Be Bold: Layla Shaikley's Fresh Story

Caren Carlson

Posted on July 08 2014


1) What does being BOLD mean to you? As an individual? As a global citizen?

I am delusionally optimistic and an avid problem solver. The combination has resulted in a lifestyle of constructive defiance, which entails knowing what rules to break and when, as most leaders inherently do. Constructive defiance varies from defiance in that it is solution oriented. Being bold for me means constructive defiance – and in that, defining who you are and your legacy.


2) We want to hear your Fresh Story! When was the last time you were BOLD?

I triggered a social revolution recently, that was pretty BOLD.

As a Muslim, my choice to wear hijab often adds a pre-constructed narrative to my identity due to the isolating narrative constructed for me by Islamophobes and terrorists alike. Throughout the years, I learned that the implications of one piece of fabric could be huge. I could be seen as sadistically oppressed, voicelessly docile, and naïvely desexualized when not forcefully hyper-sexualized. Those descriptions have nothing to do with me, though. I am relentlessly optimistic, painstakingly curious, entertainingly awkward, imprudently adventurous, and irrationally proper when not uncomfortably loud. Above all, I love fashion. And the unapologetic fusion of my identities has always received attention.

I grew sick of telling “my story” as a defensive correction of popularly perpetuated myths related to violence and oppression rather than my own personal narrative. That realization is why I started a national dialogue that advanced the discourse on the representation of Muslim women in America.

I co-produced a video cut to Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America” that featured fashionable Muslim women in a group that a few friends and I started – we tongue-in-cheekily refer to this group as #mipsterz (Muslim Hipsters). It’s since evolved into an active listserv. The video went viral and commenced an unprecedented cross-web dialogue amongst Muslims on who gets to represent Islam, why, and how. 

The mainstream quickly caught wind of the debate and was covering #mipsterz as a movement of American Muslims presenting their own narrative relative to their own context – far from the limiting and monolithic stereotypes perpetuated for so long.

Mipsterz has become an unmatched space for young American Muslims that identify with culture and the arts. The space has transcended our own listserv through the hashtag #mipsterz and over 200 articles published on the movement. In following the global web dialogue, I also learned how to say Mipster in 6 languages, including Mippusuta (Japanese), Mipsterski (Polish), and Müslüman Hipsterlar (Turkish).


3) We find you inspiring, how would you share your encourage your readers to be BOLD, too?  

Don’t be afraid to be different! But remember that at the end of the day as humans, we are mostly the same. We are all 70% water, making us 70% similar – and 30% BOLD.



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