Madonna Instagrams a pic of herself wearing a Muslim niqab: offensive?


Madonna wants some attention, and I’ll reluctantly give it to her during this very slow news week. She’s always gotten her kicks (and profited nicely) by crossing acceptable cultural lines, but her current weapon of choice is Instagram. Sometimes Madge is harmless but still gross when she tongue-bathes her shower or shows off furry pits. Other times? She’s rude and offensive as she drops the n-word and posts photos of 13-year-old Rocco holding a bottle of gin.

Madonna’s M.O. is to upset people and issue non-apologies. Her new tagline for potentially offensive photos is “#unapologeticbitch.” Her latest selfie shows off her newest fashion accessory, a niqab with gold bars. Madonna appears to be making a statement with those fancy bars. She’s saying that a niqab is a prison. She thinks she’s cutting-edge and witty with her cultural commentary, but yeah. This is offensive to Muslim women who choose to wear the garment as part of their religious beliefs. Of course nothing is sacred to Madge except for that red piece of yarn she wears around her wrist.

It’s tiring to watch celebrities continue to appropriate culture, isn’t it? Madonna needs to stick to Instagramming herself in a clay beauty mask. Oh wait, she did that too.

Madge also posted a photo of 17-year-old Lourdes hanging out with some friends before senior prom. People are making a big deal out of these girls holding wine glasses. Madonna wants us to freak out over the possibility.




Photos courtesy of Madonna on Instagram

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

79 Responses to “Madonna Instagrams a pic of herself wearing a Muslim niqab: offensive?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. mazzie says:

    Go home, Madonna. We’re not shocked and you’re making yourself more irrelevant. Also, really?

    • Zinjojo says:

      Just reeks of desperation for attention.

    • Christo says:

      Yes, exactly. This string of shock photos feels rather cheap. What I wouldn’t give to have someone post/instagram a simple panoramic shot of a natural setting or perhaps a group setting. Instead, we have all these low-quality, self-involved photos that any amateur photographer would have surpassed in quality within the first few weeks of owning a camera—not to mention the terrible filtering on the other end of said pictures.

      • Rascalito says:

        LOL I’m glad to see someone else has noticed the horrible image quality on her Instagram photos. Like even the most basic iPhone will give you an image quality 10 times better than what she’s posting. But not just her, a lot of very famous and rich people who work in fields where high art photography is the norm, are posting pics on Instagram that look like they were taken with a Kinder Surprise camera, and then ran the photo through a colour photocopier a few times before posting it on Instagram. I just don’t get it lol. I would actually have to make a big effort to make my simple photos look that bad lol.

    • Paul says:

      Yep. She’s a try hard

  2. Jenns says:

    I love that she didn’t use an extreme filter on a picture that covers her face…

  3. mkyarwood says:

    Always. That’s her jam, now. She misses the controversy she managed to stir up with sex from her past, so she is hopping around trying to find whatever platform she can to get it started again. This is someone who doesn’t feel fulfilled, I think. Why would you want to recreate your youth when you have a lot of life left to live and could be traveling and learning and sampling what ‘life’ has to offer all over the place? Crazy rich people.

  4. pnichols says:

    I wonder if she will bring a camera in her coffin so we can all watch her decay

  5. Hannah says:

    Yawn. She must really be getting off by the attention. Even though everybody calls her desperate every time. No such thing as bad PR?

  6. Jaded says:

    Her poke-in-the-eye IGs are really getting boring. If being offensive is all she can do to remain relevant, she’s losing her grasp big-time.

    Go away Madonna, do something worthy instead of showing off.

    • mina wurst says:

      I think she tried that (doing something worthy) when she adopted her kid but it didn’t bring her as much attention as she hoped it would. So back to the drawing board…

  7. D says:

    She is just so desperate for attention isn’t she? Whatever it takes to stay relevant, it’s like ” All the kids do that cultural appropriation thing…I better do it too. I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.”

