The idea for starting AZEEMA came from a personal and passionate place, I felt there weren’t any publications that specifically catered for and celebrated Women from the Middle East/North Africa and Women of Colour. I’m Sudanese/English with Islamic background from my Sudanese side, so making something that was inclusive of Women of Colour and knowledgeable of Islamic faith, African and Arab culture was really important to me.
I had visions of creating something that challenged current stereotypes and representations, something that embraced and celebrated culture. Ethnicity and culture is something that should be intertwined, shared and celebrated together, not feared or avoided. Current news outlets project mostly fearful and negative representations of the Middle East/North Africa and I feel these women and their voices aren’t properly represented in fashion. I wanted AZEEMA to celebrate Women of Colour, heritage, beauty and strength.
At the moment there seems to be a shift in attitudes, girls are triumphing their Colour and coming together with other like-minded women to create, protest, organise and help one another. We live in a society flooded with images of a certain “standard of beauty.” Whether it’s lighter skin or straighter hair, overall the standard sends a clear and persistent message of what is perceived by society to be the most important view of beauty/fashion. I wanted to make something that also challenged those ideals.
AZEEMA magazine is made especially for girls with the courage to rebel, the aim is to empower, not to offend.