Do we really want to focus on the fact that Zayn Malik shaved his head when he just won a prestigious award related to his heritage? Is this the only thing people can think of as the headline when they talk about Zayn Malik at the 2015 Asian Awards? Stories covering the 2015 Asian Awards on April 17 where Zayn Malik won for being a positive celebrity that is “Asian” was completely ignored.
Is no one talking about how awesome it is that Zayn Malik is recognized as one of the top celebrities that also happens to be Muslim and “Asian”? Apparently so!
On Instagram, Zayn Malik posted a picture of himself ready to hit the red carpet with his mom for the 2015 Asian Awards. Zayn Malik’s caption was “Notice anything different?” and was denoting his shaved head.
However, I felt that the thing I noticed that was different was how the media was covering this event Zayn Malik was honored at. That is, it was obvious to me that the way many of the writers saw Zayn Malik at the 2015 Asian Awards was way different than the lens I saw him through for one very obvious reason — I am from the same heritage background as Zayn Malik.
What I noticed as a fellow “Asian” and someone of Muslim heritage is that few headlines that covered the award event actually stated that he won any award. Instead, the headlines talked about how it was Zayn Malik’s “first public appearance post-1D” or that he had a newly “shaved head.” Yawn!
I can’t help to feel a lot of these headlines miss the real point — and that is that they had an opportunity to finally say something nice about Zayn Malik’s heritage. Nevertheless, there is more that is being missed by the media about Zayn Malik and his heritage.
What is Zayn Malik’s heritage? I previously wrote about the significance of Zayn Malik as a celebrity for “Asians” living outside of Asia. In America, we say someone is Middle Eastern, Arab, or Muslim (which are all mutually exclusive). In England, there is a unifying term used called “Asian” that denotes anyone from the Middle East, India, Central Asia, Indonesia, etc. When you say Asian in England, it does not denote a particular religious group.
Sharing my thoughts that positive aspects of Zayn Malik’s heritage should be focused on in headlines is Goat Milk. To change those negative headlines, Goat Milk has some interesting ideas for writers. While they titled the article, “My Top 30 Do’s and Don’ts for Covering Muslims and Islam in the Media,” one of the primary areas of interest is Zayn Malik.
Although Zayn Malik does not promote himself as a Muslim in public often, he does not deny his Muslim heritage that he gained through his father — and Goat Milk addresses how that delicate balance of identities should be covered by journalists and writers.
Interestingly, despite the fact that Zayn Malik rarely says anything about being Muslim, he is often attacked for it. A good example is Bill Maher making inappropriate comments about how Zayn Malik looked like the Boston Marathon Bomber. Other examples of when Zayn Malik’s religious background is being mentioned in headlines in a negative way include “Zayn Malik’s Pained Muslim Background” or “Racist Song About Zayn Malik And 9/11.”
In instances where Zayn Malik’s reputation is being sullied in the media by anti-Muslim bullying, Goat Milk recommends that writers (like me) take the time to stand up for Zayn Malik. Or rather, just take a chance to write anything you can that is positive about Zayn Malik and his Muslim heritage. Anything!
Are there any other reasons we should we place this special focus on covering Zayn Malik in regards to his heritage? The Goat Milk blog states, “Do more stories on Zayn Malik. Teenage girls love Zayn Malik.”
Okay, but is Zayn Malik the top Muslim or “Asian” worldwide celebrity? No one has officially collected data on this particular topic (yet) — but in my mind, Zayn Malik is the one!
What we do know is that the Fifth Annual British Asian Awards thinks he is definitely special. They awarded Zayn Malik with a trophy for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
Before leaving the stage with the award, BBC News states Zayn Malik told the audience gathered for the ceremony at the London Grosvenor House Hotel, “Here’s to the future.”
With that, I would like to return the exit statement with a sincere wish that in 2015, Zayn Malik has better headlines when his heritage is involved. Fingers crossed that everyone who writes about Zayn Malik from now on will be up to snuff on the appropriate language before his (potentially Muslim) wedding.
Finally, my vote for the best coverage of the Asian Awards goes to the Mirror and J-14 Magazine for their positive headlines. They also get special notice for their extensive collections of captioned information about other Muslim or “Asian” celebrities — besides Zayn Malik.
[Feature image via Zayn Malik’s Instagram]