Home PeopleHoboken Girl of the Week Hoboken Girl of the Week: Jenan Matari {of MissMuslim}

Hoboken Girl of the Week: Jenan Matari {of MissMuslim}

by Briana
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This Instagram sensation describes her platform as “the halal Cosmo” — and we seriously love it. Our Hoboken Girl of the Week is Jenan Matari, Editor in Chief of MissMuslim, a blog and internet sensation that has been featured in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Huff Post, and Cosmopolitan. Besides the controversial topics Jenan and her team of 43 {all women} writers post about, MissMuslim’s overall goal is to empower women everywhere — and we’re always down with that. Read on to learn more about Jenan, her blog, some of her local favorites as a Hoboken resident, + more:

jenan miss muslim

About Jenan + MissMuslim, according to Jenan:

MissMuslim covers a wide range of topics from faith, to food and fitness, to female/sexual health and dating, to politics and pop culture. Our hope is to inspire more women to speak out and demand their voices be heard as well as highlight the global accomplishments of Muslim women. The MissMuslim team prides itself on starting necessary conversations around topics deemed as too controversial or taboo for women in various communities to speak of.

In just two years, MissMuslim has swept through the online market becoming one of the fastest growing websites in its space. MissMuslim has been featured as a media mover in Cosmopolitan, named the “most controversial Muslim women’s website on the internet” by Allure, and has been featured in countless stories on outlets such as BuzzFeed, Mic.com, Elite Daily, Huffington Post, Muslim American Leadership Alliance as well as three write-ups in The New York Times in both online and print. MissMuslim had a brief partnership with Cosmopolitan Middle East, and with PAPER Magazine in February 2017.

In April of 2017, on behalf of the MissMuslim team, I received the Shirley Chisholm Award in the category of Journalism for outstanding representation of Muslim and minority women in the media, and for being a “catalyst for change” (presented by NJ’s Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver). I also gave a TEDxTalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey in May of 2017 in a conference about “identity” to a sold-out show at the Paramount Theater.

We also have a book out on Amazon! It’s a compilation of our best and most read stories of 2017. Partial proceeds go to the GIRLS NOT BRIDES foundation – helping to end child marriages and sending girls to school to make sure they reach their full potential.

jenan miss muslim

On Her Inspirations

My mom! She is the greatest superwoman I know – and because of her, I became a strong, intelligent, well-educated career woman. She made me believe that I could change the world if I really wanted to — so now I’m trying that out! She accomplishes anything and everything she sets her mind to. She’s super badass and I don’t even think she knows it.

What Motivates Her

My motivation comes from women all over the world who dare to be their true selves and live their lives the way they feel is best for them. I will forever strive to help make everyone feel like they are enough.

Growing up as one of the only Muslim kids in my hometown, I didn’t really fit in well in any group. I was never enough. I was too Muslim/Arab for my American friends (even though I was born and raised here) and too American for the Arab Muslim community. I was constantly trying to fit in everywhere by being someone else, someone that wasn’t true to myself. In my early 20s, I finally learned to embrace the fact that I have these two beautiful cultures and began to appreciate both. I stopped feeling like I HAD to fit into just one community.

I wanted to create a space that provided that sense of belonging for people who were looking for it. We call it the Internet home for third-culture kids and hyphenated people! It’s a safe space, free of judgment, for women to share their personal stories with others who may be struggling with similar experiences.

READ: Hoboken Girl of the Week: Jeannine Morris of Joyfully Me

Her Goals + Passions

I’m very passionate about human rights, equality and women empowerment. I also love volunteering. Part of our honeymoon last year was spent in a refugee camp in Greece working with patients in the medical clinic in Moria camp and helping kids.
This year’s career goal is to host a summit for women from all backgrounds and professional experiences to connect with one another. I’d love to eventually turn that into a mentoring program for young girls who are struggling with their identity and prove to them that others know what they’re going through and made it out the other side better than ever.
I truly believe that when women get together and support one another we are unstoppable. It’s just a matter of convincing everyone else around me of that!

jenan miss muslim

A Typical Day in The Life

Editing rules my whole life, hah! We have a team of 43 amazing writers from all over the world and everyone is in different time zones. Our editing team is constantly in contact with each other every day working to schedule pieces to be published daily and we’re always on the hunt for new writers.

