“I had to kind of hide that identity a bit. I had to kind of assimilate into what Western society was,”
CULTURE AND UPBRINGING
While ethnically Pakistani, Mina was born and raised in Boston, USA and her experience was no different than the average TV version of first-gen immigrants. “It was very weird, because when you’re little you don’t differentiate that you’re, like, different from people,”
As the years passed, Mina became more susceptible to culture shocks, within her very culture “there wasn’t really a strong muslim, or south-asian community,’ so what does one do when at the brinks of adulthood, you undergo the very common identity-crisis that every third-culture individual goes through? How does one maneuver that rite of passage; how did Mina maneuver that rite of passage?
SOCIAL MEDIA & IDENTITY
“Being ethnic somehow became cool, now everyone doesn’t want to be white,” as with social media trends that rise and fall, have cultural heritages and ethnicities; individuals’ entire identities become a point of sale?
Step right up, fill into this aesthetic for more likes and views! But what’s wrong with that? Is this not the very same media that for decades on end have sold us that white features are the only desirable features? Are these not the very same platforms that forced billions of young girls into thinking that they needed to lighten their skin or straighten their hair or wax it off or not eat too much, but also to not eat too little? Is this truly the time to be politically correct, when so much is at stake?
Mina is one south-asian, muslim content creator reclaiming the narrative.
Yes, it did indeed help that her features were now considered in and wanted, but as with the nature of trends, there was bound to be a time for them to cease, what then?
“It is a dumb trend, but it also helped me realize that me being from a different country and not looking white, isn’t a bad thing- it should be celebrated.”
But while Mina’s content has inspired many women out there to take charge of their own narratives, their own self-perception, how did her family perceive her work? “Nobody really knew until I was, like, 6 months in when we flew back to Pakistan and my younger brother being naive blurted it out and I was like ‘oh no’,”
Interviewer: Did you get discouraged from the criticism you were receiving from your extended family?
Mina: No, if anything it encouraged me more.
As social media recycled its fashion trends over the years, many people whose features didn’t belong to those categories struggled to find their sense of style; their confidence. “I think trend, after trend, after trend- when we reached the Y2K, that’s when I decided to follow my own sense of fashion,”
Discovering a sense of style that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin, that doesn’t cater to one specific category of individuals, can play a huge role in how you feel about yourself. Your body isn’t at fault, most likely you’ll find that you’re trying to force your body into something it wasn’t meant to be, “Once I realised that some things work for other people and that I don’t necessarily fit in with those people, that’s when [I felt confident],”
“I used to wear makeup to hide my features, now I wear makeup to compliment them,” is a struggle known all too well to ethnic girls everywhere. Living with the inherent belief that their true features were disposable, unrequited and unwanted.
And while makeup is often seen to be a means used to attract men or look good for others, the truth couldn’t be farther than that. That women use makeup to feel more beautiful, more comfortable and more confident in their own skin. Which is what Mina is teaching brown girls everywhere.
THE BROWN BEAUTY WORLD
Growing into yourself in an online space can be brutal; you’re exposed to everyone’s critique. Even to people who might’ve in instances been pioneers of your industry or people you might look up to. Since almost all industries globally virtually always leave out south-asians out of the equation; it’s up for girls like Mina to figure out what works best for their features, what makes them feel like their physical features, although not their most important asset, are one of their most beautiful ones.
By overcoming critique and criticisms of many and sticking her ground for what works for her, Mina is teaching brown girls everywhere more than just makeup and fashion tips; she’s teaching them that it’s ok to take up space. It’s okay to exist and voice your opinions, in all domains of life.
“When you’re very visibly brown and your name is very visibly muslim, you get a lot of backlash from people in your community,” with a start into the social media scene back in 2019-2020, Mina’s content was more of a humorous critique of her cultures and communities, which didn’t warrant her the greatest fan-base, “it was awful, I’d have guys and little girls telling me I’m ugly,”. As Mina geared her focus towards muslim-minority countries and cultures, was when the nerve-wrecking cyber-bullying she’d been experiencing had finally dissipated.
And while Mina is now content about the community she’s slowly curating, a part of her grieves over having to isolate herself from that part of her identity. Which pegs the question, why do middle-easterners and south-asians feel comfortable enough to bully one of their own? Why do they not, instead, feel comfortable enough to openly encourage someone who’s evidently passionate about what they do?
With tik tok pushing out some billions of tik toks a day and instagram with reels, when do we, as consumers, determine that enough is enough? “Everyone posts the same thing these days,” Do we, in the face of that, decide to brave it out and push out our authenticity and originality or do we go with the flow? “When I found myself kind of falling into that [same curated content], I was like ‘oh no!’,”
Now, it’s quite difficult to miss out on Mina’s content. Her style is so unapologetically hers, that when you stumble upon it anywhere, you can’t help but watch it through.
“I had to allocate my free days to batch content that would sustain me for the rest of the week,” As a finance-marketing undergrad, Mina’s time can be very limited and so she often times tends to regard her online presence as a job; an obligation “it’s the only way to motivate yourself at times,”
While Mina’s ideal is to pursue her content-creation career full-time , she doesn’t entirely scratch out the idea of pursuing a career under one of her degrees, “ I wouldn’t mind working in a marketing agency,”
MINA THE ARTIST
Upon commissioning a piece of art of Marrocco for a good friend of hers, Mina quickly gained traction for her art, “A lot of people were like ‘make more’ and so I did!,”
Since her art journey began in the height of COVID, Mina had plenty of time on her hands and was at some point creating 20+ pieces a day.
A lot of Mina’s work also circulates around the Palestinian cause, “It was never money-oriented,”
You can find more of her work and more information about her work at @madebyminahasan on instagram.
For fashion, these are Mina’s must-haves:
2- Fine-knit sweaters
And these are the makeup items Mina cannot live without:
1- Morphe continuous mist
2- Valentino Eye-To-Cheek Blush
“I would tell my younger self that it gets easier & you’re not ugly, you’re just not white,”