By Drew Farmer –
The October issue of Women’s Running magazine has become the first U.S. health and fitness publication to showcase a hijabi on its cover.
The issue’s cover star is Rahaf Khatib, founder of Run Like a Hijabi, an Instagram account that displays the runner’s inspirational and personal running photos. Khatib started her social media photo account after participating in marathons, triathlons and other races where she saw a lack of other women wearing a hijab.
According to Women’s Running, Khatib began her Instagram account as a way to “defy stereotypes and encourage my Muslim sisters.”
The magazine has emphasized diversity by featuring a variety of cover stars from all walks of life. Previous covers have featured a plus-size model, a transgender woman and a woman with autism.
Khatib, a mother of three from Michigan, hopes other Muslim women will be encouraged by her story. Khatib wants other hijabis to not worry about how others will judge them based on their appearance.
“Don’t be afraid of how you’re going to be perceived,” Khatib told Women’s Running. “That should be the last thing on your mind. Go out there and do your thing.”
Khatib has finished six full marathons and has two triathlons under her belt. Meanwhile, she has finished a variety of half marathons, too.
The publicity she has received from the magazine cover is proof her message is reaching other Muslim and non-Muslim women. Khatib has just under 6,000 followers on Instagram, but that number is sure to grow following her cover debut.
Khatib isn’t the first American athlete or public figure to raise awareness of women wearing hijabs in sports in 2016. At the Summer Olympics, Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first U.S. athlete to compete wearing a hijab. The Olympic fencer was part of the USA team that won bronze in the sabre.
Muhammad and Khatib are part of the changing face of America and sports within the country.
Khatib told Women’s Running about her delight in being chosen to be on the October issue’s cover.
“It’s something I can show to my kids in the future, my community and most importantly, my parents,” she said.
Along with wearing a hijab, Khatib is an accomplished runner, and in the changing times of the United States, should be seen just as that. She is no different than other runners or athletes. The running community has long had a sense of unity and togetherness, and now Women’s Running is promoting that union with Khatib on its cover.