Nikohl Boosheri as Adena El Amin in The Bold Type

I’ve been watching the Bold Type and to say the least I am utterly astounded.

A muslim woman. As a recurring character. In a Hollywood show and not connected to any terrorist activities. Shocker

But wait for it. She is more than that.

She is “A Proud Lesbian Muslim Woman” Yes, you heard that correct, Adena El Amin, an Iranian photographer working in the States is a les-bi-an mu-s-lim wo-man.

She wears the hijab in the most fashionable way, a turban, as a statement of empowerment. Yes girl! But pairing it with deep necks and short dresses… I’m sorry no.

Doesn’t drink and prays five times a day (something they got right) but somehow is well known and integrated in the only lesbian bar in New York? Hmm.

Spoiler ahead*

She is in a relationship with a queer black woman, Kat Edison, the director of social media at Scarlet Magazine and be sure Kat is not the first sexual partner she has been with but rather there have been “many.” Umm…

If I put aside the “lesbian” factor for a moment then I see her as bold, confident and unapologetic. She is undoubtedly a hardcore feminist and proud of her identity, the first portfolio of her work we are introduced to is all about muslim women, wearing the burqa and niqaab holding signs that make them relatable as any other woman, “Hopeless Romantic”, . Adena initially comes across as a muslim woman aiming to change how muslim women are defined and she wants to make sure she is able to do so in the correct space. I will not deny that the idea was great, understated and subtle. A hooker none the less for an audience member that has been craving to see representation in Hollywood.

But…

Is this the representation we need? Has Islamophobia run so deep in America that even Hollywood cannot make the ‘bold’ decision to accurately depict a muslim character. Why do muslims have to exist on two extremes of the spectrum, either a brown man from a muslim country connected to a terrorist organisation or a woman utterly absorbed into western ideals that she has completely changed the definition of being a muslim.

Homosexuality and wearing a turban as a liberal statement to counter the notions of conservatism and backwardness against the hijab, by liberalists themselves?

Its a mouthful I know.

No doubt a struggle exists regarding sexuality and trying to define one’s identity and with a growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community all over the world, the binary forms of gender are seen as old school and out dated. Be sure I do not hold anything against the LGBTQ community but when it comes to a complete defilement of my faith, I will speak against it.

Showing muslims as progressive does not have to translate into them being westernised. Countering islamophobia should not done through mis-representation of Islam itself. What statement is the West making by creating such characters? That to be accepted into our society you have to first qualify as being western enough? A muslim is non-threatening as long as it follows the current trends of society? or simply that a muslim will only be allowed to have a voice as long as it comes from the mouth of the west?

I guess I understand why this character has a fandom on the internet and not a hate club.

But what I’m still trying to figure out why is there no noise about an undeniable problematic ideal being set.

Bold Type arrived on Netflix earlier this year however has been on air for the past 4 years with its 5th and final season currently running. I only heard of the show as it came on the giant entertainment platform and has been quite a source of commotion on my social media feed since then and safe to say, has been recommended to me by almost every female friend of mine.

“It’s such a light show. You’ll enjoy it. It’s a feel good”

The plot that revolves around three energetic, risk-taking and “bold’ women in their mid twenties, working at a fictional women’s magazine, ‘Scarlet.” The minimum drama and maximum female friendship is no doubt an attention grabber for all but why does it allow us to overlook the massive predicament in plain-sight.

Nikohl Boosheri, the actress who played the role of Adena El Amin, originally auditioned for the role of Sutton, an aspiring fashion stylist but she was rejected for the role and instead called to send in an audition for a lesbian muslim artist.

One can easily question why a woman of colour other than black, is not casted as one of the leading roles. Will it take another century for the definition of diversity to expand to include colours other than black? Why is a woman of colour immediately to be the “outsider.” The character herself faces many problems at immigration, a realistic portrayal of the kind of treatment muslims face when entering the states through legal means and the struggle they go through to be just let in the country. Additionally, there is no denying of the powerful scene that showed white supremacy at its height when *Kat and Adena are walking down the streets with Adena talking on the phone in Persian and a white man passing by asserts she should return to where she came from.

The show has to be given credit for where its due but I still question how is Hollywood allowed to run a manipulated idea of a faith without being questioned?

It seems Hollywood came up with the most non-threatening, westernised notion of what a muslim needs to be to be accepted into western society and just like every other white trend in society, if you do not accept it then you’re not a modernist.

I’ll leave you with one last thought; do you think Adena’s character would have still been popular if she was not a lesbian?

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Aamnah Mansoor

I'm a 22 year old trying to make sense of this outlandish world.