'Women's Running' makes history by featuring first hijab-wearing marathoner on its cover


Women's Running is not your typical fitness magazine. In other words, it has made a concerted effort to feature women of all different ages, abilities and body shapes as opposed to, say, rail-thin celebrities with sculpted six-packs, not a stretch mark in sight.

In July 2015, it made headlines for featuring plus-size model Erika Schenk on its cover. A few months later, Kiley Lyall was the first runner with autism to receive the honor. In March, the publication chose its second plus-size cover star, blogger Nadia Aboulhosn. More recently, transgender runner Amelia Gapin covered the July issue. 

And October's edition is equally groundbreaking. According to Women's Running, six-time marathoner Rahaf Khatib is the first Muslim Hijabi on a cover of a fitness magazine in the United States. 

Women's Running

"For this stay-at-home mom of three, and an average (but persistent!) runner with goals, it means the world to me," Khatib said to Women's Running about the cover. "It's something I can show to my kids in the future, my community and most importantly my parents. It means that my sweat, tears and training are worth it." 


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Khatib, who started a blog titled "Run Like a Hijab," has made it her mission to motivate other Muslim women to run. 

"I feel like [other] covered women maybe are hesitant to get out of their comfort zones," she said. "Maybe it's a lack of apparel out there; maybe it's all the negative press about Muslim women." 

Women's Running

She added, "Don't be afraid of how you're going to be perceived. That should be the last thing on your mind. Go out there and do your thing... If you see anyone who looks like me, please don't rely on your assumptions. Ask them questions. Smile and offer a nice word."

Whether it's curvy women who love to workout or a person of color that simply wants to be represented, magazines, in general, have struggled to highlight the diverse women that likely read, or want to read, their articles. 

Which is why it is so important to celebrate progressive publications like Women's Running or like Harper's Bazaar India that recently cast two transgender models for its cover. 

Mic/Women's Running

"I think that every woman goes to the magazine rack sometimes and feels like she can't see herself in the cover images," Jessica Sebor, Women's Running's editor in chief, said to Today in July 2015. "We wanted our readers to feel like they could see themselves in our cover." 

Take note Women's Health and Shape: There are an assortment of strong, empowering women, just like Rahaf Khatib, that would make beautiful cover stars if they were just given a chance.