Trigger Warning: Mentions of depression and anxiety.
I’m not a stranger to mental health, I had a bad time a few years ago and ended up on antidepressants. It was a shock for me at the time – mental health issues didn’t happen to youngpeople like me. I mean, no one my age that I’d known had ever talked about it. It was one of those distant things I knew existed but didn’t really realize the depth of.
To be honest, I was extremely ignorant about the realities of mental health.
It turned out to be a learning curve for me and, in many ways, it has made me the person that I am. Initially, I was bitter, boy was I bitter – angry at the world, victimizing myself, and just hopeless for quite some time. I have many angsty journal entries from my “dark days” pages about how much I hated myself and everything about me.
So I took steps to change the things I didn’t like and it wasn’t easy.
I think I’m pretty great now because I’ve pushed past the “darkness” to become someone who is able to see the good in every bad, anticipate what the next trial will teach me and, in general, like myself more.
I know am not cured but I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve learned to enjoy the good days and deal with the bad ones. Mostly, I’ve learned to be grateful for both types of days; the bad days always teach me something new and there is always a new perspective to gain.
And now I am one of those people who talk about mental health – all the time.
I’m forever trying to start a sincere conversation about mental wellbeingand help others along the journey so they don’t feel as alone as I did. And I’m still learning, I’m learning that I can’t help everyone unless I’m looking after myself.
Recently, I slipped a little by taking on more than I was prepared for, in many ways.
I ignored it to start with. The anxiety that worsened as each day went by, the numbness that came along, the loss of interest in everything I had once enjoyed. These are my signals for when things are getting worse and, in the past, when one appeared, I picked up on it and looked after myself.
This time, I picked up on it too late.
And there I was – anxious beyond words, struggling to breathe and feeling low, so so low. A low that I had hoped to never spiral into again. I remember sitting down and feeling the worst I had in years. All the effort I’d put into learning how to avoid this kind of meltdown slowly seeped away, to the point where I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything but stay frozen, held captive by my mind.
Then the responsible part of me kicked in and I remember thinking, “Ok Mitta, you need help.” It took me a while, to push back the tears, control my breathing, and reach for my phone.
And then came the hard bit.
I’m blessed with a lot of great people in my life. Yet, as I sat and stared at my phone, I felt like I had no one to call. No one who I wouldn’t be a burden to. No one who I could easily just word vomit on. The loneliness set in.
I know it’s in my head because I’m sure my friends would have picked up and been there for me. But I’d been through such a shitty time before, I felt like I’d already been a burden once. It was hard to be that person again.
It also felt like admitting defeat.
It had taken me years but I’d gotten to a good place so how had a couple of bad weeks destroyed everything I’d created? I’d built this new Mitta who talked about mental health, who helped others, and I didn’t want to become the old version of myself again. The fear of becoming that anxiety-riddled mess who couldn’t see past that scared me more than I cared to admit. As much as I’d like to think I had grown, I was still scared of the stigma that came with mental health. Of being perceived as weak.
But I knew I needed help. I knew I couldn’t continue this way without falling down a rabbit hole of anxiety and depression.
So, I did the only other thing I could think of. I reached out to a mental health professional.I did something and I’m hoping it pays off. And I get it, asking for help when you need it is tough, but it’s so damn important.
It’s going okay, I think. It helps to know that I have a safe space to vent out my issues. So when my days get unbearable – I at least know I have a chance to dissect it all. I also like having someone change the way I see things. I’ll explain a situation and say “yes, I know I’m being dramatic” and my therapist will explain to me that I am actually not being that irrational. That A + B will result in me acting out in C. It helps, now when I am in a certain situation, usually a social one, the anxiety won’t necessarily go away but I can better understand what is causing it and that, at least, makes me feel a little better.
Talking to friends is important and great but I cannot emphasize that talking to a professional is so much better. I, of course, acknowledge that not everyone has that privilege.
Talking to a stranger who I know won’t judge me for the things I say, who I won’t have to see around every day and be reminded of all they know about me. That helps and it also helps to get a different perspective on your life. The people around me know me, they have an image of me they have already cultivated in their minds so any advice they give – they give taking this image into consideration. And maybe sometimes that image is a lie. I’m great at looking like I’m doing well and dying inside. So it helps to have someone who doesn’t have any attachments to me listen.
The most important thing here is listening, I’m paying this person to listen to me so they have to essentially do that. With people I know, offloading often feels like I am burdening them and in turn, I can’t always be as open as I want.
None of us can do this alone.
Take that scary step.
Ask for help.
You can run away from many things but you can’t escape your own mind.
If you ask my mum, she’ll say that I’ve always been a quiet child, one of the side effects of being born so premature, or so she says. I’m not so convinced though. I remember faint memories of a carefree young girl, running around, loud and confident, but maybe that’s the girl I choose to remember.
Here’s the thing, I’m shy. Painfully shy.
People who know me well would probably laugh at that statement. I’m opinionated, friendly, and sarcastic to a fault. But if you don’t know me well, you might never find that out because I’m quiet, so quiet that you might even think I don’t like you.
Some days, I’m confident and out there. On others, I prefer to sit and watch the world go round. I’m quieter than some people, usually in groups when I like to just sit, listen, and chip in when I feel like it. When I’m alone with one or two people, though, you can’t get me to shut up.
It’s just what I am like. I’m having a great time and I’m happy.
A few years ago, my sister and I returned to Brazil to see where we were born and to visit old family friends. My Portuguese was rusty and awful but I understood everything being said, I just couldn’t speak it very well. So, I handed the ropes to my sister. One evening while we were with an old friend, she turned to my sister and said, “Is she always this quiet or is it the language barrier?” my sister regarded me and answered, “She’s always like that…she observes.”
It was the first time anyone had brought it up matter-of-factly and I actually thought about it; she wasn’t wrong. By that point, my Portuguese had gotten better, but I remained as quiet as I had been when I couldn’t communicate.
I never really saw anything wrong with being quiet. I just don’t speak as often as others. Until some time ago, someone told me that being around me can take some effort with having to pull me into conversations and all. It made me feel self-conscious and, honestly, for a while, I started to wonder what was wrong with me.
I started to analyze my behavior and began obsessively wondering what people were thinking about me.
Was I making the conversation awkward? Did I need to chip in more so they realized I was listening? Had I become someone who no one really wanted to be around but were too polite to say so? I tried, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t change the quietness that had become a fundamental part of me and it made me hate myself.
So I did what an anxious, on-the-verge of a breakdown Mitta does, and asked the people I love most about it. I have a large group of friends that I’ve known for a decade and I’m definitely the quietest out of them all. I asked my friends about it and put them on the spot.
They assured me that they love me as I am and I think that realization is what made me stop caring. It’s easy with them though, there is no effort required and I haven’t thought about it since.
I don’t want anyone to put in the effort to pull me into a conversation. I want them to be okay with the fact that I will involve myself when I want to.
In a way, I have found myself a little bit more by having that discussion and facing it. It’s also made me understand other aspects of my life better. I’ve always loved written words, immersed myself in books and far-away lands. I know that I can convey myself much better by writing something down rather than saying it aloud. So, it’s no surprise that I took to Twitter so well. It’s a way of saying what I’m thinking without having to physically say it.
