Despite an evolving change in perception, hence the new mantra that ‘women are beautiful regardless of their shape, size and skin tone’, the skinny female body-type is what we largely get to see in the media industry today. Comedian and actress Faiza Saleem happens to be one of the few who are smashing that stereotype with their exceptional talent!
The lawyer has evolved to become the first woman of her generation to pursue standup comedy in Pakistan. She made us laugh till our tummies were in a knot in film Parchi and gives us daily doses of giggles, with a side of insightful moral messages, through her viral social media videos.
Her celebrity-roasting series, ‘Doodhpatti With Daadi’ is also a flawless representation of how being humorous does not mean one has to be crass; Faiza knows exactly when to draw to line with her comical work.
Edition got through to Faiza to speak about her haters, the representation of women in comedy, generic body-image standards, and how she derives the strength to keep following her dreams!
Edition: Female media personalities in Pakistan receive regular hate for every and any reason; but more specifically for their body image. How do you respond to hate and safeguard yourself from negative vibes?
Faiza Saleem: Publicly, sometimes I respond to haters to give them a shut up call, but mostly I ignore them or ban them from my page. In private, I think about what would happen to them if they said that to me to my face and have a good laugh about it. I don’t spare haters in real life.
Edition: Women are unfortunately the punch-line of jokes rather than the ones stirring up humour; why did you decide to change that norm?
Faiza Saleem: That’s exactly why. I loved doing comedy and performing for an audience. Plus I’m educated and try to look at our social issues from several aspects. I’m not perfect but I try to work on my mistakes. I felt comedy, the world over, has been male dominated and that’s not fair. We need to tell our stories, our way.
Edition: Young girls aspiring to enter the media industry can be hesitant that they do not ‘fit’ the physical appearance criteria of being on-screen; what message would you like to give such girls?
Faiza Saleem: Sure it’s important to be healthy. But if you do look a certain way, don’t let it become a hurdle in your journey. Lose the weight if it’s possible for you to do so. Work on your body, mind and soul. However, in the meanwhile don’t let your dreams come to a halt, no matter what.
Edition: A fair amount of your comical videos have serious topics peeping out aiming to give audiences a message; what responsibility do you think media personalities have towards bettering society?
Faiza Saleem: A lot of responsibility. I realize that many people look up to us and expect us to know the right thing to do. We can’t be reckless with that kind of respect. However, people learn some things with time too. Every day I learn new things and try to evolve as a person. So people should also cut us some slack and not blindly follow everything a public figure says or does.
Edition: How do you derive the strength to smash stereotypes and stay firm footed on following your dreams?
Faiza Saleem: From within and from certain people around me, like my mom and my best friends, but mostly it has to come from my own faith in myself. It’s not like I don’t have bad days, I feel frustrated so often and then I get stressed. But I quickly pick myself up every time. I tell myself ‘Faiza you’re the coolest person I know and no matter what happens you’ll make it. And you’ve seen enough to know that you WILL crumble and fall. But then you’ll rise again.’ That makes me happy.
Edition: Hypothetically, if you could have a chance to speak to Moin Akhtar sahab what would you say to him and what advice would you seek?
Faiza Saleem: Oh my God. MOIN AKHTAR SAHAB. I’d tell him I love him and that I wish I could learn how to be half as classy as he was with his comedy! I’d also like to ask him how he dealt with the pressure of being “the funny one” all the time. It’s like people expect you to be a bundle of joy 24/7 even when you’re going through a tough time. Please! Just because someone has chosen comedy as a career, doesn’t mean they’ll tell you great jokes the first time they meet you!