7 October 2017

a long blog post about my favorite woc artists

There are a few factors that make this online world feel more like home, one of them is being able to connect with my fellow artists and creators. I sometimes wonder how we've grown from being a minority to a niche in just a couple of years. When I started using a blogging website (which is now dead) back in 2011, I thought there were no other Pakistanis on the web. But we're growing, day by day, each post at a time. I came across wonderful women who never fail to inspire me. I still remember I was shit scared to upload a picture of myself in hijab or dupatta, in case I might be targeted for being too Muslim. And now, I call myself a "Muslim artist" for a living now. 

What motivates me more than anything to be myself on the internet is the presence of my absolute favorite artists, mostly women of color. The girl who inspired me to come out of my shell and be a proud Muslim fashionista is Hoda Katebi, a Muslim-Iranian fashion blogger from Chicago. I am able to write about the incomprehensible tragedies of my everyday life because Warsan Shire and her work exist. And recently, when I saw two of my other favorites under attack for their work, I was truly mad.

Dina Tokio is one of the women I truly admire. I came across her on youtube about two years ago when my twin and I were binge watching Muslimah youtubers. It was a q/a video of her with her husband and the fact that she married a Pakistani man was so amusing that we subscribed to her channel (also followed on instagram, facebook & twitter) It took me two more months to be completely obsessed with everything about her personality. I truly respect her ways and how raw and original she is on her social media. Sometimes I see her being hated for wearing her turban hijab the way she wears it and it saddens me that how intolerant others are towards online creators, especially when the abusers are other Muslims. Another woman's hijab is not your problem, brothers and sisters, prepare for your own jannah (or jahannam).

Last night I realized that Dina Tokio was being abused for releasing her new t-shirt line because one of her tees said "Extremist".
Here's a story: I once wore a shirt (it was sent by a company to promote their line) that said "psycho" and uploaded it on my instagram and BOOM! it blew up. I started getting comments and messages that I was being an ablest and I should delete the picture. The problem was that I couldn't do that, I had made a contract to a company that I was to keep that picture up because I was also keeping the shirt. That was ugly. It was a sensitive topic and I didn't want to hurt anyone but I did, unintentionally, and it killed me. It was a goddamn mistake. Dina made a similar mistake. If I wasn't a psycho, I shouldn't be wearing a shirt that said so. If Dina isn't an extremist, she SHOULDN'T be wearing or promoting or designing shirts that say so. Extremist is a dangerous word, not just for Muslims but for people from other religions as well. People who are actually extremists are ruining countries and lives. And Muslims in most countries, especially in USA & UK, cannot afford to be associated with this word these days. It might cost them their lives. \

I still respect and love Dina the same, I don't mind if she made a controversial shirt because I've been through the whole thing by myself. If you're trying to bring her down because of a mistake, it’s foolish. Everyone makes mistakes and internet is cruel enough for us. Try to be tolerant of others and if you're an artist of color yourself, you should be more supportive.

The other one is Rupi Kaur. My twin and I love her work and we spent hours in two cities to find and buy her book. I don't agree with some of her pieces but I definitely am super proud of how far she has come. She has not only made poetry accessible for people who never bothered to understand it before but she is also a hope for other writers, especially for South Asian creators. You can't ~explain~ poetry to someone, it means different things to everybody. To me, it's a fancy arrangement of rhythmic words and I like poetry that slices through my skin and gets to my veins. And I like poetry that punches me in my stomach. Some of her poems made me feel that way and I'll forever love her for that.

She's been a target of online hate for quite a long time now because her work doesn't agree with the normal poetry writing style. You can open twitter and search her name and you'll see how salty some of the users are when it comes to Rupi's work. I have a big problem with it because my own sister (who writes poetry herself) was a target of bullies on twitter just because she wrote her poem on a tiled wall and some people didn’t like that fact, mainly because it looked like a "bathroom wall". 

Truth be told, I'm in awe of Rupi because she found a style and stuck with it even after all the hate and negativity she had to go through. It worked for her, the arrangements of words and placement of her illustrations with them, and she has made a shit ton of money out of her work. It's utterly impressive and should be motivating other writers to come out and present what their true work style is like even if they fear it might not be admired much by others. If Rupi is helping to make poetry a mainstream thing, I think academics should be glad because this generation needs more of it.

What do you think of Dina Tokio & Rupi Kaur drama? Would love to know your opinions as well!


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21 August 2017

leaving the teenage years

Summer of 2017 will forever be the year my friends left for my dream art school and I brought a zayn malik cut out to my house. I also turned 20, officially spent 7300 plus days on earth with my twin sister Noor. She once promised me that she'll be a published poetess before she left her teenage years and she did, her book Yesterday I Was The Moon sold more copies in 3 days than we imagined and also managed to be in top 50 books by women on Amazon in its first week. It all happened right before our birthday week. 20th arrived with all its glory.

I wanted to be a published something too before I turned 20, or probably just wanted to do anything of importance before I was to leave my teenager self behind. Mainly to take something of value out of my young & foolish self. I am still young and equally foolish but the charm of teenage years makes you want to believe that this is the only part of being young that will never return in all its glory, you'll be young in coming years but not this kind of young. Completely out of your mind young. People won't forgive you like they'll forgive you at that time. 

Teenage years were important and I wanted to steal as much from them as I could and I think I actually did. When I was eighteen, I cut all of my hair in a self-proclaimed & shapeless pixie cut that grew into the ugliest bob my family had ever seen. I cut them again a few months before I turned 19, I knew I'll be forgiven for killing them. My amma made me promise that I won't murder them again, together we found out it was a sin, I haven't taken a scissor near my hair since then and I'll never again. 

