The Edit

Empowered: This is Me

After Illamasqua announced the Anti-Fascism Pledge, we were inundated with support from around the world. We felt the power of a collective voice from fans, both new and existing to those who had never heard of us before, all wanting to speak out…

Exclusively for the Illamasqua blog, we have put together Empowered: This is Me, a series of interviews with individuals who felt empowered to speak-up and tell their story. Mariam Abbass is one of these individuals. Read her story below…

Tell us a little bit about why you took the time to contact us after our Anti-Fascism pledge…

Initially it was the picture of a model with a headscarf and makeup on. It’s something that, as a Muslim myself, I’ve been waiting a long time to see. I was also so sick of the rules and regulations being discussed by President Trump, so to see one of my favourite makeup brands speak up and challenge these views was inspiring and made me even more proud to support a brand who respects people of every background.

Is there any part of our page that resonates with you?

“So please, if you don’t agree with the above DON’T BUY US.”. This really took me by surprise. For a company as huge and wonderful as Illamasqua to say they don’t want certain customers to buy from them is a big deal! It showed me that you aren’t a company all about money, but instead focus on what really matters; that every single human is so much more than their ethnicity or age or sexual preference.

Have you ever been personally victimised?

I’ve been victimised many times in the past; growing up I didn’t have the easiest time in school. The bullying began from a young age and never stopped until I finally moved over 100 miles away from a place I called home for 17 years of my life. I’ve always been a big girl; it’s something I have battled with every day of my life. Being bullied made me feel like a monster, a beast. It made me feel like someone who didn’t belong. My family were more ‘sensitive’ about the issue. I come from a Pakistani background where being fat or dark is looked down upon. I still face the battle of my weight every day, but I have faith and I know one day I will be able to sleep peacefully at night and not have to worry about the battles which may come tomorrow.

As a Muslim, I chose to start wearing the hijab around the age of 12. It was never forced upon me; I wore it as my own choice. However, while I am proud of the fact I wear it, it has caused me to stand out in crowds. I used to work in a supermarket as a cashier. Once I had to deal with a customer who asked me if he could be “served by a white woman instead…”. I was only 16 at the time and I hated confrontation so I just carried on like I didn’t hear anything.

Only a few weeks ago I was walking home and some men shouted racist remarks at me from their car while they were speeding past. Yes, I have been victimised and it upsets me, it really breaks my heart… but what’s worse is that there are people who genuinely believe it is okay to judge someone based on the colour of their skin, their religion or ethnicity. I wear the hijab because I CHOSE to. Maybe it’s about time people start to judge me by what’s IN my head as opposed to the piece of cloth wrapped around it.
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Do you think more brands should stand up and challenge extremist views?

Absolutely. There comes a time where every person on this planet will realise that actually we ARE in control of our future and if we don’t stand up and speak up for ourselves then we have no right to complain about the consequences.

There are millions of popular brands around the world. Use it to your advantage, if you’re reading this then you’ve already taken the first step in believing you can make a difference. If you’re like me and share the same values, then speak up because there is no better time than right now.

If you could talk to everyone in the world for 5 minutes what would you say?

Make your day be as flawless as your makeup. You deserve to live a life you are excited about, don’t let others let you forget that. People all around the world who don’t even know you, are rooting for you- including me!

I know it’s scary, I know how easy it is to shut the world out and to feel defeated but you are not alone. Throughout life so many people will try to bring you down but you know what you must do? Brush it off, stand your ground and say “This is who I am and I am amazing.” Every inch, centimetre, even the tiniest of particles are made up of exploding galaxies… we are stardust so do what you were born to do and shine.

Tell us about your goals, where do you aspire to be in 5 years?

I know the sensible answer is to say I’d like to be in a good job after passing my exams, possibly on the arm of a handsome husband and on my way to becoming some kind of doctor or teacher. But in all honestly, I just want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you, I didn’t give up.” I want to be the first plus size model who wears the hijab. I want to be the model who helped change beauty standards all over the world; someone who made it without having perfect skin or a toned body. Because if your dreams don’t scare you then they aren’t big enough.

After Illamasqua voiced the Anti-Fascism Pledge, we were inundated with support from around the world. We felt the power of a collective voice from fans, both new and existing to those who had never heard of us before, all wanting to speak out with us. Exclusively for the Illamasqua blog, we have put together Empowered: This is Me, a series of interviews with individuals who felt empowered to speak-up and tell their story. Mariam Abbass is one of these individuals. Read her story below…

What one thing do you love about being you?

I have been through things that would scar most people for life… but I coped, I managed, I survived. However, most importantly, I love that I am true to myself. I allow myself to cry or be sad occasionally because we are human and life isn’t easy enough to smile all day, every day and for that, I think I am incredibly brave.

Do you have a favourite Illamasqua product?

It’s hard to just choose one! However, I think if I had to it would have to be [mwi-product sku=”03631″  type=”add” ]. The pigment is stunning and lasts all day, definitely a makeup must-have!

Words by Mariam Abbass
Interview by Nadine Bourne

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Nadine Bourne

Nadine Bourne

Writer and expert