The Disney hijab controversy

I had a different post for today, but breaking news just had to trump it this time.

If you haven’t heard yet, apparently last week a Muslim woman in California decided to sue Disneyland for not allowing her to wear hijab to work.

Well I just read some news articles that stated how Disney came up with a form of hijab for her to wear that would still be in line with the costume that she wears at her job.

The woman is refusing to accept that as an option and says it’s embarrassing and she will not wear it.

This has left me extremely curious as to what this looks like and I found an image here.

Personally, I think if that is indeed what the outfit looks like, there is nothing wrong with it. I was actually quite shocked to see that Disney came up with an alternative.

If you have ever been to visit Disney you’ll have noticed that everyone that works there has to follow some sort of uniform or costume depending on what they are representing. Even people who work in restaurants are expected to dress according to the theme.

Now, I agree that she shouldn’t be reprimanded for wearing something because of her personal religious dress code. But as a hijabi myself, I think it’s pretty cool to have a company that is willing to give you an alternative that fits in with the costume and the definition of hijab all wrapped up in one (no pun intended lol).

As someone who is involved in the entertainment/media business, I know that it’s very hard to find roles and jobs in which you can wear hijab. Most people woudn’t even be creative enough to find a way to fit in your dress code and would basically never offer you a job.

What are your thoughts? Do you think she’s right not to accept the alternative hijab for her costume?

Here are some additional resources:

An editorial from the LA Times that details the costumes worn in the restaurant.

Watch a snippet from the press conference:

This article has 25 comments

  1. Maseeha

    Salaams every1. Wat an awesome site! Im from South Africa and im so grateful that muslimahs in my country are allowed to wear the hijaab in the work place. We are a minority here but our constitunal rights are always upheld. Looking foward to more interesting articles:-)

  2. NMAT

    Have you ever seen Snow White or Cinderella wearing a hijab??? Or Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck/ etc???

  3. NMAT

    Why would a muslim be working at Disney? They are know for the fairy tales and fantasies. In the Islam world, there can only be one truth the Qaran. Any anything else is wrong, including fairy tales that doesn’t tell the true story of Allah, just of a fairy godmother with magic. Also Disney was known as a attention to detail where men had to be clean shaven. Women could only wear dime sized earring, and it was measured, there was as the military calls it a uniform inspection for every Disney employee before work. Why say I am a muslim and I won’t go by your rules. But Disney pays her salary and it is a private company can make their own rules and regulation. So, your amenment right is on your off time. Pray on your off time is all I would say.

  4. LK

    They made a perfectly acceptable alternative for her. I’m not sure what her problem is. If a woman came in and said “I only want to wear a sleeveless shirt” and she refused to wear the proper uniform she would be fired for not following the rules. Here, because its her religion, they developed an alternative to which she refused. She refused the alternative, so that is her problem not Disney’s. YAY to Disney for trying, but this girl doesn’t seem to want to compromise :/.

  5. Zahira

    I read the article, but I didn’t watch the video. Based off of the article, it sounds almost like she’s being difficult. Maybe this is just a biased article, but I don’t see anything wrong with the hijab alternative :/ Even just wearing the hat with an amira scarf underneath sounds acceptable. I don’t know all the details, but this article puts hijabis in a bad light…

  6. Noor

    I just watched the video. My question is: If a hat is okay then what’s wrong with allowing her to wear hijab? I personaly do believe it is discriminatory in that Disney does not want to appear that they are promoting Islam. They want to put a disney hat over her hijab so that she does not appear as a Muslim.

  7. Noor

    I grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was practically my 2nd home. Basically, anywhere you go in the park people are in uniform/costume. So even if a person is working behind a counter they will be wearing something to promote the Disney image that is often more attune to a costume than a uniform. I think this is where the hijab became an issue. I can understand her feeling discriminated against. Time and again women who wear hijab are coming up against this type of thing. Remember the whole Acrocrombie & Fitch fiasco where the woman was told she was not projecting the right image with her hijab? It’s difficult these days because large and small corporations are so branded and they are very sensitive to anything that distracts from that image.

