Basima, our model repping Palestine proudly in our Origins Collection photoshoot, shares a bit about her story, life, and what beauty means to her.
See below for her outlook.
Alopecia is an auto-immune disease resulting in partial or complete absence of hair. People often mistake you for having cancer and think you’re sick. Alopecia, however, is not a condition that’s contagious or has any cure. Doctors actually don't know what causes it. Like any other disease, Alopecia affects people differently. Some people are born with hair and then lose it. Others are born with hair, lose it in patches and sometimes can take steroid shots, which means their hair grows back.
In my case, I was born with alopecia totalis, hairlessness with the face and scalp included. When I was younger, I used to wear wigs; it was something to do so that the people around me could feel comfortable, at my own comfort’s expense. Wearing makeup in general wasn’t something I grew up with, so the idea of drawing in eyebrows and putting on lashes was never something that I exposed myself to. I only recently started to do makeup with lashes and eyebrows. It gives me a sense of power over how I want to look and when. When I do wear makeup or lashes, I don’t feel the need that I HAVE to in order to conform to what society’s definition of beauty is.
It’s a difficult endeavor especially because the power of society and particularly social media plays a major component in how we feel about ourselves. So many people assume things about me and would ask - “If you get married would the kids have it?” Or “Why can’t you draw eyebrows in? You can just cover it with hijab.” All of these experiences brought me to a singular conclusion: accept who I am and how I was created because the one who created me, makes no mistakes. He doesn’t need for me to cover myself in order to cover an imperfection. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Covering myself, and having alopecia opened up my mind to studying hijab and embracing it. I could have gone my whole life wearing wigs and putting on makeup in order to be accepted into a world that is fickle and constantly changing the definition of beauty. Instead, I choose me, unapologetically.
Due to social media and the constant exposure we have to “beauty,” I’ve started to think about the messages we receive more and more. There are so many expectations we have from women, for women; in order to “fix” something about yourself. These things are fine as they are, but they are incessantly in our face to a whole new degree. I have a daughter & to see her come up in a world where this is literally what everyone is obsessed with is terrifying because these things will impact her physically and psychologically. I always think - there’s so much more to being a woman, and to life in general. There is so much more in acceptance of oneself, imperfections and all, and it is more empowering than trying to cover our own natural beauty. I wish we showcased this more.
Social media really does have the power to break you. If there isn’t a healthy limit to what you allow yourself to be exposed to, it can consume you. Because it’s so easy to forget most of what we consume is not real, the strongest of us can break too. I remember watching a video of a poem describing the way we are all able to put filters on ourselves with a push of a button, erasing all of our blemishes and imperfections- but what about the imperfections of our hearts? This goes to show that society constantly tries to sell us the idea that we must having the “perfect” outward appearance, and never second guess the inward.
My advice to women who find themselves exposed and put down by these beauty standards: everyone has insecurities. It’s okay to have them, and work towards accepting yourself. If that means you want to put on makeup - that’s okay. If that means you yourself have alopecia and want to wear wigs and makeup, all the power to you. It just becomes dangerous when it becomes obsessive. If you find yourself not able to leave the house without putting makeup on (not because you want to but you feel you’re not pretty without it), that’s when I think it’s important to take a step back. I would recommend refocusing and thinking about how you define beauty. Is it really you defining it, or the world around you?