brands, influencer marketing + representation

After enjoying a fairly social media free start to the year throughout most of January, I hopped on to Instagram stories on Monday to see concerns from a number of influencers who pointed out the lack of representation of minority women on the Instagram page of a certain brand, concerns which at the time, were going unheard.

Before I begin to dissect this, it’s important to note that I wont be naming any businesses in particular, as I believe this discussion is greater than any single brand.

A lack of representation of minorities is not new, nor is the fight to be represented. Minorities have been poorly represented in film, t.v. and across the board on all mainstream media, and today social media pages mirror this. This lack of representation in marketing often comes from the idea that minorities do not fit the wider narrative of brands. To put it simply, if we were to split people that engage with brands on Instagram into two groups, we would end up with the consumers and the creators (or influencers). Where most minorities are seen as consumers, many brands fail to recognise them as creators.

So, why do brands choose not to recognise a vast and growing population as creators?

As it stands, I believe many businesses think that they are doing enough by ticking off the small checklist of ‘inclusivity’ they have at hand and refuse to join in further discussions. And others? well, it seems they’ve dug out a comfortable loop hole; the loop hole being this sort of awkward in-between stage that we’ve reached where brands do partner with minority women and collaborate with them on their (the creators)  platforms, but fail to feature women that ‘deviate’ from the average white, slim and youthful woman.

Thus, it often becomes a matter of, – ‘we would love you to represent us to your followers, we would very much be open to accepting the financial gain that your following can provide us, HOWEVER we will not be representing you, or people who look like you on any of our major ‘front facing’ platforms in fear of ‘disrupting’ the consumers who are of a greater value to us because of their ‘whiteness’.

If you’ve reached this point of the article, you might have noticed the inverted commas placed around words like ‘deviate’ and ‘disrupt’, and ‘whiteness’. The reasoning behind this is, that essentially, the way I see it, a lack of representation boils down to a fear of three things; deviating from the old, disrupting the comfort levels of mainstream marketing, and being seen as too diverse to cater for white women.

I know that if you’re reading this as a white woman , the final point may be hard to believe. Because to you, there is enough space at the table for all of us, cis and transgendered, and whether the model/creator you see is a white black or brown woman does not matter to you, and it definitely does not offend you. However, supremacy is still very much alive, and social media is not immune to it, in fact, it thrives on pages where people have the freedom to express their views virtually without any ‘real’ consequences.

The retaliation in the comments section of this particular brand once they did feature a woman of another ethnicity, only proves my point further. I will not be focusing on the very obviously racist comments referring to the skin colour of the model as ‘ugly’, because the motives of such comments are, well… obvious. But the comments that really do bring my point home were the passive kind that I, as a young brown woman on the internet, come across on a regular basis.

These were the kind of comments that dismissed the real concerns presented by Instagram creators, and labelled them as aggressive, suggesting that ‘aggression’ would never bring social change. And that, well that in itself is far more dangerous than a slur/insult could ever be. Because, when the concerns of marginalised groups are labelled ‘aggressive’ and ‘forceful’ by a large number of white individuals, it does nothing but prompt businesses to view the voices of minorities as problematic.
It is this kind of passive retaliation that brandishes any positive change as a brand ‘giving in’ to the pressure of ‘angry’ minorities which pushes businesses to continue to under-represent minorities. Therefore resulting in a continued cycle of maladaptive traits, i.e. marketing that appeases to the ‘majority’.

This brings me to my final point, what about brands and business owners who DO want to be a part of greater discussions? Well my answer to that is, listen. There are many wonderful creatives who put their points across and continue the fight for more equal representation on channels such as Instagram, creatives like Rida (@beforeandagain_) who ask brands to reevaluate and question how inclusive they really are. Listen to the concerns of people who reach out to you.

Like many discussions of cultural diversity, race and gender today, it is usually a matter of unlearning the regressive habits, and dare I say it, ideologies that are continually manifesting themselves in increasingly culturally diverse spaces.

Today, where there is a lack of representation, their is also the voices of those who are asking you to represent them. When these concerns and questions are coming directly to you, there is little space for excuses.

If you read until the end, thank you!

Rimsha

Instagram


a simple pumpkin spice latte recipe

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Before I even get into this – no you do not need a coffee maker. Or any of the machinery that modern artisan coffee has become. This is possibly the easiest pumpkin spice recipe you’ll find, and that’s because I, the novice that I am, made it quite successfully, in the first go!

You probably have everything you need for this at home PSL in your kitchen cupboards, the only ingredient you might have to go out and get, is the pumpkin.

