Starting off a new series on the blog ‘In My Closet’ where we’re all going to meet one girl (or boy) and have a grounded, honest, soulful conversation about her style, beauty regimens, body confidence and overall acceptance for herself. I wrote about it in detail here (or here) so if you’d love to read more, it’s right there waiting for you.
For the first installment of this series that I’m super excited about, I’m introducing you to Arfa. I ‘met’ Arfa through Instagram a few weeks ago. She had replied to one of my posts (I think?) and her profile picture looked really interesting. I randomly checked her Insta and immediately loved her spirit and self-expression. I had been processing the idea of this series in my head since a couple of months at that point in time and seeing Arfa just immediately made me want to make it happen. I quickly DM-ed her and within a few days, we’d had a long conversation that I cannot wait to share with you guys. Let’s go?
Note: Any nasty comments, mean behavior, sarcasm, general badtameezi about any of the people who are part of this series will be considered garbage and I shall ban, block, delete you with a deep passion and also complain to your mother. If you have love to give, bring it on, otherwise, here’s some love from my side, keep it with you and try to be better.
So. Hi Arfa! Tell us about yourself, please.
Hi! I’m a journalist heading the digital editorial team of Newsweek Middle East and news reporting in parallel for a mainstream Pakistani news channel. I’ve also recently started my own YouTube channel (Hey, Arfa) where I try and document the experience of a young, female, hijabi journalist living in Dubai with the intention of showcasing the city outside of its luxurious stereotype and basically just capture the soul of the place.
Any unique/weird stuff we should know about? (because that’s always important)
My eyes change colors. I used to be a huge tomboy until I was 18 years old and didn’t start wearing makeup until my second year of university, at age 20. I have a little bit of Uzbeki in my blood. I actually like salads.
Awesome! It was really great to ‘meet’ you! So, what do you think your style is like? (low-key intrigued by your eye color changing thing btw).
I think I’d categorise my style as fusion-desi-grunge? I like taking minimalist pieces and adding something edgy to the mix. Fashion is self-expression, and combining that with my journalistic ethic of freedom of expression, I typically end up choosing unusual things and don’t mind going against ‘the rules’.
Do you wear makeup everyday?
Definitely not. As a journalist, there are days when you literally have to jump out of bed and straight into your car to cover an emergency. That means sometimes showing up with a naked face at work, and you gotta be okay with that.
What’s the one cosmetic you’ll always have on or one feature you’ll make sure is set?
Do you feel comfortable without makeup?
Absolutely. You don’t owe the world a “beautiful face.” You owe the world a beautiful soul. Ads try their best to profit from our insecurities by telling us to present ourselves a certain way, but honestly, these insecurities are all in our head.
Break down your look for me. How do you get ready on the daily? How do you choose your makeup or clothes?
As a journalist, I have to keep in mind my schedule for the day before picking out my clothes. Is it going to be a super active day, will I be out in the sun, do I have meeting or interviews? With that in mind, I don’t spend more than 15 minutes getting ready. I usually just pick whatever makes sense to me that day and then pair it with some edgy accessories or a nice printed scarf. My go-to look will usually be cool chunky earrings, a minimalist turban headscarf, some trendy sunglasses and a popping lip color to tie the whole look together.
Do you do anything differently when going out and you want that little extra something?
I probably try to make use of the eyeshadow palettes that I keep hoarding but never use, LOL. And heels, of course.
If you could wear one outfit or makeup look for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oooh man, that’s such a tough one because fashion for me is all about artistic self-expression, which usually means I keep switching up my look! But I think I would wear a long, black georgette kurta with jeans and a bold printed scarf. And then super luminous skin with some bronzer, heavy mascara and a bright lip.
What do you love the most about your appearance?
I would say my eyes are probably my best feature.
Is there anything you were criticized for and have learnt to embrace?
My weight. I was bullied about it throughout my life by relatives, teachers, literally random people on the street. It’s hilarious because my weight has almost always been an issue for everyone except me. For a while, people’s words were hurtful and I could feel myself becoming insecure about my body. But eventually, I realized that the way I look is literally no one’s business but my own, and that I love myself even with all my flaws because outer beauty is only secondary. I realized that I owe this world and the people in it the best version of myself, which I can only offer if I genuinely love and respect myself. Self love enables you to love others, which is why empowerment begins with yourself first.
Your current beauty or style obsession?
I think I’m having a major moment with chokers. I’m reliving my 90’s dreams that I was too young for in the actual 90’s, haha! Also, turbans. Because my big-ass round faces deserves to be seen in all its glory, haha.
What’s your most favorite accessory?
Trendy sunglasses! Adds instant edge to your outfit.
Favorite kind of lipcolor?
I love them all! Bright, bold pinks, deep maroons and definitely black.
Versace Bright Crystal.
Favorite drugstore buys?
Bourjois Push Up Glamour Mascara, Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, Maybelline Studio gel liner and Revlon nail polishes.
How do you take care of your skin everyday?