On The Highs + Lows

The highs of this path are knowing that you are truly making a difference in the world. We see our community changing for the better and we’re honored to be a part of that change. Every so often, something on the news brings us down or we realize how much actually needs to be changed and it’s a little overwhelming — but I do my best to keep my focus on the positive changes that have already happened and that keeps me and our entire team at MissMuslim going.

Highlight of Her Career {So Far}

The greatest thing to happen since starting MissMuslim is knowing that women will always have this platform to make them feel like they belong and that they’re not alone.

I’ll never forget the first time I received an email after a woman’s story was published – it was about something very personal related to her and her marriage and her body. It was really brave of her to share, and she went into pretty deep details about how she found help. I got an email that night from someone who had read this woman’s story and it put me in tears. The woman said that she had been suffering from the same condition as the author of that piece and that she thought that was her life forever. She had no idea that there was help out there and that she could lead a normal and happy life without pain (both physically and emotionally). We put her in contact with the author, which led her to connect with the medical center and she got the help she needed and seems to be doing really great!

All it takes is one story that someone somewhere in the world can relate to and connect with and everything changes for the better. The moment people realize that there is no shame in whatever it is they’re struggling with — another person becomes empowered and it’s a domino effect from there (in a good way!).

What a Day Off is Like

I love naps! But I also love exploring. My husband and I are newly married and we’ve just been wandering around town lately now that the weather is nicer.

I’m also a huge travel junkie! I’ve made it my ongoing life goal to always have visited at least one country ahead of my age. I’m on track so far with 31 countries on 6 continents at 27 years old.

Advice to Someone Pursuing The Same Career Path

You are the only person that can place limitations on your dreams.

Believe in yourself. I know that sounds cliché but it’s the truth. You are the only person standing in your way. If you want something bad enough, nothing will stop you from achieving it except yourself. When I was growing up my dad always used to drop this one quote and at the time I never really paid attention to it or understood what it meant but now it’s all I think about and it really resonates with me and what I’m trying to do; “Argue for your limitations and they are sure to be yours.” Also, don’t overthink things. You’ll come up with 1,000+ reasons why NOT to do something. Trust your initial instincts. You know what you are capable of and as long as you remember that – you’ll be fine in whatever path you choose to go down.

jenan miss muslim

Some of Her Hoboken + Jersey City Favorites

What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?

Tutta Pesca in Hoboken for sure!

What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?

Love alba boutique!

What do you love most about Hoboken?

I love everything about Hoboken, but my favorite thing is how homey it is. It’s like the suburbs in a small city. Also, a 20 min commute into the city isn’t so bad either.

What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?

Eat! Ha! The food here is amazing. Now that the weather is finally getting nicer we’re going out more and exploring new places. During the weekends my husband and I will take our puppy out for daytime walks — she loves it. She chases everything.

See More: Hoboken Girl of the Week: Shirley Capaldo

How long have you lived and/or worked in Hoboken or Jersey City?

I’ve been here with my puppy for about 2.5 years! I got married in August and my husband moved in and I have a feeling we’ll be here for a very long time!

What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?

Pier 13 is awesome. Whenever our families and friends visit we usually make our way up there and just walk around!

What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County?

I’ve recently joined the SoulCycle cult (lol). Now that it’s opened in Hoboken I will be basically living there.

Where do you go out with friends in the area?

We tend to hop around when we go out! No matter where we are though for some reason I always insist on popping into Green Rock for at least 20 minutes!

What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?

Now that we’ve got a Drybar and Sephora, I feel like the city is complete! Haha! Though I would love to see a Blushington open up somewhere near Drybar – that would make getting ready for events SO much more convenient!

jenan miss muslim

Want to be featured or nominate someone as an upcoming Hoboken Girl of the Week?

Email hello@hobokengirl.com about your/her story.

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