  8. lailah

    i think she should take the hat if she can wear her scarf under it but if she’s refusing that then i think she’s going to sue either way to get money or some compensation

  9. Fatin

    when i first read the post and saw the picture, i thought hmm.. she should just take it but after i looked closely to the link in the post to her picture and clicked on the captian link under the picture and this is what it says ***** In this photo provided by Unite Here Local 11, Imane Boudlal is shown wearing a hat-and-bonnet that Disney suggested she wear after refusing to let her wear a Muslim head scarf at work. Boudlal, who’s a restaurant hostess at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, says Disney’s suggested hat-and-bonnet is embarrassing and makes a joke of her religion.**** i started to think… hmm.. well.. maybe they wanted her to wear it and her neck will be showing because remember … she will be wearing it without her hijab under… it will be only.. the shirt you see in the picture, and the hat and bonnet and thats it…… no coverage to the neck.

  10. aamina

    I think to be honest surprisingly Disney has made a good compromise, they’ve given her an alternative that suits their needs and meets the requirements of the hijab. I personally would go for the option. I’m just a bit weary that seeing a big corporation such as Disney make realistic compromises (which is a good thing) and still find that she is resisting this, might make other people generalise that Muslims aren’t willing to give compromise and additionally make other corporations/businesses less inclined to make that compromise when faced with this problem themselves.

  11. Mariam Sobh

    Valerie you’re not a bad person for not wearing hijab. Don’t be so hard on yourself 🙂
    I agree with the main question that it seems we are all wondering about..
    What does the regular costume look like, and how does she fit in with the rest of the crowd?
    At the same time, if she did wear her hijab she’d still stick out.. so either way it’s the same thing in my opinion.
    I’ll add a few more links to this post so you can see her interview and read more about the costume at that restaurant.

  12. Rania

    I think the clothes offered by Disney meet the requirement of Hijab, and there’s nothing wrong to wear a hat over hijab. I agree with Nadia that make me worried is that people who read this story will think that muslims aren’t flexible. This will make a bad image for all other muslims. But, it’s just my thoughts, we don’t know the whole story about it…

  13. Aisha

    Man! I have no idea what she wants from it – after seeing the picture, I think it’s pretty normal, there is nothing wrong with it, and it is properly covering, so what she finds wrong? I don’t understand… ;* She should be grateful that she is so lucky that they at least let her wear hijab at work, that she has job at all… ;* Strange person. ;*

  14. Samira

    Okay, I’m back again. Is she going to be wearing that while serving food or working as a hostess? I thought she worked on the actual grounds not in the restaurant. Um, that seems a bit overboard now that I think about it. To work in the restaurant wouldn’t it make more sense just to wear a simple white scarf tucked in-Is there an image of what the other employees wear? Do they also wear hats?

    I’m so confused!!!

  15. Samira

    correction I meant to write neck, ears, hair, arms, body not hands : )

  16. Samira

    I would take the alternative. I’m not quite sure what is “humiliating” about it. Unless she is trying to get some type of financial compensation beyond her job I think she should wear the costume.

    There are many situations (for instance the Philadelphia police force case) where the judge sided against wearing hijab. It seems to me that courts are leaning less in the favor of individual acts of discrimination against hijabis and more on the side of the business’ right to define a clothing policy.

    Besides the neck, ears, hands, arms, body are covered-thus meeting the mainstream requirements of hijab. The guy in the hot Mickey Mouse costume doesn’t look too cute, either.

  17. zainab

    Its funny they came up with the alternative after this whole thing blew up in the media. She had been waiting since June for them to accommodate her hijab and they were stonewalling. Now that they have finally come up with an alternative I think she should take it. Personally I would not wear a hat on top of my scarf and it does look a bit I would either quit or take up the other options i.e. working elsewhere in the park. But at least Disney has given her some options. She might have a hard time proving discrimination though.

