Issue 2: Featuring Baemisaal
Every month, The Mindful Missy platform will feature an inspirational cover story about real life heroes sharing their journeys. Each cover star will be featured without any retouching in an effort to promote body positivity and self-love. By featuring real people who share their struggles and bare their vulnerabilities we hope to start a meaningful discussion and a powerful movement towards a more accepting, inclusive and compassionate community.
Baemisaal’s Instagram first caught my attention for its quirky, bright illustrations that warranted a quick ‘follow’. This was a few years ago and since then she’s used it as a platform to share her wide range of interests including writing, illustrating and most importantly, to share raw and real stories of her everyday highs and lows. Her candid discussions with anyone who opened up to her have garnered her a loyal fan following. When the team at The Mindful Missy was brainstorming about people they knew would have an inspirational story to share, she was one the first few who came to mind.
She describes herself as an artist living life through her plus sized dtysfunctionalality but I think she’s so much more than that. Someone who struggled with depression, channeled it into something she loved (in her case art) and then found a way to help others like her who were suffering in silence – Baemisaal is a fighter and a role model. Her interview made me cry at times for her impressive ability to bare her soul and it made me laugh for her unparalleled wit. It truly was a pleasure to sit across her and speak to her about the Bihamaal behind Baemisaal, the name she was given at birth.
I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone and no one could relate to me and I also wanted to show my work and I guess that’s why I took to social media.
She begins telling me. While Baemisaal was struggling with issues in her own life, she felt that she saw too many people online being fake, with little to no representation about how one can be down sometimes, how your body image affects you or how what society says takes a toll. She realized that she may even help herself by putting up a face on Instagram and help others by sending out positivity through her platform.
The response is what shocked me because so many people confided in me. It made me realize that even though you have people around you in real life who genuinely care, it’s hard to talk to them. When all of this got too much I took a break from Instagram but I knew I needed it because people had given me their stories.
The flipside of her social media persona and following eventually came to the fore. Baemisaal was so deeply invested in her followers’ stories that she realised she was putting her own issues on the back burner.
There have been times where I’ve made videos telling people to be kind to each other and that I’m here to talk to them and then I put down my phone and break down. I’m crying for hours and I don’t know why. That gets hard because your family and friends aren’t enough. Then you yourself aren’t enough, and you can’t see the good things in your life. You don’t see what you’ve achieved you just see a dark hole.
She feels, rightfully, that people sometimes forget the impact of their words whether it is negative or positive.
Compliments mean a lot – not just shallow things but when someone recognizes another person’s struggles and talks to them about it. My followers aren’t following me for the way I dress or an image – they’re doing it because they connect with who I am and that’s what is real to me.
Baemisaal has struggled with depression for as long as she can remember. She describes it as a sinking hole. She says,
It’s like you can’t breathe and the walls are caving in on you. It’s like an actual daemon that comes to life and sucks the life out of you.
She feels that to overcome that feeling you have to accept the darkness within, embrace it and let it pass through you. After one of her worst days she made the decision to start her social media platform so she could help others struggling with the same issues.
On the day of the interview, she came wearing a t-shirt from her own line of Baemisaal merchandise along with a denim jacket, bright sunnies and hair that was dyed blonde at the ends. She talked about how important dressing up was to her and also confessed to having tried many different hair styles growing up including a mohawk and rainbow hair. “Being different is not something I chose to be. That’s what I had to tell myself. I’ve tried to be normal and dress a certain way or act a certain way and it’s just not me. As a child youre told to not do certain things – that you’re too loud, too opinionated but I was always a rebel so I wouldn’t do what I was told to.” This brought her to the realization that there were always signs that she was neither here nor there on the gender binary. “I enjoy being a complete girly girl and then I enjoy things traditionally associated to men as well. Growing up it didn’t make sense to me how there’s a pressure to conform and maybe it’s because I have a single mother who’s always taken the other role of a father as well.” When the term gender queer hit her she realized that there are other people like her. “I just don’t like labels and so I don’t classify myself a certain way. I don’t call myself a writer, illustrator or a photographer – I just go with artist. Similarly, I just don’t see the point of defining gender.” She adds, “I haven’t suffered the brunt of it but it’s been pretty liberating in my own bubble so I’ve never put it out there for the world to shred and I hope they never do.”
Although she’s developed a thick skin over the years, she wishes that people would be more careful with their words because they really can make or break a person.
I hope Baemisaal continues to be like the alchemist that she is, turning her sorrow into gold for herself and for others.
Interview and styling: Mehek Saeed | Photography and videography: Areesh Zubair | Label: Sassy