  8. PunkyMomma says:

    Insulting. Pathetic. Narcissistic. Callous. How fitting that her big break was “Desperately Seeking Susan” and now she’s just “Desperate Madonna”.

    • kri says:

      “Desperately Seeking Relevancy” at this point. Madonna paints herself as such a feminist. What a joke. Some women choose to wear the niqab, so respect that, you insensitive, rusty, attention addict.

  9. Eleonor says:

    Oh Madonna being offensive! What a news.

  10. dorothy says:

    Another sad plea for attention. It’s over lady.

  11. Boodiba says:

    I’m entertained by her Instagram. I can’t be the only one!

  12. Lindy79 says:

    I only watched “I’m Going to Tell you a Secret” online last week and I laughed so much at Guy Richie’s total lack of f*cks about her being Madonna and utter refusal to pander/follow her around. He went way up in my estimation after it.

    Truth or Dare was way better. At least she was being honest about being a spoiled bitch.

  13. Alexi says:

    Every body needs to Chill out with making all dress up offensive. It’s so stupid.

  14. maichan says:

    I generally ignore this woman so I’m never too bothered with her. I have friends who loved her and missed her music, because it seems eclipsed by her constant attempt to shock people. Anyway when I saw her photo all I could think of was “my goodness it must be exhausting being her”I kept getting this image in my head about her frantically looking for the next thing to shock people with. It’s just sad.

  15. Santolina says:

    Madonna needs to pull her head out of her a$$ and train the camera on something other than herself. How about something worthwhile that’s happening in the world? How about using your *shock value* skills for the greater good, to call attention to something that would help humanity?

    • WTF says:

      It would be great if she could use her influence and following to make a statement about something important. I’ll admit that when I was younger I thought her antics were ground breaking. I thought they were about empowering women and owning our sexuality. But it turns out that those messages were just a casual aside to her narcissism. Too bad she can’t figure out a way to re-create that

  16. Kate2 says:

    Yeah, I don’t think she should hide away and not speak up about things that mean something to her, but posting a photo of herself in a niqab does zero for the plight of women in the middle east, if in fact she was trying to make a statement about that particular subject. So all this empty gesture does is bring attention to herself. Which is pathetic. Get in the trenches if its a cause you care that much about instead of trying to appeal to your daughters’ friends by posting IG pics. Sorry, M, that’s not your demographic anymore. Spend some time lobbying at the UN or something. Lend your time and your name to doing something useful for f**ks sake.

    • db says:

      +1 and well said

      • Shamus says:


        Well said. For every Muslim woman who chooses to wear a hijab are many more who have no choice in the matter. I know it’s not PC to say that but I’m saying it.

    • Yama Yama says:

      You do realize that Muslims exist everywhere in the world, not just the Middle East, right? And that women everywhere (yes, even in the USA) suffer from sexism, violence, rape culture, and patriarchy, not just limited to the Middle East.

      and why do you think that Madonna wearing a niqab should be equated to her “trying” to bringing awareness to the plight of women in the Middle East? I am a Muslim woman and athough I choose NOT to cover, however my mom and aunts have worn niqab a few times in public because they WANTED to.

      What I mean to say… please do not equate Western, non-Muslim celebrities wearing Islamic garments with making a “political statement’ about the so-called plight of women like you suggested.

      Sorry, not an attack on you but your comment bothered me and I wanted to say something. Have a nice day.

      • tifzlan says:


      • Leen says:

        Thank you Yama! I kind of get a bit ugh about the generalizations people hold about Muslim women and Middle Eastern women. I’m an agnostic Middle Eastern woman who lives in Palestine, and no one is off hunting me down to wear the niqab or what-have-you. And no I don’t hide my beliefs.
        Plus it irritates me when Western non-Muslim women think it’s their job to talk about women’s rights in Muslim countries or Middle Eastern countries. I highly suggest Lila Abu Lughod’s Do Muslim Women Need Saving? as it talks about why it’s problematic for western women to use the whole ‘women’s rights’ argument

      • db says:

        Yama Mama The reason I think Madonna is being provocative and critical is because this is her schtick now for 30 years. If she actually has something to say, I wish she would say it and stop hiding behind the pretense that she’s a performance artist.