  18. lilah

    I saw the interview on cnn and there was no alternative given until last week and she sued way b efore they came up with an alterative after she’d altready been sent home

  19. Natalie

    I have to say when i first looked at the picture, it reminded of a movie that I saw when I was a teenager.–The flying nun. Anyway, I think that for Disney to come up with an alternative way for her to wear her hijab is good. Many places don’t even hire you because of wearing hijab at least not me(but thats another story). She should have considered the alternative way and think that many people nowadays can’t get a job either because of their religious beliefs, yet alone with the way the economy is.

  20. Nadia

    I agree that Disney was being very flexible in their compromise. Maybe we don’t know the whole story, but it seems to me that alternative is perfectly acceptable.
    It worries me that people who read this story will think that Muslims are inflexible, especially when someone is going out of the way to be compromising.

  21. Kelly

    Ok, it’s Ramadan so I shouldn’t say anything bad. I’ll just wonder what is she thinking.

    I will comment about that hijab though.

    A LOT of people would wear that anyhow I think. It’s not bad. I was expecting to see some mickey mouse ears hood or something.

    I would be interested in seeing if the other employees wear sth similar to that hat? I would also be wondering what is her exact beef with it?

    I would probably put the hat on over an amira, but that’s just me.

  22. Elif Kavakci

    Interesting article. Thanks for informing us about this. I wish I had heard sooner, I would have loved to help her with one of my comfijab (comfortable hijab) designs that she could wear with her required uniform. I think she still looks pretty in the picture. It seems like Disney really made an effort to try to accomodate a hijabi, but we would ofcourse need to hear her side of the story as well.

  23. Valerie

    I’m a bad person for this, because I don’t wear the scarf yet (long story). I did hear about this before the alternative came up. I have to say I’m surprised too. I just heard that she was offered a backstage type job (bakery?). That bothered me a lot.

    Given that she started the job not wearing it, and after becoming a citizen chose to use her first amendment rights (which she has every right as a citizen to do), I would be surprised to see a company trying to work with someone for this. I knew a girl when I was in the Army who wore a plain black scarf with her uniform and had permission from her commanders, after 9/11 she had that taken away by someone higher up that her bosses (does this rambling make sense? heh). She would have been thrilled to reach a compromise to keep her job and her beliefs.

    As for the way the alternative looks, I don’t think it looks that bad. I mean, someone isn’t going to work at a disney park for how attractive the uniforms are. If it follows the rules of hijab and allows her to keep her job, I’m not sure why it’s a problem. That’s my opinion though. I’d rather see a company offer a compromise than fire her for her beliefs.

  24. Noor

    Without knowing all the details this on it’s face seems like a very good compromise and I agree that we should give Disney some credit for attempting to find a solution that would allow her to be covered and still maintain the look of her costume. Disney obviously wants her to be in character and the traditional headscarf would overshadow that. This also raises concerns for me as well and the need to take a look at the way hijab does make certain identity situations difficult for a woman who wears hijab. It’s a delimma in this instance.

  25. nounou


    I also wear hijab and i had to leave my job because of it ( or thanks to it…) and actually, when you think how it’s difficult to find a job for anyone nowadays, employers have so much choice to find employees, so they are not forced to propose a compromise for religions reasons ( it’s just an observation, i’m not saying i agree with that). Especially now, you know how it goes about islam all over the western world. If you don’t want the job, a crowd of people is waiting for it, that’s a fact. Then, i think, just as you, that the solution proposed is not so bad ( not so charii, but not so bad even). Anyway, as a muslima, i couldn’t even work for a firm like disney ( due to, among others, their implication with israel) but that’s another debate…

    ps: excuse my mistakes in english, i’m from France 😉

Comments are now closed.