The thing is, being quiet isn’t a defining or overarching trait and it’s not a terrible thing. It’s just a thing.
It’s as much a normal part of me as anything is and it’s a shame that I was made to feel like it wasn’t. It doesn’t mean I’m meek or boring, it doesn’t mean I’m hard to be around. All it means is when I say something, it’s usually great and you’ll want to be listening.
I think we can all agree that 2019 has been a hell of a year and politically – it has been draining.
We are now in the time of information overload. There is so much happening everywhere in the world, so much that deserves to be spoken about that can actually be accessed incredibly easily. But I’m not sure our minds were created to be able to take in everything, to have a stance on everything, all the time – it’s exhausting.
Nevertheless, 2019 has been one of the most important years because, in the face of all the bad, there has been so much room for good, so much space to share stories that may have been lost in previous years, so much room to grow as individuals and to educate ourselves about the world we live in.
Here are some of the most important stories of 2019.
1. The Holocaust isn’t the only genocide that Germany needs to be held accountable for by Julia Métraux
The Holocaust is undoubtedly one of the one worst things that could have happened, however, unknown to many – it isn’t the only genocide that has occurred, not even in Germany. Julia explores the horrors that the Herero and Nama people endured in Germany so that they aren’t forgotten and hopefully one day will receive the reparations they deserve.
2. An art installation in Pakistan about police brutality faces censorship by Sabreena Memon
Sabreena explores the intricate relationship that Pakistan has with Censorship by discussing an art installation named the Killing Fields of Karachi. This piece touches on important topics such as the effects of censorship and the importance of art as a means to start essential discussions.
3. In conversation with Aysha Baqir on her novel Beyond the Fields by Shehrbano Naqvi
Shehrbano talks to Aysha Baqir about her novel Beyond the Fields, a story based in Pakistan that touches on issues such as gender-based violence and justice. It is fascinating to understand what drove the author to write this incredible tale and what points she found most important to shed light on. This article is a great introduction to what is undoubtedly an amazing book.
4. We have to stop ignoring this massive Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy by Kari J
Kari lays out the facts of the Jeffrey Epstein issue step by step so that it is easy to understand one of the biggest conspiracies of the year. She urges sexual assault victims to continue to speak up, despite the many who aim to silence them.
5. It’s about time we see eating disorders as social justice issues by Meg Leach
In this piece, Meg sheds some light on why in particular sizeism and diet culture contribute towards eating disorders and what we need to do to combat it. I’ve seen this topic discussed in so many ways but I feel like this article is a fresh take with a discussion around the causes, the impact, and the barriers to recovery.
6. This is the bitter truth behind your cup of tea by Iman Saleem
We all love a good cup of tea, it’s prominent in many cultures and a staple in so many homes. But like most of the things we consume, how often do we really think about how it is made? Iman explores the struggles of the estate workers in Sri Lanka and the methods they are using to try and gain better wages and treatment. This is a great insight into a too little talked about subject.
7. #AmINext: we need to talk about femicide in South Africa by Erin de Kock
The issue of femicide in South Africa is sadly not a new occurrence; this year the case of Uyinene Mrwetyana bought it back into the spotlight. Erin explores the question on everyone’s mind – Am I next? A fair question in a country where a woman is murdered every three hours.
Sharlene looks into why people are leaving cities and focuses on London in particular. Looking at the near non-existent work-life balance, financial aspects and even climate issues, we can understand why more people are leaving London than moving to it.
9. We have to stop making straight celebrities our gay icons by Federica Bocco
While the relationship between music and the LGBTQ+ community is a historic one, Federica asks some important questions of who our icons should be. Without bashing allies, it is important to note that we can acknowledge and appreciate music by straight celebrities when supporting the cause, but not to forget to lift up and empower LGBTQ+ artists themselves.
So comes an end to a year that we will all remember for so many years to come.
Here is to 2020 – a year we hope is filled with goodness and justice.
I’d known Shareefa briefly before she’d moved to London and then one day I came across a video of her spoken word. And it changed things for me in so many ways. Never before had I seen a strong, Asian woman who came from the same city I did, be so unashamed to share her truth with the world.
This book has so much to offer – if anything, the cover itself is enough to make you want to pick up the book – it has such an ethereal feel to it.
Galaxy Walk is named after a walk in Leicester, UK – and the book follows the theme of sticking to its roots, with a few of the chapters named after streets nearby, streets I have wandered many times in life. To see them celebrated in the written word, well with it, it brings a certain joy that as a young Asian girl, I never got, the joy of finding something relatable. That speaks to me. That feeling that my world isn’t so small – that kind of magic I appreciate so much as an adult. But I cannot even imagine the impact Shareefa is having on the youngsters in the neighborhood.
The first chapter, “Pegasus Close”, welcomes you into her journey with a piece about her childhood and the hot chapattis her grandmother would make as she skipped home from school, home through all the familiar places. I’ve seen many writers try and put down in words the experience of growing up in a Desi household.
The first two chapters explore the sentimental Indian snacks that feel like comfort, the desi obsession with fair skin, the way the system discriminates against the Asian youth, as well as so many things which I’ve never seen written about. It fully encompasses both the comforts and discomforts of growing up as an Asian, Muslim woman. As Benjamin Zephaniah says “Shareefa knows a woman’s place is on the front line speaking truth to power.”
In the chapter “Jury in Space”, Shareefa takes us on a journey through her travels in the world, whether that be in Sierra Leone or Haifa – she shares the beauty of each place she visited, as well as the pain she witnessed. I find this to be a constant theme in this book – she doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She shows us the good and the bad of all the issues she discusses whilst still keeping the tone and making it feel like you are having an intimate conversation with a friend over a cup of Masala Chai.
One of the most important chapters turned out to be one of the shortest. “Grenfell Rd” consists of three poems, an eyewitness account of that night, a reflection a year on and a commentary on the system that allowed it to happen. Grenfell Tower was a 24-story tower block that caught on fire, causing the death of 72 people. For most of us, Grenfell is spoken as though a prayer, we watched videos in horror and helplessness. But for Shareefa, who was there, who tried to help in any way she could – to be able to keep going and use her voice speak of such a thing takes a lot of mental strength. To be able to write it into words and share it with the world so they cannot forget, well that takes bravery I cannot quite put into words.
This book discusses politics, religion, mental health and so much more which is typical from a poetry collection, what makes it striking is the eyes we are seeing all of this through. It’s a perspective which is not often shared with the world – through the eyes of a Muslim woman who is not afraid to be vulnerable and share herself with us.
This book is a gift and I hope Shareefa never stops writing, speaking and inspiring the rest of us.
As an aspiring poet and avid reader, poetry books are what get me through everyday life. Words are my happy place and I cannot explain how helpful some of these books have been for my mental health. They each hold a very special place in my heart.
Here are some of my favorite contemporary poetry books.
Your Soul is a River is my all-time favorite. I adore Nikita Gill and her ability to use the weather and the infinite galaxy to make me feel things. She makes broken things and imperfect people sound so powerful. Whenever my depression is getting the best of me, I try and read a few of her poems to remind myself that I am more than what I sometimes feel like. This book has healing powers.
