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Model Shahira Yusuf On Wearing A Hijab: 'I Don't Want To Be Considered The Token Girl'

She was scouted by Storm model agency founder Sarah Doukas who also discovered Kate Moss

Shahira Yusuf  | LouisvuittonShop UK
InstagramShahira Yusuf

Does the name Shahira Yusuf sound familiar to you? If it doesn't now, it definitely will.

Last year, the 20-year-old British model made headlines after posting a viral tweet of herself in an oversized grey suit with a promise to revolutionise the fashion industry.

'I ain't no Kendall Jenner but I'm a black Muslim girl from east London that's about to finesse the modelling industry,' read the photos' caption which received over 121,000 'likes'.

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Now, the model is being tipped to become one of Britain's first hijab-wearing catwalk models and is speaking out about being the norm – not the exception – when it comes to championing diversity on the catwalk.

'I don't want to be considered the token girl,' she recently told the .

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'I don't want ethnic models or those from different religious backgrounds to just pave the way - I want the way to stay there, to become a norm within society because it is a norm outside of the modelling sphere.'

Yusuf was first scouted at the age of 17 by founder Sarah Doukas, who also discovered Kate Moss, but admits she wasn't ready to start her career as a model as a teenager.

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'When you are young you are naive and live in this unrealistic sphere, you've got to be mature otherwise an industry like this can swallow you up,' she revealed.

'I'm conscious of the fact that I'm visibly Muslim but it's not a huge deal,' she says about wearing the hijab.

I don't want ethnic models or those from different religious backgrounds to just pave the way - I want the way to stay there

The England-born beauty of Somalian descent – who credits models Iman, Tyra Banks and Alek Wek as inspirations – also admitted she hopes she can empower other young Muslim girls to achieve any dream they might consider impossible to reach.

'It's good to give hope and motivation,' she said.

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Earlier this year, the 5ft 11inch model opened up to about her supportive family and her somewhat rogue career choice.

'I wouldn't be modelling if it wasn't for my friends and family constantly asking me to do it. When you have so many of your family, friends, and even strangers approaching you and asking you to consider modelling, it definitely does make you want to pursue it,' she said.

Discussing her viral tweet last year, she admitted: 'I didn't think the tweet would get that much attention.

'Especially for it to be reposted so many times and get as much attention on other social media platforms like Instagram, too. I've received so much support and I'm glad I tweeted that because it's very difficult to stand out in such a competitive industry.

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'I do believe that it's harder to make it as a hijab-wearing model as you have already filtered so many forms of modelling out. So for one, you have fewer opportunities.

I'm conscious of the fact that I'm visibly Muslim

'This is why I feel that it's up to the fashion industry to create more opportunities for models like me. There is a huge modest fashion market, and more companies are starting to release modest fashion clothing lines.'

There's no excuse for the lack of diversity and representation.

Here's to women like Shahira making inclusivity become a mainstay in fashion and beyond.

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