The Ingredients:

pumpkin, around 50g

coffee, 2 tbsp

cloves, (crushed) – 1/2 tsp

cinnamon, 1 tsp

nutmeg, 1 tsp

ginger, 1/4 tsp

vanilla essence, a few drops

sugar sweetener to taste
(brown sugar, syrup, honey)

milk, 250 ml

a large mug

Method:

The part that takes the longest is making the pumpkin puree, for this you’ll have to cut the pumpkin into chunks and steam it.

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Once it’s softened, cut off the skin and mash the pumpkin with a fork, making sure to smooth out any clumps. After this, push the pulp through a sieve for a finer puree. That’s it, the hard bit is over.

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Now, add two tablespoons of coffee to your mug,

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crush 2 – 3 cloves, making up about less than half a teaspoon, no more than that as you don’t want the flavour of cloves to overpower the other ingredients,

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and add both cinnamon and nutmeg to the mug.

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Then add a few drops of vanilla, followed by the ginger and your choice of sweetener, I chose to use two teaspoons of brown sugar. Finally add the pumpkin puree to the mixture and stir all the ingredients up until smooth.

At this point you should have a dark thick mixture, and almost as soon as you start to stir all these together, you’re hit with the warmest pumpkin spice scent.

After this, I heated up the milk on the stove and stirred the hot milk into the mixture.

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All that’s left to do at this point is to top your PSL with cream and sprinkle with extra cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Notes:

I didn’t use an espresso machine, just two tablespoons of regular Nescafé coffee. Also, you could use fresh ginger but I used the tiniest piece of frozen ginger, which turned out to be more useful as it was easier to turn into a paste like consistency as soon as it defrosted. You could also make this recipe in bulk to refrigerate and stir in warm milk whenever you fancy a cup.

if you give it a go, I would love to hear how you find it.

happy autumn!

follow me on Instagram for regular updates

My love for Autumn and a new tag!

#myautumnspace

As the days get shorter, the sunsets earlier and the leaves set alight before carpeting the floor, creating an orange path for me to walk on – I come out of my summer cocoon and blossom into the crisp cold seeking creature that I am. If I was born to love one thing on earth, it would be autumn. 

To say that it’s my favourite season is a huge understatement. There’s just something about waking up to the morning mist settled on my window, stepping out to the fiery palette of the earth and breathing in the crisp cool air that adds the desire to explore a little more to my every day routine.

Each time the season returns, I learn to love a new element of it. But there’s a part of me that has always wondered what autumn is like in the rest of the world.

I can only imagine how each country/region experiences the fall of autumn in a unique way to mine.

Living in the North West of England, I’m particularly interested at how this time of year differs in climates that tend to be warmer – of course I can’t travel the world in the few months that autumn lasts this year (I mean that may be technically possible, but financially near impossible), yet what I can do is experience autumn virtually – and that’s where – #myautumnspace was born. I wanted to create a tag that people all over the world could use to share how autumn befalls in their hometown.

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How to be a part of #myautumnspace:

· point 1, you could use the tag to share a collection of leaves, a photograph of the crisp autumn sky, or simply a write up of what autumn means to you.

· point two, in other words you are welcome to use the hashtag under anything that befits your perception of autumn really.

· I’m always up for a challenge, tag the simplest, or most abstract photograph –

· All autumn lovers are welcome.

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If you are really dedicated, you could also tag your post under the same hashtag (#myautumnpsace) when posting your blogposts too, as I’ll regularly be checking wordpress, hoping to see some autumnal goodness. Hopefully we can come together to see sides of the season we haven’t seen before.

Other seasonal tags I’ve been loving this month are:

– @prettynotinc and @herinternests joint hashtag project #thisautumnlife: the sunday weekly prompts are surprisingly quite inpsiring to my creativity!

– @queenbeady’s #thisishowihueit, which is ‘all about moodier, autumnal tones’

– #pocketsofslow

🍁🍂🌿🌻🌾

// all the best!

Rimsha

Follow my autumn journey and stay updated with regular posts via Instagram

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To contact me regarding a collaboration, or to simply get in touch, drop me an email at: auburnrhyme@gmail.com

 

 

Why I left Instagram

…& quit blogging

 

It started off with a whole string of events that can occur in any ones life, which just meant that I was too busy to be posting regularly. At some point between the ups and downs, I just didn’t want to post..

As consumers of social media, I think concept that begins to blur the most, is picking out reality from a still shot. Its easy for us to forget that a picture is not an exact representation of a persons whole 24 hours, but a reflection of a single moment. Being a writer, I believe my emotions play the most significant role in the way I construct the images around my pieces.  I always thought I had a pretty fair grip on the writing I shared and the writing I kept to myself, until I got to a point where I didn’t want to share any of it.