What people are saying: “Nikita Gill’s words are filled with understanding, courage, hope, loss, recovery, pain, healing, and love. Such an incredible collection of poems for everyone who’s going through rough times and think they’ll never make it. You can make it. You will make it.” – valreads
I love all of Naveed Khan’s poetry books. Honestly, the way he writes is magic; all of his books flow so beautifully and make me way more emotional than I would like to admit. But Everything is Excruciating & Awkward in Doorways, in particular, is special to me because it portrays mental health as a casual part of life.
Naveed writes about trauma and heartbreak in a way that is not romanticizing it but showing you that it does not define you. It was something that I really needed to read, and appreciated.
3. Nayyirah Waheed’s Saltaddresses healing and embracing all the messy parts of yourself.
Salt is what made me fall in love with Nayyirah, but her book Nejma is equally as majestic. Nayyirah is endlessly talented and unafraid to put down raw feelings and turn them into art, and Salt does it by discussing heartbreak, colonization, and self-love
What people are saying: “Her work says what we’ve been thinking in the best, most beautiful way possible. My heart gushes over each page. She’s beautiful, clever, and encouraging.” – Renee McKenzie
As an immigrant of sorts, I can relate to many of the emotions although I do not claim to have felt things as strongly as her. It gives you short stories in the form of poetry and is just incredible to read.
What people are saying: “To understand yourself and where you are, you must first start at the beginning. This artist can take a situation and make it every woman’s story. If you are looking for a good read, read this. It could help you understand yourself or possibly someone else.” – smanson
5. Questions For Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo embodies all of the pain and loss of women everywhere.
Questions For Ada for me is about womanhood and self-empowerment, using the pain and loss and turning it into something bewitching. It builds great respect for all the women who have got us to where we are in life. It explores sacrifices, diaspora, and harsh realities.
The poem that stood out for me is “First Generation”, an ode to all first generation immigrants that made me fall in love with Ijeoma Umebinyuo.
What people are saying: “I loved this book from beginning to end. As a twenty-something, Nigerian-American, I can really relate to a lot of the poems Ijeoma Umebinyuo used. I think a lot of women of color are able to relate as well because so many of us face the same issues growing up in one culture at home and another one outside of the home. Her literary talent had me completely enthralled from beginning to end. I plan on buying this for all of my sisters.” – HELEN
Anthony Anaxagorou is one of my favorite poets in existence.
He is better known for his spoken word and seriously if you haven’t heard of him – YouTube him. It will change your life. Anthony has a way with words that is so eloquent that it is almost inhuman. I have yet to find someone contemporary who his work can be compared to.
Heterogeneous is a stunning collection of poems that tackle a range of important issues in this day and age.
What people are saying: “Saw him live and he blew my mind. If you can, get his book. Even better, of course, is to see him perform his pieces live.” – Illi Syaznie
Preparing my Daughter for Rain is a collection of stories and lessons to teach future daughters, and is written in the form of poetry. If I could describe the way this book makes me feel in one word, it would be calm. Key Ballah discusses so many important issues but everything is written with a touch of self-love. It is an important book that I hope to pass onto my daughters, should I ever have any.
What people are saying: “Kay Ballah’s words are more of a fight song, born from pain, struggle and experience, all of which are described with unparalleled beauty and rawness. She writes to the daughter inside each of us.” – gloombunny
This beautiful collection depicts the gritty, resilient sides of ourselves when having to deal with a world that isn’t always going to be kind to you. These poems range from soft and soothing to tough and breathtaking – every single one makes me feel a different emotion that I never want to stop feeling.
Lana Cindric is one of the most talented poets of our times and I cannot wait to see what more she produces.
What people are saying: “I wanna be this book when I grow up. The poetry in this book is so alive it’s like it’s breathing with you. I’ve found so much inspiration about life and living in these pages.” – Jill V Abernathy
Have you ever had to grieve a love? The ending of something that you thought would last forever?
Because I have, and one of the things that provided me solace was in the pages of Early Mourning Hours. It is an emotional book which portrays heartbreak, finding yourself, and having faith in God in a way that really leaves you speechless. Many a time, the words were so raw that I couldn’t keep reading through my tears.
But it was worth it because everything I felt, I saw reflected back at me through these words. It is a special sort of talent to make the reader feel as though you are rummaging around in their brain.
What people are saying: “Thoughtful, self-aware sentence poems reflecting mainly on the author’s emotional pain as she moves into adulthood. Somewhat reminiscent of Rupi Kaur, perhaps because the writer is also a young woman. However, Samihah Pargas has very much her own voice, which I’m sure will strengthen over time.” – CE Dawson
I mean, this cover is a stunning enough reason to buy this book.
Fatimah Ashgar explores important issues of being a Muslim woman, the partition, grief and so so much more. Through her own unique lens, Fatimah allows you into her life and I cannot thank her enough for this honor. This collection goes through a variety of emotions, some which you connect to and others, which you feel just as intensely.
What people are saying: “A debut poetry collection that looks into what it’s like to be a Pakistani Muslim woman in America. Filled with anger, joy, confusion and love. For such a short book, it packs a wallop.” – Amber Garabrandt
It was painful to write this because to narrow down my favorite poetry books to 10 felt like a betrayal to all the other amazing works out there. Have you read any of the poetry books above? Do you agree or have I missed a crucial book out?
Let’s take this back to the beginning. The relationship between India and Pakistan has always been rocky.
Following a recent attack in Kashmir, India accused the attackers of being from Pakistan and being backed by Pakistan’s government and army. The situation quickly worsened, and suddenly the talk of war was thick in the air. Priyanka Chopra, being the amazing UNICEF Ambassador she is, decided to take the time to comment on political affairs.
In February, Chopra wrote a tweet supporting the Indian armed forces saying, “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces.”
This tweet came along following an announcement from India that it had launched airstrikes in Pakistan. These airstrikes prompted a retaliatory response from Pakistan, and as a result, the hostilities between the two countries surged.
The tweet isn’t the beginning of the issue.
Priyanka Chopra famously wed Nick Jonas and invited the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to her wedding. Modi is known for his right-wing policies and inciting racism towards the Muslims of India. Recently, Modi scrapped Kashmir’s autonomy and blighted the lives of those living in the Valley. The place is sucked into bloodshed, conflict, and disorder. Innocent people are dying every day. Fear engulfs Kashmir as local people fight for their lives.
It’s not surprising then, that a woman who seeks a wedding blessing from this monster…. well, is a monster herself.
If you’re in the public eye and have problematic views, you must expect to be called out on them. And this is exactly what happened.
A video of Priyanka Chopra being called a hypocrite by a brave Pakistani woman has taken the social media by a storm. At a beauty event in Los Angeles, Ayesha Malik confronted her about her outrageous and irresponsible tweet, Chopra’s mantle of composure fell away at once.
“Whenever you’re don’t venting”. Sorry, didn’t realize that speaking on a humanitarian crisis was “venting” pic.twitter.com/OqCLgjDNa1
“So, it was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbor, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite,” said Malik. She went on to point out that despite being a UNICEF Ambassador for peace, she encouraged nuclear war between the two countries.