I hardly ever use foundation or any kind of cosmetic base on my face. That helps prevent any blocked pores and breakouts. I have sensitive skin prone to breakouts, but overall my skin type is not problematic. I just stick to the basics – cleanse, moisturize and use SPF. An occasional peel-off mask from the drugstore when my skin’s looking a bit dull. That’s it, really. Oh and four litres of water a day. Yes, four.
How do you take care of your body everyday?
I try to eat healthy as I can, avoiding a lot of carbs and sugary snacks. I work out a couple of times a week with boxing, Zumba and some weight training. But honestly, working out consistently is a bit of a struggle given my hectic routine. I’m really determined for months and will go to the gym 4-5 times a week, and then I won’t work out for a couple of months in between. A healthy body definitely needs consistency, which is what I’m trying to achieve currently with my workouts.
Do you have any beauty traditions passed down to you from family or loved ones that you love and still follow?
My secondary school Arabic teacher from Egypt – a total sweetheart and a fantastic teacher – had the most radiant, clear skin. She told us to cool green-tea bags and use them on our eyes and face as a toner. That works wonders every time my skin needs a little energy boost and radiance.
Have you changed anything in your beauty routine over the last few years/versus your younger self?
I’ve just started taking care of my skin more consciously now than before. So using SPF, moisturizing often and using a face mask every now and then, but nothing too drastic. I think the older you get, the more focused your skin care habits become since you are more in tune with yourself and your body.
Any beauty experiments you did that went wrong?
I got my upper lip waxed once. Never again. My skin is quite sensitive so it became really red and raw, in fact it ripped from the corners of my mouth. Yeah, I’ll stick to threading.
Any DIY remedies you swear by?
Empty a green tea bag in a bowl, add honey, a few drops of lemon, and a teaspoon of baking powder. Use this as a scrub and leave on for 10 minutes. Glowing, refreshed, baby soft skin within minutes.
What’s the most drastic thing you’ve done with your appearance?
I wanted to dye my hair purple! But I’m too afraid of damaging them. Probably going out in public with black lipstick has been my most daring fashion choice. I wore it to a friend’s birthday party and I got a ton of compliments on the bold choice of color and how I centered it around a colorful outfit.
I love black lipsticks, still have to try one out though. Do you have any piercings?
I have a septum piercing that I got when I was 22. At that time, I got it because of the whole trend with septum piercings and didn’t realise that this was a cultural practice in India and Pakistan during our grandmother’s generation. In fact my own grandmother had the piercing. So I wanted to kind of re-explore and reclaim that narrative and show that this is not just a fun accessory but something that was actually part of our culture that we don’t know of, particularly because some of these are often looked down upon or considered backward.
How do you unwind at night?
I’ve recently discovered the Sephora brand rose makeup remover wipes, and it’s actually been such a game-changer for me. I used to hate taking my makeup off at night and would often go to sleep with it on (I know! THE HORROR!). But with these wipes, they’re so refreshing and calming, it’s become a small “me-time” at night. I take my makeup off, moisturize and then lie down with my journal and think about everything I’ve achieved during the day. Then I write down the things that make me uneasy or are giving me anxiety, and basically try to come up with a game-plan for the next day, week, month, year, etc.
Name one thing you can make with your hands really well?
I’ve been told I’m really good at cooking in general. My specialties are burrito bowls, chicken pie, ginger tea and pakoray.
Do you think you fully love yourself?
I think self-love is a constantly evolving journey, but it is also a mindset. There are always going to be days where you are uncomfortable and insecure about your body, and that is okay – It’s what makes you human. I didn’t always love myself. It was difficult at first, because we, as desi women, are brought up in a culture of “modesty” and “humility”, which although is a wonderful value to instill, can also be damaging. We constantly try to shrink ourselves. To be humble and modest is to not hate yourself or diminish your value. It is to know that you are just as beautiful as other human beings out there, and that the world doesn’t center around your existence – but that you still have much to contribute to it.
Okayyyyy, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you SO much, Arfa! For sharing parts of your style, your skin/body regimen and personal sentiments about this whole beauty thing so, so honestly.
I hope all of you guys loved it. And if you did, do send Arfa some love for talking to all of us 🙂 ‘In My Closet’ is the first of a few new series I have planned for the blog and I’m terribly excited to slowly share them all with you.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If you’d like to be a part of the ‘In My Closet’ feature, here’s what you have to do: Email me (no Insta DMs, Snaps or FB inboxing) just simply email at firstname.lastname@example.org with 4-5 pictures of yourself showcasing your style. I have no requirements. You can be any size, skintone, style aesthetic, no makeup, full makeup, head to toe covered, naked (ok let’s not do naked). You’re not ‘too short’ or ‘too tall’ or too thin’ or ‘too fat’ for me. You don’t have to be fully self-confident and secure with yourself, you can be here with your fear and insecurities. I got an overwhelming response from my post last night so I’m really grateful to everyone who messaged and I’m going to try and introduce us to all kinds of interesting people. I can’t promise to respond to everyone but I hope to get back to people I’d love to have on the blog within 2 weeks of your message. See you.