  17. MARKWEER says:

    She’s always bored and she’s become boring with shenanigans like this

  18. Tulip says:


    You know, there’s still not enough research happening on women’s health. Why doesn’t she do some shock advertisement on that, or at least fund raise to develop safe houses for battered women in foreign lands if she’s keen on that? But, no, she won’t because it’s like everyone has said-it’s only for attention to her.

  19. FingerBinger says:

    Madonna has always appropriated different cultures. She’s been a geisha, dressed in saris, and kilts. This is really nothing new.

  20. decorative item says:

    Coming from her…no.

  21. Regarded says:

    I’m Muslim and I don’t find this offensive, per se. This reminds me of when Rihanna posed for pictures in front of a mosque wearing traditional Muslim clothes. She looked absolutely stunning and many of my muslim friends and I agreed it was a positive image if you ignored where it was taken.
    Madonna just looks silly and I’m bored.

    • Yama Yama says:

      same here, I don’t find this offensive, however it doesn’t mean that this is NOT offensive to some Muslim women. Others will find it offensive.

      I just find this eye-rolling.

      I also remember the Rihanna Instagram controversy, she was posing in front of that really beautiful white mosque in Abu Dhabi. I thought the photos were beautiful (although they made me laugh, too).

    • Dearprudence says:

      Thank you both for commenting on this subject. I feel like there is such a gulf, a divide of understanding between cultures, that if it weren’t for Madonna as the subject of the picture, you might think she was trying to initiate a dialog like this. But as Madonna is the focus, it’s about her.
      So let’s change that.
      I’m not Muslim, but I have a tremendous affinity for what I have seen of the religion/culture, and it’s because I’ve tried to learn about our inherent differences, that I’ve found some wonderful things to appreciate about Islam. (And please, correct anything I may have interpreted incorrectly) I am far from an expert.

      In one tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is quoted as saying: “…If the woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of her body should be seen but this — and he pointed to his face and hands.”

      Islamic dress is one of many rights granted to Islamic women. Modest clothing is worn in obedience to GOD, and has nothing to do with submissiveness to men. Muslim men and women have similar rights and obligations and both submit to God. It’s a commonly held, Judeo-Christian misconception that wearing a hijab connotes inferior status. A proud Muslim woman chooses to wear a hijab to show her deference to God. However, the male head of her family can chose for her to forgo that display. Complete veiling, like Madonnas’ picture, was not advocated by Islam, but by religious zealots, as I understand, they pushed for the practice to be enacted – in the late ’50s. Before then, women almost never completely veiled.
      From these and other references, the vast majority of Muslim scholars and jurists, past and present, have determined the minimum requirements for Muslim women’s dress:
      1) Clothing must cover the entire body, with the exception of the face and the hands.
      2) The attire should not be form fitting, sheer or so eye-catching as to attract undue attention or reveal the shape of the body.

      Sadly one commonality Christians share with Muslims, is a MAN made interpretation of religious texts, to suit an individual zealots agenda to subsume women’s status. Both the Koran and the Bible have been twisted and taken out of context to minimize and marginalize women’s access to money, education, and ultimately power.
      Now back to the point at hand, a hijab is a woman’s choice to wear, to show her obedience to God. Not to man.

      • sunnyeze says:

        +this. i’m a muslim & my husbd supports my choice of sticking with the least strict interpretation of modest clothing, so I was free from being guilt tripped into wearing the hijab. my sisters however chose to wear the headscarf as a form of devotion & gratitude to the Allmighty. to each her own.

        i find madonna a tryhard attention seeker with niqab-gate. What poor, uneducated muslim women really needs are more supportive male figures that does not religiously objectify us. Instead of having a has-been artist further dehumanizing the woman behind the veil with a stunt like this.

        i would give the attention madonna wants if she starts talking about the rights of egyptian women to drive cars or highlight the lovely work of malala yousefzai for female education for one. angie can’t be expected to do it all.