As someone who has lived through the dangerous times when this country has been at the brink of being torn down by war, I can understand where Malik’s coming from.
Everyone has been waiting for the talk of war to dry up. Everyone is scared.
Through her privilege, Chopra probably hasn’t experienced this terrifying feeling, and her frosty response to Malik made her lack of compassion evident.
“Whenever you’re done venting … got it, done? Okay, cool,” Chopra said, with a taste of condescension. “So, I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India, and war is not something that I am really fond of, but I am patriotic,” she added. She ignored the point Malik was making and disrespectfully continued to be condescending and just plain uncaring.
It was evident that Chopra was taken unawares by Malik’s sudden question. She sputtered out a response that a) completely missed answering Malik’s question and b) was unfairly attacking the woman asking a simple (quite necessary) question.
Malik was still speaking when two men snatched the microphone from her hands, yet she still held her ground and continued.
Since when have asking logical, relevant, and blunt questions become venting?
Next, she accused Malik of yelling at her. If you ask me, yelling is far less outrageous than cheering for a nuclear war that can potentially wipe out all life from the earth. But then again, Malik wasn’t yelling, only asking a question. And if she hadn’t had her mic taken away, she wouldn’t have had to raise her voice. Chopra tried to turn the tables on Malik, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
She didn’t really answer her question. and more importantly, she has made it evident to anyone who didn’t already know that she is not worth supporting.
Being patriotic and walking the middle ground are vague explanations and do not defend her stance of supporting war. The responsibility of promoting peace falls more heavily on her shoulders because she is not only a famous international actress but also a UN’s Goodwill Ambassador.
Malik has since come out on Twitter and accused the Indian actress of gaslighting her and making her look like the “bad guy”, and rightly so.
Hi, I’m the girl that “yelled” at Priyanka Chopra.
It was hard listening to her say, “we should be neighbors and love each other” — swing that advice over to your PM.
Both India and Pakistan were in danger. And instead she tweeted out in favor for nuclear war.
Chopra’s insulting and disrespectful attitude toward Malik sparked feelings of anger and disappointment among audiences across both sides of the border. Many took to social media to express their anger.
.@priyankachopra so ugly inside (venomous words, toxic expressions, gaslighting phrases) can't believe she was ever #MissWorld (I thought the least they did was converse in a respectful manner), much less a @UN Goodwill Ambassador. What is she good for, generating more hate? https://t.co/yIzetJuN5H
Trigger Warning: This piece contains descriptions of physical and death, mentions of Grenfell, Gaza, Paris attacks and New Zealand attacks.
To be honest, I never know what my stance on social media is. I’m always flip-flopping between thinking it’s a great place to connect with people and with it being an extremely toxic place. But I love Twitter. Twitter is where I get my news. It’s a fact that most news is on Twitter way before any articles get written up. People often live-tweet events while they are taking place. Basically, Twitter has replaced traditional news outlets as my go-to for breaking news, it’s great for letting me know what’s going on immediately.
The danger with social media platforms like Twitter is that it is unfiltered. So yes, you’re more informed, can corroborate sources, make up your own mind in this world of biased news reporting, but you also have to prepare yourself for what you’re opening up to see. This world is a horrible place and many have become desensitized to awful events, deaths, and tragedies.
Regardless of how much I see, it still gets to me.
I remember Grenfell, I’ll never not remember Grenfell. I wasn’t there, I knew no-one in that building. But every now and again, I’ll get flashbacks of the coverage and end up in tears. I watched it unfold on Twitter, watched helplessly as others filmed people banging on their windows, begging for help. Ultimately dying. I scanned through countless records of the events, from eyewitnesses to people filming their own last moments.
I can’t imagine the trauma that the onlookers suffered, because I still feel like I live with an aspect of that trauma, simply from witnessing it second hand. It hurt. I would have done anything to have been able to help them.
I remember a few years ago, Gaza was being attacked (which is sadly a regular occurrence but my first time hearing of it through this lens). I follow so many who live there, on social media and I remember their first-hand accounts, their reality. I would go to sleep and wake up obsessively checking their social media feeds for updates. Not of the catastrophe but of themselves, desperately praying they’d made it through the night. Unable to sleep some nights in absolute fear for them.
There are people who don’t know me, who I’ve never spoken to but whom I so desperately needed to be safe.
I remember the Paris attacks, the videos that flooded the internet. The horror, the helplessness – I couldn’t help myself, I devoured every drop of information. Every horrible detail about it. It’s the same with the school shootings, the terror attacks, the on-goings in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Venezuela and every other part of the world that is bleeding.
I don’t know when my sick fascination with horror began, or why I just can’t stop scrolling.
And then the New Zealand attacks occurred and I was not prepared. Such violence in a place of prayer, during such a commonplace event. See this time I wasn’t looking. The videos popped up on my timeline – two videos. One of the shooters live streaming the attack and another from inside the mosque of the causalities. And I knew, just like the others that these would be embedded in my mind forever.
There are some things you cannot unsee.
So here is my dilemma, I feel by even discussing this that I am making the issue about myself. I’m lucky enough to have never endured such evil, those who have are the real sufferers of trauma. So then comes the real question, if I ignore these videos because it’s hard to watch – am I being ignorant? Am I willfully avoiding the truths of this world?
I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that I am human. The overload of information and trauma can be overwhelming and when it gets to the point where I am now, curled up in bed, feeling sick, unable to function and utterly helpless – well at this point I’m allowed to log off. I’m allowed to process and heal.
Maybe it means that I am too sensitive, but I don’t think our brains were made to take in this much all the time. That this wonderful creation that allows us to share what’s happening in the world can also be bad for us. That mental health is real and sometimes being ignorant for a little bit is how we survive.
The truth is we can’t help everyone – we can share things, we can fundraise, we can bring awareness to certain topics. But we can’t always help everyone the way we want to and that is a hard pill to swallow. Therefore, if logging off for a little bit is your way of coping? So be it.
Whether you are happily shutting the door on 2018 or gearing up to take on the year to come, now is the time to look back and remember all the good parts that got us through this year.
|t has been a year of change, resistance and innovation.
During all the political turmoil, humanitarian crises and plain shitty occurrences that 2018 gifted us. It is easy to forget that it has been a year of never seen before advances in the fields of money, tech, science, and careers. The world is changing, and it is incredible to watch.
Here is a roundup of our favorite Now & Beyond articles that helped us survive 2018.
Women are usually left out of our history books, their accomplishments forgotten and their existences wiped out. We’re taught time and time again about the powerful men of the past, the warriors who fought bravely. Always assuming that women have never had a place in the battlefield. This year, through recent DNA analysis, we were able to verify that not only were female Vikings an actual thing, but they were also revered in their communities.
It’s proof that there has never been anything that a woman can’t do. Read more.
It’s easy to admit that most of us at The Tempest are self-confessed astronomy nerds.
I mean, what is better than watching celestial objects and phenomena occur. It’s nice to know that there is something out there, some beautiful things that we have no power over. We humans cannot influence or ruin them. (For now anyway).
