Amal Awad’s analysis of the Burka Avenger (a Pakistani superheroine who fights for education) also resonates with Nora’s creations: “Unlike other veiled superheroes, this isn’t about tokenistic acceptance in a mainstream graphic novel/comic book universe, nor is it steeped in rich mythology and metaphor.”
Nora’s Black Widow
Annie Stephens of Daily Life quotes Awad, leveraging her analysis to provide us with insights into Nora’s creations:
“‘The avenger is using her modesty to protect her identity to fight for justice and education. It’s very cleverly using an imposed value as a strength, and that’s empowering. The fact that she’s wearing the burka means that young girls are going to be able relate to the character and draw strength from the fact that she is one of them.’
The same could be said of a hijab wearing Wonder Woman. Go Nora!”
Indeed: Go Nora!
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