      • Leen says:

        Hi Dearprudence,
        I know the post wasn’t directed at me but if you don’t mind I’d like to comment about the hijab and the veil in general. You are right, the submission actually has nothing to do with men. The hadith that you listed I am not sure who narrated it (I googled it but didn’t come back with results), never the less the reason why I bring this up is because in Islamic scholarship, the source of the narration is very important as there are some false quotes and hadith attributed to Mohammed (the examples of which can be read through the exchange between Aisha, one of Mohammed’s wives, and Abu Hurayra, one of his companions. In fact it was said that both characters did not like each other and often argued over what Mohammed actually said).

        Now back to the hijab argument. There are a couple of verses in the Quran that point to the hijab, one,
        “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bossoms. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft�Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 33:59)
        As you know, here it is indicated that the veils cover their bossoms. There’s actually a lot of scholarly debate whether the hijab is a ‘wajib (obligation)’ or not. Moreover, the context of the verse is also important (asbab el nozool). It was reported that women were getting harassed and they were complaining to the Mohammaed about it and as a temporary solution, he advised them cover themselves with a distinguishable cloack as it distinguish between a ‘free’ woman and a ‘jariyeh’. Of course this tradition is not new to Islam as the Ancient Greeks were the ones who instituted covering women to ensure their separation from women. Other ancient civilizations believed that a high class woman is usually ‘covered’.

        Finally, the Niqab in many places are carried over from tradition that pre-dates Islam. Actually many south Moroccan men also don the niqab to protect from the sand.

        Anyway, at this point the hijab in some places is a political tool, in others a form of protest against authoritarian regimes (such as Egypt), a form of oppression, a sign of worship or familial pressure. Really in the end it all boils down to the woman’s individual choice.

        If you are interested to read more about the veil in Islam, I really suggest you read The Veil and the Male Elite by Fatima Mernissi. She’s fabulous and really illustrates the evolution of the hijab and the veil (and its references in the Quran).

      • Sooloo says:

        @Dearprudence – I’m curious about a few parts of your statement, as they are confusing. You state, “A proud Muslim woman chooses to wear a hijab to show her deference to God” and that the hijab has “nothing to do with submissiveness to men. Muslim men and women have similar rights and obligations” but you also add “However, the male head of her family can chose for her to forgo that display.” If it means a man makes that decision for her (if he orders her to don it, what happens if she disagrees?) how is it true that she has similar rights? Doesn’t this mean she is expected to submit to his authority and, therefore, she *doesn’t*? And further, (and correct me if I’m wrong, but I live near a large Muslim population and have never seen this) there doesn’t appear to be an equal expectation that a man covers himself in the same way; it’s like saying the male and female bodies are different enough as to be unequal, in the sense that only women need to cover up to an extreme degree and/or make sure they don’t wear tight clothing, etc. I’ve never seen a man in head-to-toe clothing with only his eyes and hands showing, and it sounds like many are saying it’s a personal decision for a woman to dress in that manner, but regardless, why is the expectation that she show more modesty if they are considered equal? A woman doesn’t wear the hijab out of deference to men, yet it’s a man who decides whether or not she has to wear it?

        @sunnyeze – Similar question, as you note that you dress according to the least strict interpretation, but also add your husband supports this idea which relieves you because you don’t have to deal with a guilt trip. What does that say for the scenario where he didn’t support your chosen style of dress? And where is your say (or to what degree) in how he presents himself in public?

        I’m genuinely curious, not trolling or trying to pick fights, as I guess I’ve never immersed myself or asked questions before about this culture/religion and it would be interesting to hear more from those who live it.

        I’m all for a woman dressing as she sees fit, but I’m confused by these statements about equality or the idea that a woman showing modesty is done out of deference to her faith rather than familial/male expectation, when the other half of those statements appears to indicate at least part of her decision is based on what a man sees appropriate for her.