2018 was blessed with so many opportunities to stop and watch the universe around us. From the Perseid Meteor shower to the blue moon, this year has shown us the beauty that lies beyond. We cannot wait to see what 2019 brings us. Read more.
As a desi, who has spent most of her life in the UK, I almost forget how clever my ancestors were.
There is a perception that the west is the bank of knowledge and my people are “backward.” I’m ashamed that I spend so much of my youth ignoring the traditions my mother tried to teach in fear of being teased about them. This listicle goes through many desi cultural traditions and explains the science behind them, because yes, there is logic and fact behind these things.
From sleeping directions to bangles and mehendi, it turns out everything has a reason. Read more.
We can easily find a pick-me-up article on following our passions and be motivated, but then what? Well, in this piece, Arushi helps you solidify that “then what”.
Telling someone to follow their passion is great, but we tend to lack the how and an understanding of the everyday struggles that come with it. This article helps you stop and think about how to go about it, where to start, and what to do in order to actually follow your passion.
If 2018 was your year of making some groundbreaking decisions to follow your passion, then 2019 is your year to actually get things done and maybe even enjoying the journey along the way! Read more to know how you can map your path out!
All of us have gotten rejected somehow, whether in our careers or personal lives.
And if we haven’t, as Dawn says, we may not be reaching far enough or challenging ourselves much. And that means stagnancy and lack of growth.
Growth is amazing, but not without the struggle of rejection. And no matter who you are, rejection sucks. Taking the time to mourn it, accept it, and learn from it before getting back into it makes all the difference. Here’s to our readers becoming better with each rejection in 2019. Read more.
The typical entrepreneur story seems to look like this: A cis-gendered, straight white man in a suit, walking into a boardroom of investors with a great slide deck. After killing that presentation and wow-ing them, he is shaking hands, kicking ass, and taking names.
Yeah, let’s back up. Today’s entrepreneur is looking less white, still a little more cis-gender straight male than it needs to, and not always all that confident and successful.
“Nevertheless, she persisted”, right? Mashal’s incredibly honesty story speaks to many women about that gut-punching thing called imposter syndrome. Read more about what the non-traditional entrepreneur really looks like.
Besides the chaos and endless stream of memes that have made 2018 what it was, another stand out trend featured nostalgia. We saw remake after remake of our favorite 80s and 90s television shows and songs, 90’s fashion trends reared its head once again, and we got a dose of technological throwbacks.
In this piece author, Jesse Shamon explores the phenomenon of tech nostalgia, and how during times of turmoil we all turned to the past for escape. Read more and explore her questions of what exactly we’re escaping from in our technological future, the answer could save us all one day.
The New Year always brings dreams of more financial stability and prosperity, but for some of us, it’s not that easy. In a capitalist world, black folk will always face challenges due to a history of slavery and our ties to our roots. Afrocentricity keeps us tied to our heritage and those old ways of life just don’t mesh well with a rigid, capitalist society. Read more on Smith’s honest and thought-provoking take on what’s normally just deemed as black laziness.
I’m just going to say it, I miss the Obama’s!!! And I especially miss Michelle Obama. In this story, we hear the amazing tale of how a little encouragement pushed our author to new heights. From traveling across the world helping every community we touch, challenging gender roles in society, and taking ourselves to new heights, this piece has it all. You’ll definitely want to read more because this is the exact energy we want to take into 2019, now and beyond.
If you are anything like me and obsessed with all things creepy and unnatural, you will have heard of Creepypastas. It is basically a bunch of internet horror stories, myths, and legends. As with anything based on rumors and gossip, these stories took a life of their own and many different versions of their stories exist. With the release of the Slender Man movie and Halloween creeping around the corner (I don’t care what you say I’m already getting geared up for Halloween), I decided to revisit some of my favorite tales.
Creepypastas originated back in the early 2000’s, with the official website being set up in 2008. It is now its own genre and it is magnificent.
So let’s take a look at some of the most horrifying creepypastas stories.
1. Slender Man
True to his name he has long slender arms, legs, and no distinguishable facial features. Slender Man is found wearing a black suit and stalking people, prominently children but it is not clear why. He is apparently able to stretch out his limbs to impossible lengths and capture victims. It is also rumored that he has black tentacles that emerge from his back, making his reach that much more terrifying.
Slender Man originates from a SomethingAwful Photoshop competition and took off from there. There are various creepy stories and myths about this well-known creature and people all over the world have claimed to have actually seen him in real life.
2. Jeff The Killer
Jeff The Killer has a bleached face, no eyelids and a smile carved into his face – sounds like a sweetheart right?
Jeff, it turns out does seem to have one concrete backstory so we’ll just stick to the Creepypasta version. The story follows teenage Jeff and his brother Lui who move to a new neighborhood and are victims of bullying. Jeff retaliates violently, and the police come for him, but his brother Lui takes the fall. Jeff once again gets into a fight with the bullies, gets drenched with bleach and set alight. He pretty much loses the plot after this, killing his own family before setting out after others.
Legend has it that Jeff tells the victim to “go to sleep” before killing them.
3. Ted the Caver
Ted the Caver began as an Angelfire website in early 2000 which followed a man called Ted and his friends, Brad and Joe, as they explored a local cave in a series of blog posts.
The further they went into the cave, the creepier things got. The cave held strange hieroglyphs and weird weather phenomenon, and as a consequence, the explorers ended up with strange nightmares. The blog updates ended suddenly making it all the more mysterious.
A man did come forward to be the author of the blog and said that it had been inspired by true events, and he went as far as to point out where the cave was.
4. Robert the Doll
Robert the Doll is an actual doll that can be found at the East Martello Museum.
It is supposedly a cursed doll that was gifted to Robert Otto, an artist, in the 1900’s. He named the creepy doll after himself, as you do. The story goes that the doll terrorized his family who claimed that they had even heard the doll speaking with Otto in many instances. Neighbors say they saw the doll move around the household through the windows when no-one was in.
It is said that before taking a photo of Robert, one must ask his permission or be forever cursed.
5. The Goatman
This creepypasta story was originally found on 4Chan’s paranormal board.
In this story, a teenager travels to Alabama to be with his family and ends up going camping with his cousins. They encounter a strange figure, which starts to follow them around. The Goatman drives the teenagers to paranoia throughout the night.
The Goatman is just as you would assume – part goat and part man.
Back in the day myths were created by spoken stories over fires and passed down by generation. In this day and age, all one needs is a good imagination and some wifi. I have to admit my favorite part of these stories is how unoriginal the names given to them are, I mean, I would maybe take some of them more seriously had their names been slightly more horrifying.
There are so many more legends entwined with bits of reality out there terrorizing folk and making us all doubt what is real and what is not. CreepyPasta is a wonderful hub for those whose wish to learn more.
Here’s to hoping Jeff The Killer doesn’t catch me in my sleep.
I’m an adamant believer that if you believe in something, you should apply it to all parts of your life – you don’t get to pick and choose where it fits in.
So I can’t pretend to care for the world and continue to buy products that are not human/animal/ environment-friendly can I?
I don’t know about you but knowing that my clothes and jewelry are produced and sourced in an ethical and sustainable way definitely makes me feel good. If I feel good on the inside, it always reflects on the outside. I know, you’re now imagining very dreary potato sack-like outfits, but its 2018 folks. It’s time we buy from ethical clothing brands.
Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for a fairer, safer, cleaner, more transparent fashion industry; the UAE edition of Fashion Revolution took place a few weeks back and was action-packed with pop-ups, panel discussions, workshops, and a sustainable fashion show, with collections designed and created by students!
It’s super easy to dress up with ethical clothing brands and slay at the same time.
Teesing is a Dubai-based company that produces cute tops made out of 95% bamboo fiber.
Why bamboo? Well, the benefits are actually too many to count. The first and most obvious reason is that bamboo fiber is eco-sustainable. Yaye! Another ethical clothing brand!
Fun fact: bamboo is a super fast growing crop that doesn’t need fertilizer and regenerates without the need to be replanted. So if you’re going for a hassle-free, good-for-the-world clothing choice, then bamboo is the one. It’s also great for sensitive skin, has inbuilt UV protection, high absorbency, and natural antibacterial properties.
This is a stunning collection of jewelry and accessories made from recycled gold, sterling silver, and brass. More than that, you can instantly see the effort that has been put into making each piece an unforgettable addition to your own collection.
The collection was created by Melika Dahlouk, as part of her mission towards “sustainable creativity.”
The entire process of creating these gorgeous pieces from start to finish follow human- and animal-friendly guidelines, which makes buying yourself one, two, – or maybe three! – pieces totally justifiable, right?
If you are looking for custom made, breath-taking jewelry that will last you a lifetime, then Eklectik is perfect. Now, this isn’t the place for flimsy seasonal pieces that barely survive the month. Eklectik creates the kind of wearable art that you want to pass onto your children (I mean if you don’t want to be buried in it that is). Have you ever wanted something but struggled to find it in real life? Like you can imagine it perfectly, but there is a chance it doesn’t exist? Well, fear not, you bring the vision and they will create the jewelry for you.
Personally, I love the idea of owning something that is truly one of a kind.
For pieces of jewelry that are a little more affordable but just as creative, Vice Jewellery has you covered.
This UAE-based brand offers women’s jewelry and men’s jewelry, all of which is far too tempting to pass up.
Each individual design is bold and created to stand out from the rest. There is just something so rustic and unique about these designs- personally, I’m in love with their super cute bloom stud earrings.
Okay, so you’ve all probably heard of Swarovski’s beautifully-crafted crystals – they really are something to behold.
But what you possibly don’t know is how committed to sustainability this brand is. Swarovski is committed to using the most responsible crystal available, as well as other materials of the future.
They are constantly for more ways to ensure that sustainability is incorporated at all stages, as well as ways to collaborate with others so that the industry does better as a whole. I mean, sustainability is a great plus to these absolutely stunning pieces of jewelry.
I will admit that I have never been the healthiest person. I was the kid who was always last in the school cross-country sessions. Exercise has always been a form of torture in my mind.
As I grew older, I noticed that I had started putting on a lot of weight for no reason. The doctors diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). PCOS makes it more difficult for the body to use insulin and usually results in weight gain. I learnt that the more weight I gained, the higher the chances of me ending up with other health issues because of the PCOS.
So to avoid any health problems, I’ve had to make a very proactive change in my life, to become more active.
As an absolute newbie to fitness, I wasn’t sure where to start. After a lot of research and hit and misses, I ended up with 5 apps which that have been incredibly helpful, and have definitely helped me take care of my health.
This app helps you keep track of your calories by inputting all of your meals into a daily journal. You enter your weight and the weight you wish to get to. It will work out a daily calorie intake that is healthy to get you where you want to be. It is super useful because you can search the brand or food type, or even scan the bar-code and it will tell you how many calories is in that item.
You can also add any exercise done and it will keep a journal of fitness. It is a great way to just keep track of everything you eat and to make you aware of your calorie intake. I’ll be honest before this app, I never paid any attention to calories and what I was eating.
2. Couch to 5K helps you run a marathon in just a few weeks.
When I decided to enter the unfamiliar territory of the jogging army, a friend recommended this app to me. This app is a godsend to anyone, who like me, doesn’t know where to start. Couch to 5K builds you up steadily so that you can run 5K by the end of nine weeks.
For the first time use, you walk for 5 minutes as a warm up.
You then follow the app and run for a minute and walk for a minute and a walk and then run again, you do this repeatedly.
The more you do it, the more it increases your running time until it eventually builds you up to be able to run without dying. I’m not able to say I’m a proper jogger yet, but with this app I’ve come so much further than I ever thought I could.
You literally just sync it with the motion and fitness part of your phone and it counts your steps itself. You can checks the number of steps you’re taking every day, and the number of calories you’re losing by taking those steps . This app also allows you to create plans and set a goal for yourself, everyday.
Another thing I love about this app is that it works so well with my other apps. I am able to sync Pacer with My Fitness Pal. Therefore without me even doing anything, I’ll be able to check how many calories I have lost by walking on My Fitness Pal and will be able to add that to my daily intake.
4. Sworkit is like having a personal trainer in your phone.
Going to the gym has always been slightly daunting for me, and I wanted to increase my stamina before I subjected my pain to others. With Sworkit, you can create an account where you enter all your details and then decide what you want to use this app for; you can be pretty specific such as specifying weight loss, toning etc.
You are able to select individual workout or you have the option of letting it create a plan for you. The plan will list workouts for you and tell how how many times to do it and for how long, it will then work you through guided workouts. I also enjoyed having a plan and knowing what I had to and when, it kept me motivated.
In addition to focusing on my physical health, I found it was equally important to look after my mental health too. I’ll be honest I always thought meditation was for pretentious people but boy was I wrong.
This app has a basic 10-day beginners course in meditation which guides you through short meditations. These mostly consist of breathing exercises and exercises that help in relaxing your mind.
I did these every morning and I can’t explain how much of a difference it made to my day and moods. Before this app, I had seriously underestimated the importance of taking some time to calm your mind.
In all honesty, I’m not a very motivated person, so I’m glad that these apps worked and motivated me to make some huge life changes.
2017 was intense. We began the year with the largest worldwide protest in history as more than 300,000 people gathered for the Women’s March. That was only the beginning, though. This year we have been blown away by the women leaders who have been innovating in every sphere of life, in every corner of the world.
This list wasn’t easy to create: we are spoiled for choice when it comes to strong, innovative, amazing women and the list is not presented in any order because we simply couldn’t bear to rank such a diverse group of change makers.
If this is what the future looks like, we can’t wait.
1. Brittany Packnett
Brittany Packnett is a social justice activist, educator, organizer, writer, and speaker – basically the superhero we all need. Her achievements include being the co-founder of Campaign Zero – a police reform campaign, as well as being a member of Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
Additionally, Brittany is the vice-president of national community alliances for Teach for America and featured on Pod Save The People.
2. Carly Findlay
Carly Findlay is a writer, speaker and appearance and disability activist. Carly started writing about life with Ichthyosis on her blog in 2009, and since then she’s become a leader in the disability rights movement in Australia. She was featured on the ABC’s You Can’t Ask That in 2017 and she’s working on a memoir.
