These three videos make up a project called “Follow for more soft islam”, that I began in 2016.
My friend Shasha and I set out together to make this video portrait, which tells a story about her and about some wider issues that affect us both. The working title for the piece was ‘joy’ as we wanted the experience of making it to be a positive reaction to the issues examined by the piece.
About the title “Follow for more soft Islam”
The title “follow for more soft Islam” – which is the thing I get asked the most about – came about from noticing a couple of trends online. For example, articles about how instagram filters have a whitening effect. I was also on tumblr at the time and noticed a trend of captioning images with “follow for more pale posts” or “follow for more rosy posts” – these images were also using the same whitening/brightening kind of filters and creating aesthetic blogs centred around a dreamy, pale, floaty look. Even the history of taking images has a part to play.
For people like my friend, there is an overwhelming amount of sources saying that paler, brighter things are beautiful. In opposition to this, we’ve created this new ‘soft Islam’ look by combining traditional islamic art, my friend’s Indian cultural garments and Japanese pastel fashion. These three themes were chosen as they are three large players in her life, and we wanted to bring them all into balance together and leave her feeling empowered by the combination.
In both Indian popular culture and Japanese fashion there is also a preference for lighter skin – some of my friends have been told they shouldn’t wear J-fashion because it doesn’t ‘suit’ dark skinned girls – so we wanted to create some visibility of a darker skin tone too.
The square video format of the piece
We both believe social media is very powerful in showing images of underrepresented people – so we chose the square video format as it’s more popular and shareable online. The aim of the piece is representation and visibility so if you do love to see it please do share it. It’s available on twitter, facebook and instagram.
Behind the scenes
The looks were created by Shasha, with a bit of help from me in hair styling. I painted the backgrounds in pastel and glitter using images of traditional Islamic art. The paintings took about a week to produce and the glitter can still be found in my bedroom two years later.
P.S The drum loops are royalty free from looperman.com