      • Cheryl says:

        It’s confusing somewhat to me. The expectation doesn’t apply to men and boys generally…and puberty may be a important threshold, but it is not about men, only about spirituality.

  22. tifzlan says:

    F all the way oooooffffff

  23. swack says:

    Another fool celebrity trying to get attention. BTW, the glasses look like they have water in them not wine. I’ve seen water glasses in some restaraunts that look like these. So what is the big deal.

  24. Dawn says:

    I think Madonna is a marketing genius and she has used this kind of stuff for years. It doesn’t matter to her if you like it or agree with her as much as you are talking about her and using her name. And it always seems to work and that is why so many copy her thought process. This is nothing new coming from her.

  25. tifzlan says:

    LOL why should I tell her to stop doing something if she freely chose to do it? Western feminism is so boring. Muslim women are not brainless zombies. We can think and make choices for ourselves too. Just stop.

    • Jem says:

      Western Feminism is exactly like Madonna: dried up and out of touch with reality

    • Regarded says:

      Agree with absolutely everything you said – with the exception of western feminism being boring ;)

    • Shannon1972 says:

      Western feminism isn’t even a shadow of what it was, and it is frustrating to watch it just morph into this convenient catch all term, or simple means of justification.

      Genuinely curious though, tifzlan…do you think that Muslims in general won’t be offended by this? Or is it that Muslim women won’t find it controversial? Many people seem quick to be offended these days, and I find your comment to be unexpected (and awesome).
      I’m thinking of the Khloe Kardashian/Native American issue – they seem somewhat similar on the surface.

    • Ange says:

      I wouldn’t really call what she’s doing here a feminist statement though. It’s cliched and possibly anti-muslim but if you asked Madonna to clearly articulate what she was trying to say with this image I doubt you’d get one solidly feminist idea out of her.

  26. avewemissedthecakes says:

    This photo is a weird mix of making me sort of angry and also leaving me sort of bored.

  27. Dame Snarkweek says:

    I’m taking your comment out to lunch.

  28. Kiddo says:

    She’s that troll on the internet that everyone has learned to ignore. It has to be frustrating to her.

  29. Dany says:

    oh my…poor Madonna needs attention so badly

  30. Shelby says:

    In the Black & White pic, she looks AmandaLeporeEsque HA!

  31. hmmm says:

    Irony of ironies- Madonna now finds shock value in covering up.

  32. Gretchen says:

    It is offensive, but at this point it’s also just so….banal*.

    Anytime a celebrity wants some attention they turn their hand at making some sort of “statement”. They want people do be offended, and while I completely appreciate the legitimacy of people getting angry about it, feeding the trolls just encourages them.

    I mean, she must have had this specially made, so she took the time to
    discuss the concept and have it tailored only to, what? Sit in her room and take a selfie? The shock value only lasts once, so she spent all that time and money for one narcissistic shot at creating buzz? It’s just so pathetic and egocentric.

    *ETA: just wanted to clarify, by “banal” I don’t mean harmless, but unoriginal and vapid

    • lunchcoma says:

      I agree. She’s been doing the same thing for so long that it’s hard to even be shocked by it, even though I acknowledge it does harm. She’s not even being offensive in an interesting way.

  33. Marcy says:


    But hey, “Lucky Star” still on my elliptical playlist…loved her back in the day.

  34. Shannon1972 says:

    I find her so embarrassing now. She reminds me of the women I see at the supermarket, who look like teenagers from behind, wearing tiny booty shorts and tank tops. But when they turn around, you can see they are clearly much older and trying way too hard. They aren’t fooling anyone but themselves, and so it goes with my former idol. So sad.

  35. Joh says:

    Get used to this because she will be pulling these stunts Until
    she is 90 and will be buried with a vibrator wearing the latest scandal to keep people talking about her.

  36. watchmaker says:

    For a split second, I thought that was Nellie Olsen (Little House On The Prairie) in the last photo.. Yikes.