Carly is working to change the way people think about people with visible differences, shattering the silence and making the world a better place for everyone.
3. Aditi Juneja
Aditi Juneja is a lawyer and activist who founded the Resistance Manual – a site which describes itself as ” focused on presenting truthful and actionable information to empower people to participate in their democracy.” It is a site with information to resist the Trump/GOP administration.
Due to her incredible work with the resistance, Aditi was included in the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 list, and we had the privilege of interviewing her earlier in 2017.
4. Simone Zimmerman
Simone Zimmerman is the co-founder of If Not Now, which seeks to end the American Jewish community’s support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The movement aims to end the war on Gaza, end the occupation and demands freedom and dignity for all.
Simone is an inspiration and symbol of what can be achieved when one refuses to be silent.
5. Monica Jones
Monica Jones is a sex worker and activist working in Arizona to combat anti-sex worker laws that target women of color, the LGBTQ community, and trans women. Monica was arrested under the law she was speaking against, the case was eventually dropped.
She is a badass who continues to speak out about injustices and refuses to allow herself to be intimidated.
6. Reina Gossett
Reina Gossett is an activist, filmmaker, and writer who produces movies about trans* women. She notably wrote, directed and produced “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” which follows trans* rights activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Reina has also worked with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Queers for Economic Justice, and Critical Resistance.
7. Maysoon Zayid
Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian-American actress and comedian with cerebral palsy who made history by being the first person to ever perform stand-up comedy in Palestine and Jordan. Maysoon co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, gave an incredible TED Talk, and also co-hosts the Fann Majnoon comedy show.
She spends three months a year running arts programs for orphans and children with disabilities in the Palestinian territories to help them deal with trauma.
8. Shareefa Energy
Shareefa Energy is a London-based spoken word poet, writer, and force behind the play, ‘Wombs Cry.’ Shareefa uses storytelling methods to highlight issues in society and challenge stereotypes of Muslim women.
Her achievements include receiving the UK Unsigned Hype Best Spoken Word Artist 2014 award, being invited to perform in Berlin at ‘Poetry Meets Hip Hop,’ and being featured on Channel 4 for National Poetry Day 2015.
9. Imade Nibokun
Imade Nibokun is a writer and activist who runs “Depressed While Black,” an online platform that shares stories about being depressed while black, fighting the idea that it is a white person’s disease.
Additionally, her written work has been featured in LA Weekly, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, VICE, and WNYC.
10. Lauren Duca
Lauren Duca is a writer who changed the narrative of Teen Vogue by writing an article criticising Donald Trump, which spearheaded the direction the teen publication took into the space of political activism.
Lauren won the Shorty Award for Best Journalist, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Tomorrow Is Now Award, and was honored with an Engendering Progress Award.
11. Katrin Jakobsdottir
Katrin Jakobsdottir is Iceland’s new Prime Minister. Unlike some world leaders who don’t believe in climate change, Katrin is an environmentalist and badass anti-war feminist.
She is the second female Prime Minister of Iceland, part of the Left-Green Movement, and is one of the world’s youngest leaders.
12. Noorjahan Akbar
Noorjahan is the founder of Free Women Writers in Afghanistan, which is a collective of Afghan writers and students that promotes the voices and stories of women in newspapers and on the radio.
In 2013, they published a collection of work titled Daughters of Rabia. In 2016, the Daughters of Rabia scholarship was founded to fund higher education for women in Afghanistan.
Their second book, You Are Not Alone, is a guide for women facing gender-based violence. It came out in English in September 2017.
13. Mashal Waqar
Mashal is one of our fearless leaders: the co-founder and CTO here at The Tempest. Mashal is a fierce advocate for accessibility and inclusion, and in 2017 she was awarded the Young Leader of the Year award at the 19th Global WIL Economic Forum.
She has given a TEDx Talk on the impact of social media and continues to raise awareness on how to make online content more accessible.
14. Amelia Cook
Amelia launched Anime Feminist, a groundbreaking website dedicated to discussing anime and Japanese pop culture through a feminist lens in October 2016. Amelia is a vocal advocate for fair compensation for her team of diverse writers that are often sidelined in the world of anime fandom and has built her business around that – something we discussed in an interview with her.
In 2018, she’s launching Otagai, a platform for creatives to discuss ways to make money doing what they love.
15. Wendy Zukerman
Wendy is the host of the Science Vs. podcast, which she recently moved from Australia to the US. She tackles controversial topics by sticking to the cold, hard scientific facts.
By bringing science to popular, politicised topics, she’s changing the science journalism game.
16. Isabelia Herrera
As music editor of REMEZCLA, Isabelia’s accomplishments in 2017 include initiating partnerships with NPR and Apple Music, hosting Remezcla’s first music podcast, and being honored on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30.
At only 25, Isabelia’s passion for music, and race/gender identity has created a diverse insight into the Latin culture. We love her dedication to representing diversity in an inclusive and supportive manner.
17. Alex Petri
Alex Petri has been making us laugh with her column in the Washington Post since 2010. The youngest person to ever have a column in the Washington Post, her satirical take on politics has landed her many fans, including the White House.
Lesley Nneka Arimah is a Nigerian writer whose short stories have appeared in many magazines, including the New Yorker. Her debut novel What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, a collection of short stories released in October 2017, has already won numerous critical accolades. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize, and nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize.
The stories explore the black female experience with incredible beauty and lyricism and are totally necessary for your bookshelf.
19. Princess Nokia
Destiny Frasqueri, known by her stage name Princess Nokia, is a queer feminist rapper who first came onto the music scene in 2010. She quickly spurned advances of record companies to become an independent artist.
Her album 1992 is filled with smart, witty lyrics about race, gender and gentrification and her podcast ‘Smart Girl Club Radio’ is further proof that the sky is the limit for this amazing human.
20. Molly Yeh
After attending Juilliard, Molly Yeh packed up her Brooklyn life to move with her husband to a sugar-beet farm in rural North Dakota and took the blogosphere by storm with her food blog, My Name is Yeh.
Molly’s blog filled with stunning food pictures, recipes inspired by her Chinese-Jewish roots, and fun anecdotes about farm life has amassed a loyal following which led to the release of her first cookbook, Molly on the Range, in 2017. We love her beautiful, creative recipes that blend her life on the farm with her cultural roots and a deep love for food.
21. Doreen St. Félix
At only 25, Doreen St. Félix has an impressive resume which includes being the former editor of Lenny Letter, writing for the New York Times Magazine and being listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016.
Currently, she is a staff writer at the New Yorker. St. Félix’s cultural commentary on everything from Whitney Houston to the Alabama Senate Election keeps us engaged, woke and wanting more.
22. Rochelle Brock
The creator of Fat Leopard Photography, Rochelle Brock, is a 22-year-old Brooklynite is challenging beauty norms through her breathtaking photographs. Brock’s work focuses on inclusive fashion photography that reflects women of all sizes and races. Her images of diverse, confident and gorgeous millennials have taken the internet by storm and we can’t wait to see what waves she makes next.
If you don’t have Rina Sawayama’s mini-album RINA on your playlist yet, you are seriously missing out. Rina’s lyrics explore the messy interaction between femininity and technology. Her sense of style, the penchant for calling out online prejudice, and nostalgic ode to pop music, has got us stanning for this future pop-queen.
