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Hey hey!

Long time no see ūüėČ

So its been a short while since the L’Oreal True Match campaign went live. It’s one of those days where I’ve been reflecting on the experience so I figured I might as well write up some thoughts.

If you haven’t already seen the ad, here it is:

Ok, so let’s rewind a little.

Last year, when being interviewed for a documentary, I was asked, “what is your biggest goal in the beauty¬†industry?”. At the time, I hesitated to voice what my goal was. I mean, it’s just so¬†out there, and just so unlikely to happen, so why risk the shame of sharing this goal with the world?

Thankfully, at the time, I had recently begun to make changes in how I lived in this world. One of those changes was to become braver. And one of the things I’ve come to realise is that bravery comes with vulnerability. So, I answered the question without holding back:

“I want to be in a major, mainstream beauty campaign. I want to be in ads, in billboards – I want the world to see that a woman in a headscarf is not defined by it, nor restrained by the stereotypes imposed by culture and society.”.

That was that. Regardless of whether my wish would come true – I mean, no hijabi girl had ever been in a mainstream beauty campaign in the UK – it still felt amazing to just put it out there.

A year later, I was invited by¬†L’Oreal to be¬†in their True Match campaign. You can just imagine how over the moon¬†I was when I got the call. Total OMG moment. The ad was for their True Match foundation, now available in¬†23 shades – a brilliant shade range, considering it’s a high street brand. So the idea behind the campaign was to celebrate diversity in skin colour. And it would be aired nationwide! Finally, the beauty industry is realising that diversity is strength.

Forget the fact that¬†I would be in a major campaign, this was a major campaign with Cheryl in it. The Cheryl. When I was shown the moodboard and they confirmed¬†that yes, that was indeed Cheryl’s face, I unabashedly fangirled.

A few months before filming of the ad, I had a preliminary meeting with the L’Oreal team. Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was told that it would be something to do with “my¬†story”… I mean, that could mean anything, right? All sorts of questions were whizzing around in my head. What am I allowed to mention? What do I emphasise? Can I talk about what really matters to me?

So there I was, sat at a table with 4 L’Oreal ladies, one taking notes, two asking questions, and another observing.

“So can I talk about the time I had acne?”

Yes, they said.

“Can I mention I’m a mum? How motherhood changed me?”

Yes, they said.

“Can I say that self worth has to come from within and that this tied to self care?”

Yes, they said. “Amena, you can talk about anything. We want to know about you.”

They were just so open.¬†Like, seriously, you guys, it’s rare I get to work with such open minded, friendly and supportive people. We were chatting away about empowerment, self esteem, life changes, how we evolve as women… I felt so comfortable. Of course, not all of it made it in to the final ad, but it felt so good to be able to express myself in a wider context. This was my piece:

I’m so proud of this campaign and so happy with the final ad. I went in on the filming day feeling really¬†nervous but I was adamant on just being myself and not letting my nerves get in the way.

A few minutes into filming, I felt so relaxed and that definitely comes across in what they captured. Plus, after we had finished filming, some of the camera guys came up to me and¬†said they enjoyed listening to my answers and that they liked hearing what I had to say. It’s nice when people you know are supportive, but when strangers come and give positive feedback, you know you were really true to yourself (excuse the pun haha).

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The scarf I wore on the ad was the Nude Glam Hoojab, from Pearl-Daisy.

Since the campaign went live, I’ve had an overwhelming amount of support and positive feedback. I mean, a really overwhelming amount. Friends of friends, friends of relatives, friends of friends of friends, followers across social media… even people I had no idea would take the time to reach out to me have passed on their well wishes and congrats.

I’m left even more focussed on my ambitions and my goals… because, as it turns out, dreams really do come true :)

Much love,

Amena

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