  37. watchmaker says:

    For a split second, I thought the last photo was Nellie Olsen (Little House On The Prairie) yikes…..

  38. Jayna says:

    You’re wrong, the people she say she’s been doing this for so long. She matured and what was controversial about Ray of Light and her promo for that? It was stunning as were the music videos. What was controversial about Music? It was electronica with Madonna’s version of some elements of country on a couple of the songs. American Life was some electronica and Madonna doing actual folk ballads which were moving. I still listen to them. She did rap in a couple of places which was bad, but, hey, almost all pop singers have done that. The only controversial thing was the video for American Life, which she quashed the original version because of the sentiment towards people against Bush and the war. It was slamming the war and Bush. The climate was at an all-time high about that and she had children to worry about and threats. The Dixie Chicks almost had their career destroyed. But the other songs were sweet and reflective for the most part. I Lliked folkdonna and will play those set of songs forever and they are simple but moving. It was when she was really in love with Guy and had had little Rocco.

    She had children’s books she wrote.

    Then came Confessions on a Dance Floor. What was controversial about that, electronica music with a nod back to disco? The songs were more spiritual and mature put to dance music. The only thing controversial was in her tour she was on a jeweled cross singing Live to Tell, but it had pictures of children orphaned being flashed behind at the end and a big counter that ended with 12 mllion children are orphaned from AIDS and Bill Clinton’s non-partisan organization listed to donate to and then she had a scripture from the Bible emblazoned across the screen. It was a symbol for us to treat our fellow mankind better, to act as Jesus would in compassion. So it was far from controversial when you looked at what she was saying. It was Madonna when she was at her most spiritual.

    Hard Candy 2008, just a fun retro pop album with R&B influence, a really sweet and playful album actually, and her concert was Madonna just having fun, which was really nice, to see that carefree part of Madonna. Although her face was being F’d with around the time of the tour and she had just split with Guy and she was bone thin, probably from the stress of the separation.

    So then enter the divorce after the tour of Hard Candy. What followed after and hitting 50, well that’s when the bad plastic surgery was happening, boy toys, and then the pushing sexy to the hilt and bad music and this need to be provocative but not in a Madonna fashion of days gone by, confident, ever-changing. It reeks of someone out of touch thinking they are being “ironic,” her favorite term these days, and pushing boundaries again. So not. It makes me sad.

    So for those that say she’s been doing this just for the sake of doing this her whole career, I disagree. From Ray of Light on, she had a point of view and wasn’t prancing around on stage trying to be a sex kitten in her 20s. Her concerts were unique and different. It has gone on now for five years, getting progressively worse each year. She put out an immature album, except a few beautiful songs. Even the teens thought it was immature and where was Confessions on a Dance Floor Madonna with insightful lyrics.

    The grillz was the lowest point I think and she still wears them. It’s so cringeworthy, and those bathroom pics on Instagram all sexy or sticking her tongue out like Miley and all the photoshop. There are no words. I would never have believed it of Madonna, what she’s like in her 50s.

    I miss confident Madonna in her 40s. She was awesome and she had her old face. Poor me I try to push this Madonna out of my mind

  39. jwoolman says:

    I don’t think this qualifies as something like Khloe and Pharrell’s misadventures with headdresses. Non-Muslims do wear it when in countries where it’s culturally/legally required, so you don’t have to be Muslim to wear it. Madonna’s just being her usual shallow self in the commentary. Personally, I don’t mind seeing her all covered up for once. Kind of restful.

    Things change anywhere only when enough people in the thick of it want it to change. Madonna should sit down and listen to people who wear such clothing to find out what they themselves think about it, what changes they themselves would promote, and what they would want from other people who don’t live in their culture. My bet is that clothing is not on the top of their list.

  40. Jennifer says:

    Coming from Madonna, this isn’t a shocker. But no non-muslim woman would ever dress this way except to make people talk.

    Whenever I see a woman covered like this, I treat her as a non-person because she clearly doesn’t want to be seen as a person, just a walking blob of cloth.