It’s not new to find women from the fashion and entertainment industry subjected to unsolicited advances. It is however, relatively new to have them speak out, clap back and call out their harassers and those making these advances.
Earlier this week, model and Mango Pakistan’s first official spokesperson, Zara Peerzada took to Instagram to call out one such page. She uploaded screenshots of messages she received from a particular account where the person who contacted her offered her to work with their agency, for wrong means.
In an exclusive conversation with Edition, Zara spoke about the common misconception that a successful model’s career is based on these ‘offers’.
“I understand it’s not a new or unique experience but the problem is not just the messages. The messages are part of a larger national misconception that all women in entertainment are there to be solicited and provide alternative services. That is a gross oversight of our female talent and dedication. It also feeds into the national narrative that creative and art fields in Pakistan are not for ‘good girls’ from ‘good families’. It’s a huge disservice. There are so many women out there with so much potential who are not ‘allowed’ to engage with this industry, which has the potential to change lives. It changed mine,” Zara stated.
We asked the model what made her call out these messages now.
“What irritates me most is that these messages double every time I’m traveling. That really infuriates me. Women who can travel must be doing it because a man is paying them to— I find that particular assumption very offensive. So I tend to lash out at these messages when I’m traveling,” Zara informed us.
As for why this misconception exists, Zara opined: “I think it’s a common misconception because that’s what we as a community have created. We as a nation view art and expression as something inappropriate and so everything relating to it must be inappropriate. People have no idea how much effort and dedication it takes to be in this industry, and it’s unfortunate that the response to success in this field for women is that they must have earned it some other way. It’s a reductive way of thinking. It is assuming women are only objects and not capable of much more… Art has the power to change the world and change lives and we don’t acknowledge or respect that as a nation.”
According to Zara, this misconception can only be changed with the help of education.
“Creative learning and the integration of art in education is essential in Pakistan right now. Not only to develop artists but to develop thought and some humanity that we seem to have lost. It’s about creating a more conscentious community and student body. Secondly the government has to support entertainment. Our actors and directors have now been entering the global market and the global stage and our own government needs to lend support to it – not only when it’s being praised.
Once expression and art is valued in schools as part of a curriculum and actual skill-set, the national mindset will begin to view it differently. For example, IEI Pakistan is doing exemplary work with their volunteer programs for remote areas in Pakistan. I will hopefully be doing one with them, this summer.”