Oh Nadiya. How we love you. I mean, like, everyone. Over 13 million people watched you win, rooted for you to win. You were invited to bake the Queen’s ninetieth birthday cake. A slightly ‘leaning tower of Pisa-esque’ orange drizzle cake, designed and created by your solitary self. Who would have thought? You were the plucky girl-next-door who stole the nation’s heart. The Great British Bake-Off Muslim woman winning in hijab. Your self-deprecation and stumbling self-belief won us all over. You grew in confidence in front of our very eyes and week by nail-biting week we rejoiced when, convinced you would be voted off the show, you survived to make it through to the next round. For some viewers, you became probably the only British-Bangladeshi hijabi Muslim they will ever consider something akin to a friend. You were sweet and funny and real. You hugged a gay man and kissed your husband in front of everyone and without a care in the world. Nadiya, you made women who wrap their hijab real.
I was a little late to the party, I must confess, but I loved you too. This is despite never having watched a single episode of Bake-Off before. Eventually the buzz around you was all too seductive and I sneaked the occasional peek, instantly and willingly surrendering myself to fandom. You were single-handedly procuring the hearts of the masses. Resolutely visible in your headscarf, you held the coveted trophy aloft and declared that you would spend the rest of your life refusing to be restricted by self-imposed boundaries. There was not a dry eye in the tent and, in that moment, you were an emblem of self-belief to women everywhere.