Model and writer Chaima El Haddaoui on why it’s time to stop seeing Muslim women as saints or sinners.

Chaima El Haddaoui is a Dutch writer and model who takes pride in upending false stereotypes about women who wear Hijabs. In recent years, this innocuous square fabric has become a battleground for those who refuse to see Muslim women as anything other than shy and retiring.

Part fashion film, part interview profile, and part dream sequence Marry the Night focuses on how El Haddaoui lives her truth by embracing a global perspective that also honors her Morrocan roots. She has appeared in features for Nike and the Dutch editions of Elle and Vogue. For this film, she is dressed in spotlight-stealing outfits by Dutch fashion designer Ninamounah and boldly challenges what beauty, fashion, and liberation look like.

The road to Marry the Night began as a conversation between El Haddaoui and the director, Mila van der Linden, who is a filmmaker and visual artist shining a light on people with non-conforming spirits. “Chaima talks about what her faith means to her and how she experiences a constant duality because she never completely fits in,” says Linden. “She has learned to carve a path for herself without living up to expectations of how a Muslim girl should be.”

In this film, El Haddaoui draws comparisons between the three-day wedding fests she attended as a child and the 24-hour club landscape she enjoys now—two seemingly contrasting worlds that share a lot of mutual ground.

Linden effortlessly captures the joy of clubbing with sharp visuals and a euphoric self-produced soundtrack. El Haddaoui proves it’s possible to have faith and have modern ideals, and to be trendsetting while respecting your culture. Ultimately, you can be whoever you want to be.


Director: Mila van der Linden