A personal decision or a public action? Followers’ reaction to a hijabista’s decision to unveil
Keywords:Social media, Influencers, Reception theory, Hijabistas
This article looks at the encoding-decoding process in the communication between hijabi influencers and their audience, focusing on the case of the influencer Amena Khan. A hijabi influencer based in the UK, Khan acquired the status of a microcelebrity over her decade-long social media presence. In 2018, Khan was chosen as L’Oreal’s first hijabi model. Khan removed her hijab recently. She received mostly negative reactions to her move reflected in the comments on her YouTube video “Change”. I collected some of the YouTube comments on the video to examine her audience’s response. In light of reception theory, this study divides the comments into oppositional, negotiated or dominant. Khan’s case reveals how a niche audience identify with hijabistas, decode their messages, and react to their content. This study showcases the representational role played by hijabi influencers and the limitations of their ability to “influence” when their content challenges dominant cultural discourses.
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