Amira Shohdi is a bold fashion blogger and feminist advocate, slaying the social media world with her Instagram and YouTube presence. Her latest campaign, “I Can’t Do It All”, is refreshingly unique with its take on women empowerment in the Middle East and dismantling taboos, while unapologetically addressing everything we’ve been told not to talk about. My chat with her was a blast. We talked about feminism, her opinions on social media, “I Can’t Do It All”, and her experience as a woman in the corporate world.
First, I asked Amira about the pressures of looking perfect –and the imaginary ideal often presented on social media. On her page, she stresses a lot on the idea of rawness and embracing one’s flaws. “I wouldn’t say I’m not wearing makeup when I am, or have hair extensions and claim it’s my hair. Selling a false beauty ideal to an audience of women is extremely dangerous, and unethical.” Shohdi also added, “There’s nothing wrong with makeup or beauty care in general, but there’s a problem with deception. I don’t want to trick women into thinking that I have everything.”
Amira’s latest project, “I Cant Do It All”, tackles the pressures women face to juggle everything all at once. Mastering everything and ticking every box, from career success, to motherhood, and beauty. This narrative is often encouraged even in feminist communities but, of course, comes with a lot of distress. When I asked Amira about what drove the campaign’s idea, she said it was something always in the back of her mind. She was always very aware of the pressure of such a notion, even amongst her very diverse women circles, where she found everyone relating to the concept. Shohdi stressed on that saying, “I want the women to talk. I want to give them space to talk.” Even though in the Middle East a lot of the topics addressed on the platform are taboo that makes it even more important to start somewhere. In societies where women have to work much harder to be recognized, maybe there is comfort in sharing and accepting that we aren’t perfect and we don’t necessarily owe that perfection to anyone.
Another initiative within the campaign that sparked my interest was “My Truth”, where followers are encouraged to share their own stories and contribute to the narrative. Shohdi explained that one of the struggles she faces is getting women to talk. Once, a girl asked her to remove a post after her parents found out about it. Amira was interested in knowing if the parents actually reached out and helped their daughter in her struggles with mental illness, or only cared about their reputation and appearance as Amira put it. This incident proved that the truth is vital to women today more than ever. Amira elaborated on the initiative stating, “I want women to own whatever it is that they do unapologetically.” She also added giving an example about a famous actress who faced backlash for a revealing dress, saying that her apology was problematic. Owning up to the situation to Amira is the right choice instead of covering it up with a lie, and I couldn’t agree more.
When I asked Amira about the English nature of the campaign and her messages online generally and how they could not be for everyone or inclusive, she replied honestly explaining how she’s being her true self. Given her identity and the fact that she’s been living abroad for a long time, this is her natural way of communicating. “If I’m not being myself people won’t relate to me.”
Of course, I had to hear what Amira had to say on social media and the ultimate controversy of whether it helped or harmed women more. Amira called it a “love-hate relationship” where obviously there are lots of advantages, like being given the opportunity to help and learn from others while doing the same for others. “It’s being misused more than properly used,” Amira pointed out. Moving to the content, Amira talked to me honestly about how –for her– fashion on its own is fun but it’s not “fulfilling”. “Sometimes, I receive criticism like just stay in fashion; people want to have fun and be entertained.” Amira also perfectly put it, saying, “If I die tomorrow people are not gonna say I miss her outfits, they’re going to say she was smart and driven.” One of social media’s greatest issues is cyberbullying, which, unfortunately, Amira has had her fair share of too. “I’m very aware of my followers, and I’m there to interact not just post. I just let them say whatever they want, and have a very authoritarian approach of just blocking them,” Amira jokingly said. Amira also explained how while everyone is entitled to an opinion that doesn’t give them the right to voice it and harm others.
Also, the issue of gaslighting was something we had to address. Amira simplified it by saying, “Men who feel threatened resort to trivializing our problems.” Another thing that Amira also added was how women themselves act as soldiers to the patriarchy, even more than men. Amira said that men are initially brought up by their moms to a false sense of superiority, which results in them having a dysfunctional relationship with women later on. “We get enough shit from men!” Shohdi exclaimed, which is why she stressed on the sisterhood concept and how women need to be each other’s support systems. “I had ten hands helping me up,” added Shohdi.
Lastly, I asked Amira about her experiences as a woman in the corporate world and the struggle to be taken seriously. Shohdi started off by saying, “At work it’s almost 805 men, so you have to really speak up. That, of course, is in addition to the inappropriate comments you’re forced to tune out; overthinking my choice of clothing and makeup in order to not get called “tired”. I’ve never heard a guy get told that they look tired at work before. Never!” In addition to that Shohdi elaborated, saying, “Men don’t fear the consequences as much as we do, and they’re not made to care to be likeable as much as women. It’s like we’re programmed to be sweet.”
“I Can’t Do It All” is Amira Shohdi and every woman’s message to the world, calling for acceptance and equality.
You can find Amira on Instagram:
@amirashohdi and @icantdoitall.