I just thought, if my captions wouldn’t hold much – posting pictures for me would be pointless too. Naturally, when I started to feel like I didn’t want to post, blogging was the first thing that stopped. I couldn’t bring myself to share a caption, a long-form blog post was a long shot.

I find it funny to refer to myself as an artist but I think that there is an element of artistry to everything a person creates, and just like an artist – I can go through weeks at a time where I do not like anything I write, make or do in general.

I personally do not feel like I have been exposed to a perfectionist culture. I’m not denying that it exists. It does exist and it’s here, but I didn’t have to be on social media to begin to feel like a part of it. It’s something I’d always held in me.

As if not feeling the part wasn’t enough to stop me posting, I eventually thought that my page didn’t look the part too. I guess you would probably see this as a direct effect of all the meticulous feeds you can come across on a daily basis on the explore page. But I really don’t believe that to be the case. I mean, as far back as I can remember – I’ve always wanted my own personal page to look exactly as I envision it to be in my mind – or a close/better alternative. In school I would tear out countless sheets from my work book after writing a single line if I did not like how my handwriting would look.  At times I would complete the better part of a project and start from scratch again.
And I simply see my Instagram page as an extension of my workbook. It got to a point where one morning I wanted to delete most (all) the pictures from my account. But doing that would be the equivalent of setting three years worth of notebooks on fire,

and I’m not prepared to do that just yet.

If you were to see me right now, I would look to you like the living contradiction of everything you’ve just read about me. Because. Well. I’m not a perfectionist, not in the dictionary sense, not in any sense. I mean, I just spilled some tea on my white t-shirt as I’m writing this and I wholly believe it’s alright to continue to wear a tea stained top around for the rest of the day, and believe me, I will.

It isn’t perfection that I’m looking for, its more a connection. I didn’t like the feeling of  detachment from what I myself had put out there.

Like most creators on the internet, I have an emotional investment with each image and piece I publish to the world. I didn’t wanna have to feel obligated to post. I mean at first posting every few weeks felt a little forced, so I stopped. Not posting at all – well, that felt even better. Natural. And more than that, it was the right thing to do at the time.

I know that saying I just didn’t want to be on here is too weak a case, but it was hard for me to approach a topic that I had not fully come to terms with myself. I think its because we’re taught how to react to more open and direct emotions like anger, but don’t really know what to do with the silent underlying ones.

Being a generally positive person, I didn’t feel like any thing I was posting was positive anymore. So I took sometime away from posting to focus on being in tune with myself, and understanding the vision I had within me. I wouldn’t hold myself as an advocate for the importance of mental health if I really didn’t point out that I DID NEED time, and had to just trust myself in taking the time off and learning more about my state of mind.

I know that the time away has done me a lot of good. The blank posts are there to act like as an indent on my feed. This time, it’s important for me to see the physical break in my page and restart at a place I want to be.

I’m back with my (somewhat) unedited self. I’m not promising better content, nor do I think what I post will be any different from before, but it feels good to be back – and that’s all that counts.

Rimsha

oh wait, this entire essay would make a lot more sense if you followed me on Instagram wouldn’t it?

to contact me regarding a collaboration or to simply get in touch, drop me an email at: auburnrhyme@gmail.com

 

 

The Bell Jar: A Review

 

 

The Bell Jar: A Review

realistic fiction

 

(No spoilers, I promise)

10:08 AM. I feel the pages thinning between my thumb and fingers and as I near the end of The Bell Jar, I feel a sudden surge of dull panic. A novel I had oh so desperately wanted to finish and now that I am almost there, I haven’t found closure. I mean it can’t end this way…

 

But it can.

In fact, I am not dissatisfied by the way that Plath ended the novel. I am completely satisfied, yet there’s certainly a large part of my mind that has been shaken. The part of me that recognises that this is the most ‘real’ and tangible closure I could get from an autobiographical novel.

The book depicts Plath’s protagonist, Esther Greenwood as a successful student and writer. The author portrays Esther’s mind as almost transparent; the description used to display the characters thoughts of people and places are the most enjoyable yet heart-wrenching element of the novel, for me.

I have never been so torn between the feeling of dropping the book and leaving it unfinished and reading on to know how it ends ever before. Knowing that this was a reflection of her life and that the author took her own life (eventually) compelled me to read on, it would be disrespectful of me to stop before the end. 

Midway through the novel, the author does foreshadow the end as the novel follows an almost pessimistic tone from a certain point, which is cut ever so slightly by moments of optimism, but never really dies down.

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‘At first I wondered why the room felt so safe. Then I realised it was because there were no windows’.

