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Glitzy, ritzy, niqabi: Meet 'Amy Roko', a fully veiled Saudi fashion model Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Glitzy, ritzy, niqabi: Meet 'Amy Roko', a fully veiled Saudi fashion model

Amy Roko stars among fellow Arab influencers in the driving-themed photo shoot [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 May, 2019

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‘I told y’all I’ll be a model’: A subversive social media star is breaking frontiers for modest fashionistas by starring in her first magazine campaign that champions the niqab.
A fully veiled Saudi social media sensation is causing a splash in the fast-growing world of modest fashion by starring in a glamorous magazine photo shoot clad in a high-fashion niqab.

Operating under the pseudonym Amy Roko, the Instagram star has gained a 1.3 million-strong following on Instagram, where she pokes fun at restrictions placed on women in the ultra-conservative kingdom and smashes stereotypes that niqabi women don't always have to be "modest".

Roko, who wears the face veil in her daily life, stars among several other high-profile influencers from the Gulf in the fashion shoot, dressed in matching jewel-coloured abayas and cinched with an a la mode belted blazer.

The women pose with vintage cars, a salute to the lifting of Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers that was ostensibly lifted last year.

"I told y'all I'll be a model. Now the rest of the bucket list left," joked Rokko in the caption.

Before the driving ban was lifted, Roko was outspoken in criticising the restrictions placed on women in the kingdom. In one of her comedy clips, she films herself riding a skateboard in high heels along the streets of Riyadh, joking that women have found alternative modes of transport.

The social media sensation told AJ+ in 2015 interview she supports those campaigning against the driving ban "100%".

Read more: The year of the Muslim model

"My life would be so much easier if I could drive to my college, to the hospital, to the bookstore. Because depending on people is nerve-wracking to me. You know I'm on board and supporting of whatever empowers women," she added.

Rokko has also expressed her fearlessness in using comedy to defy stereotypes of Saudi women, especially those who choose to wear the face veil.

"Because of the image associated with the niqab (timid, scared, fragile, low voice), [...] I come out and that in itself is a challenge to the people, because hey, I’m the opposite of what a niqabi should be and it bothered a lot of people. But it also appealed to others," she told AJ+.

Read more: Muslim supermodel Halima Aden poses in hijab, burkini for Sports Illustrated

As part of championing the cause for more diversity in fashion, it seems Roko wants niqabi representation to empower girls and women around the world.

"I see women as powerful beings because they are. I'm not hating on men, but I'm trying to make my voice reach all these clueless young girls."

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