The Latest: 27.1 | Beauty

Shanon Shah goes in search of beautiful Muslims; Nadia Mohd Rasidi asks ‘am I beautiful?’; Jonas Otterbeck listens to ethical sounds; Yovanka Paquete Perdigao is horrified by skin-whitening products; Misha Monaghan is unimpressed with pious fashion; Yasmin Desouki watches classical Egyptian films; and poems by Brandino Machiavelli.

 Why was I so self-conscious? Was it because I was surrounded by perfectly preened, young, mostly Muslim women, taking selfies and chattering away? ‘I’m not some creepy, non-colour coordinated lech,’ I wanted to protest aloud, ‘I’m here for research.’

The beginning of cinema was arguably marked by acute insincerity. Early pictures were the domain of bourgeois values, and it took some time for the medium to come into its own as an art form for the masses.

Throughout my formative years I toyed with what it meant to be a mixed race Muslim woman in Britain. I considered wearing a hijab to more easily fit in with my Indian and Pakistani relatives, but then eschewed the idea for fear that it would alienate my Scottish ones. I never really understood how I could consolidate all of my identities.

A phenomenon that is as old as the advent of colonialism, skin lightening is a multi-billion-dollar beauty industry that persists in many parts of the world, despite its serious health implications.

In my second year of secondary school, I decided to don the hijab, but only during school hours, when I waded in a sea of teenage girls – my friends – who were growing and blooming in ways I envied with an ache.

The recent appropriation of modern art expressions by Islamic intellectuals, in contrast to the condemnation of them during most of the twentieth century – such as the genre of popular music – is a remarkable and noteworthy development.