 

I guess this is more of me venting my feelings about the story than an actual review, bear with me. The thing is, I know that whether I read this ten years earlier or ten years on down the lie, I would pretty much feel just as I do today. But for me to read it just after I turned twenty, and following the neurosis of Esther, who is a similar age to mine and also turns twenty in some dark page, whose number I do not know – just makes the reading experience a little more truer to reality.

 

Part of the way through the novel, I thought I would like to read some of Plath’s poems as soon as I’d finished reading the book. Now, I’m not quite sure I could handle reading anymore of her work so soon after The Bell Jar.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-4.png As for the title, I have never a felt a more befitting one for a novel before. screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-4.png

I’m still at a loss for ways to describe the novel. The best way to summarise it would be to pick a question from the blurb itself: ‘what is reality, and how can it be confronted?’

At this point, all I can say is – read it.

 

On a brighter note, I hope you enjoy my first successfully transported but poorly made gif. 

I don’t think there’s such a thing as light-hearted reading anymore, if you know of any – do suggest some in the comments. Thank you guys.

 

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To contact me regarding a collaboration, or to simply get in touch – drop me an email at: rimsharasul8@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Feminism & The Modern Muslim Woman

Feminism & The Modern Muslim woman

I could write about this very topic every day for the next year and it still would not be enough.

Not all feminists think or act the same.

Well isn’t that news. It might surprise you to hear that it is my religion which has inspired me to want to speak up against the subordination of women. I know it’s hard to believe whilst living in a world painted with dominant western culture that a religion being tarnished as barbaric and a threat to modern civilisation was one of the first to recognise inequality and grant women with rights.

I’m not here to list a dozen ways that Islam liberated Muslim women, nor point out that Muslim women were emancipated from being the property of men fourteen hundred years before women in the west saw any light of such rights. All that I wish to make clear is that Islam, does not support the ill treatment of women.

The patriarchy which has governed most nations for centuries and manipulates laws, both theological and social, to their own advantage has allowed the largely prevailing misogynistic culture to impose certain rulings that feed hegemonic masculinity; by oppressing women.

Unfortunately, it is the misuse of religion which has created the notion that the Islamic faith is the enemy of the modern woman. However, it is also true that in certain ‘secular’ societies that claim to be ‘forward thinking’, women are still not treated as equals, in pay, under laws and by culture itself.

As a Muslim woman, it is devastating to see the hypocrisy practiced by the Muslim community and the wider non-Muslim society.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-1.png Are there problems with the feminist movement? Absolutely.

However as a young participating member of society (regardless of my gender), I believe that referring to a supporter of equal rights as a ‘feminazi’ is the modern day digressing of human rights as a whole.

Why? Well, the movement itself holds the weight of the struggles and sacrifices made by women (and men) from whenever you believe feminism arose, up to present day. By calling someone a ‘feminazi’, you are undermining an entire era of change. Not only is the term degrading to feminism, I take it as multiple steps back for society. Whether you call yourself a feminist or a humanist is besides the point.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-4.pngDo I see flaws in the feminist movement? Yes. No movement is perfect and most are prone to criticism, particularly one that is represented by people who are seen as ‘minorities’ or ‘inferior’. Insulting a struggle which was (and still is for many) an identity for equality and an advocate for awareness of inequality – is, for me, and should be for any living breathing member of the 21st century, is a ludicrous call to pull.

For me, the fact that some (yes, not all) feminists believe that most Muslim women are oppressed by their religion is a problem. Women, muslim women that are living under misogynist regimes ARE oppressed, yet little, or dare I say it NOTHING is being done to help them.

screenshot_2016-09-19-12-23-35-3.pngWe ought to see more coverage on sexual harassment, on FGM, on child marriages and the daily tenacity that women and girls go through – as well as attempts to help.

Yet all that is ever highlighted, all that I do see mainstream media debating on – is whether a veiled women is free, ‘oppressed’, or harbouring terrorists.

Come on.

A muslim woman does not need to lift her veil to prove that she is not oppressed. The fact that muslim women are forced to prove on a regular basis that they are not oppressed, to me – is real oppression.

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Of course, this claim would be unfair if I didn’t point out the fact that I am speaking from an advantaged point of view. I do recognise that not all women are born under the same circumstances or under the same situation as me. Which is why I believe that our efforts need to be put to effective use, we should stop analysing a free walking Muslim woman, and use our privileges to create aid to those that DO need it. 

| do keep in mind, that me talking about Islam, does not in any way undermine or insinuate disrespect towards any other faith. Comments suggesting things of such a nature will be dismissed. Bigots will not be entertained. |

*you guessed it, this was a self-illustrated blogpost*

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To contact me regarding a collaboration, or to simply get in touch – drop me an email at: rimsharasul8@gmail.com