24. Mona Haydar
Hailed as “One of the Best Protest Songs of 2017” by Billboard, Syrian-American Mona Haydar’s debut song Hijabi (Wrap my Hijab)became an anthem for Muslim women everywhere. Raised in Flint, Michigan, Mona calls out racism and violence within the Muslim community.
Creator and host Megan Tan began the podcast Millennial as a means of building a portfolio for potential future employers. Little did Megan expect, her podcast, a personal narrative about navigating life post-graduation in her 20’s, would hit a chord with the listeners and become a hit.
After three years of sharing her stories, Megan bid adieu in her last episode in August 2017. Though we miss her insights into life, we know she is just getting started.
26. Sara Shakeel
Sara Shakeel is a Pakistani illustrator and artist who quit dental school to create art in the most unabashed and unfiltered way. Sara’s work came into the spotlight this year when she transformed images of stretch marks by adding glitter and crystals to them.
Her portrayal of stretch marks is a reminder to women everywhere that we have the ability to change the perception of beauty and see flaws as art.
27. Aisha Dee
Acting in television shows since 2008, Aisha Dee is no stranger to our TV screens. In 2017, this young Australian made a splash on MTV’s ‘The Sweet/Vicious’ and then bagged one of the leads on ABC’s breakout hit ‘The Bold Type.’
Whether it be navigating her sexuality as Kat or being a supportive sorority sister as Kennedy, Aisha’s portrayal of young confident millennial women always has us rooting for her every step of the way.
28. Molly Tolsky
In 2017, Molly founded the website Alma, which is geared toward young Jew-ish women or, as the site puts it, “Ladies with Chutzpah.”
The website serves as a platform for Jew-ish women to share their personal stories, from an Orthodox trans* woman writing about being torn between her Jewish identity and the trans* community to speculating about Gwyneth Paltrow’s possible Jewish wedding. We can’t wait to see what Molly has in store for the coming year.
29. Aditi Mittal
Fierce and funny, Aditi Mittal could absolutely be crowned India’s Comedic Queen. One of the first prominent comics in India, Aditi has been featured on BBC World as one of India’s trailblazers and has performed across India, the UK, and Los Angeles.
In 2017, Aditi released her first stand up special on Netflix ‘Things They Wouldn’t Let Me Say’. Her unapologetic comedic approach to sexism, misogyny and patriarchy is a reminder that humour can be a powerful tool used to instigate change.
30. Iman Meskini
Iman Meskini is a 19-year-old Norwegian actress who portrays a young, Muslim teenager named Sana Bakkoush on the TV show Skam. In a country like Norway that is predominantly atheist, Iman’s portrayal challenges tropes around Islam being radical, backward, and oppressive.
Iman hopes that her portrayal of Sana will help people to learn how to separate culture from religion. She joined the Norwegian military on a volunteer basis because, as she states, she “enjoys a challenge.” We’re so excited to see how Meskini grows as an actress and advocate for Muslim rights.
31. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer
As a scholar, artist, and activist, Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is revolutionizing the world’s understanding of the intersection between Muslimness and Blackness through her anthropological research and performance art.
Dr. Khabeer brings her research to life through one-woman performances like “Sampled: Beats of Muslim Life,” a performance ethnography on Islam and hip-hop. In addition to this, Dr. Khabeer leads Sapelo Square, an incredible online resource documenting the Black American Muslim experience.
32. Kehlani Parrish
Kehlani Parrish is a 22-year-old African American, Caucasian, Spanish, Filipino, and Native American singer, songwriter, and dancer whose recent album SweetSexySavage (2017) received critical acclaim. She has been nominated for a Grammy, AMA, and BET award.
As a queer person having gone through an attempted suicide, as well as difficulty in her early career, Kehlani is a role model to us for her bravery and honesty.
33. Yara Shahidi
17-year-old Yara Shahidi is well known for her role as Zoey Johnson on Black-ish and her upcoming spin-off Grown-ish, but she is also an activist for representation and diversity in Hollywood. In a recent article for i-D, Shahidi explained that she wants to use her platform as an actor to discuss politics in a way that is accessible to everyone.
Her belief in advocating for the understanding of the “spectrum of humanity” is what we all need in the current political climate around the world.
34. Saher Sohail
24-year-old Saher Sohail, better known as the Pakistani Martha Stewart, is famous for her witty artwork challenging western stereotypes around Desi culture, and oppression within Desi culture itself. Sohail provides a platform for South Asian women to revel in their shared experiences and discuss important political topics.
We’re looking forward to seeing how Sohail’s art will grow in the future!
35. Thi Bui
Thi Bui is the author of The Best We Could Do, a graphic memoir about her family’s immigration from Vietnam to the U.S during the Vietnam War. Bui wrote the novel empathizing with her parents’ experiences as human beings, rather than parents.
In the difficult political climate around immigration in the U.S, Bui hopes that her novel will encourage people to see immigrants as human beings rather than “Others.” We are so excited to see the effects Bui’s book will have on the public, and what she has planned for the future – a nonfiction book about climate change in Vietnam.
36. Nayla Al Khaja
39-year-old Nayla Al Khaja is the first female film director/producer in the United Arab Emirates. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her films, including the Jury Special Prize for “Best Short Fiction” for ‘Animal’ at the Italian Movie Awards in 2017.
Reima Yosif is likely the quietest about the work she does, but if you do some digging around, you’ll definitely find it. She is the Founding President of Al-Rawiya Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting empowerment of Muslim women through education, arts, and integration. As part of her non-profit work, she worked on a research project for Religions for Peace USA, commissioned by UNICEF in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Armed with a diploma in Classical Arabic, she has scholarly licenses to teach books of Hadith and Tafsir – a powerhouse amidst a space that is dominated today by men. She has extensively studied and written on comparative Islamic Jurisprudence. She has translated over 200 Islamic texts into English and is also a published poet.
38. Lena Waithe
In 2017, Lena Waithe won an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series” for ‘Master of None,’ the first Black woman to do so. Her portrayal of Denise on the show is a revelation: a portrayal of the kind of gay woman that rarely makes it on TV.
Her moving Emmy acceptance speech went viral and had LGBTQIA+ people around the world reaching for tissues. Her next project is a show she created and wrote, ‘The Chi,’ about her hometown on the South Side of Chicago.
39. Jean Liu (Liu Qing)
Jean Liu is the president of Didi Chuxing, China’s largest mobile transportation platform. A breast cancer survivor, mom of 3 and one of very few women executives in the country (in 2015, just 3.2% of CEOs were women).
At the helm of Didi, the company has outperformed its competitors, including Uber!, and is paving the way for the sharing economy to revolutionize China.
40. Becky G
Becky G, a Latina singer, actress, and model, had a pretty busy 2017. Her single Can’t Get Enough with Pitbull charted #1 on the Billboard Latin Charts and she starred in her first film role in the Power Rangers movie franchise.
As the Yellow Power Ranger, not only did Becky G kick some supervillain behinds, but she also knocked out stereotypes with her portrayal as the first visible queer superhero in mainstream cinema.