Right before my birthday, my comic, Musings for a Muslim Hipster, was published in the UK for subscription box called ShortBox, run by an amazing woman named Zainab. Whenever I come across another Muslim woman in this creative field of artists and creators, it feels safe to be here, to know that I'm not alone. May Allah bless her for all her patience and hard work. 

A post shared by Karl (Dot) Dotter (@k4rl) on
Yesterday someone tagged me in this picture on Instagram, my work in printed form has started finding other homes.

These are some pictures from our birthday. We got a Matty Healy cake, it was supposed to be a Zayn x Matty cake but no printer in my area would print Zayn's pictures. They all told me the file I was asking to print was invalid and we didn't have time to make another file. Deep down I knew that I was done with my share of printed Zayn for at least now, keeping in mind that I own a 5'7 cut out of him.

I'm sure 20s are going to bring greater challenges and bigger opportunities along. My teenage-self has achieved so much that it seems pretty difficult to beat her but, to my own relief, I'm ready.


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29 July 2017

Blippo Kawaii Box (a review + a giveaway)

I found the cutest stuff in my mail a few days ago, sent by Blippo (a company dedicated to bringing y'all the cutest stuff ever) It's a surprise kawaii mixed bag and it had 15 random cute items. The coolest thing is that it's not a subscription based, like their Kawaii box, just buy one when you like.

My bag had lots of coin pouches, a stuffed toy, a mirror with a comb (omg), kawaii glasses I once would kill for back in school, jewelry, key chains, stickers and even a spray bottle (gonna keep rose water in it later)

 I LOVED collecting these as a kid and it's probably one of my favorites from the bag. Comb & mirror, never not useful for a girl.

I once made my mother buy me these back in high school. EVERYONE WAS WEARING THESE GLASSES IN 2011!!!! Such a wonderful feeling to have them back years later.

Y'all remember Pikachu? It was my fave Pokemon and now I have a Pikachu head for keeping coins or other small stuff in it. Isn't this lovely?
The items in this bag are worth about 50$ but y'all can get the bag for 16.90$ from Blippo's website if you want.

It's such a cute little bag, if you 're into kawaii stuff, get one asap!!!!!!!!

Win a box for yourself! Open worldwide.


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15 June 2017

being a mipster & other things

There are 2 top questions in my head at the moment. One is about me being a mipster and what it actually means to me. The other one is about what did I learn this Ramadan.

A few nights ago I was Facetiming a girl from Belgium. She wanted to interview me about being a mipster and what's it like to be one? If it's a community? Or if it's just a term. And I was like SHIT I NEVER REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT IT SERIOUSLY TO GET ALL THE FACTS RIGHT. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME, FIRST OF ALL!??!

I've been associating myself with this term for some time now and people on the internet knows me as one. Mipsterz, is an online community for Muslim Hipsters and I came across it about 2 years ago but was afraid to call myself one. I've been dressing modestly all my life and it took me years to finally get out on the internet wearing my shalwar kameez and dupatta (scarf) and be creative about it. 

To me, being a mipster is an idea that you can be the cool kid and keep your religion and culture close as well. And there's nothing I wouldn't do to keep a balance between my religion and things my heart want. Being a mipster is another way of keeping my balance. And this term makes it easier to take internet aesthetic and mix it with my tradition. It's my online identity and I'm so damn proud of it.

 The second one: Ramadan. I love how this month brings all the good things close to me and makes my heart soft. I've been learning the power of forgiving these days.  The darkest parts of my brain are getting some fresh light and it's really helpful to get over some bitter past experiences. It's a nice nice nice thing to let go of bad bad bad stuff.

And I took 50% of these pictures with my baby tripod today and the others were taken by Noor. God bless twin sisters, WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT MINE.

How's your Ramadan going?


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1 June 2017

Karachi, I'm not afraid

Last month I got an email from a girl who lives in Dubai and got a marriage proposal from a guy in Karachi. She asked me about Karachi. How things work here? Where do the Karachiites go for shopping/to have fun? Is it safe? Is it safe? Is it safe? And I realised I'd have to explain about my home. If my home is safe. If I'm scared of it. If I'm scared of what roams on the streets. If I'm scared I might get hurt. I know this city has blood on the streets and it can be cruel. But I'm not afraid of Karachi. Even though I've moved to a ghost city Thatta, Karachi will always be "the home".

I was born here. I grew up here. My favourite people are buried here. I know all the roads, from Shahrah e Faisal to Sadar & from Sohrab Goth to University road. It feels like no matter what happens, I'll find my way back to where I want to go in this city. It doesn't hurt me even if it's mean sometimes. I understand what goes inside the city. I've been a part of it's sadness. The only politician I ever cared about was murdered here. I watched her dead body being carried away on tv, about 25 minutes away from the crime scene. 

I know its dirty traffic, too many cars with shouting men. I know its street food, the lemonade stalls, the gol gappay & aloo samosas I'm emotionally attached with. I know the areas I'm not supposed to go alone. I know where to go to find the best clothes and the best fruit and the best meat. I still remember the night of Karachi Eat earlier this year when it felt like half of the city was out to celebrate the night of food, it was bright and everyone was happy. This is how I remember Karachi, brightly lit on a dark night. Not as breaking news on other people's tv channels or a sinking economy. 

We know each other, Karachi & I, by heart. Maybe it knows me as the little girl who was born on the northern side of Karachi on a busy August day when half of the country was still wrapped in Pakistani flags for independence day celebrations. Or as the girl who went to "I'm Karachi" campaign booth to help in making Karachi better. But I remember Karachi as my first home. There's a famous poetry verse in Urdu, "Pahunchi waheen pe khak jahan ka khameer tha" (translation: the dust returned to where it rose from) I keep going back to Karachi and I hope it will also be the last home for my bones one day. 


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