Breaking Barriers: An Interview with Miss Grand Pakistan on Balancing Tradition and Modernity in Fashion Industry
Aneesa Sheikh is a name that has become synonymous with beauty and grace in Pakistan's fashion industry. As the reigning Miss Grand Pakistan, Aneesa has captured the hearts of people across the country and beyond with her poise, intelligence, and captivating personality.
But there is much more to her than just her stunning looks. Aneesa is a thoughtful and insightful young woman, who is deeply committed to promoting her country's rich culture and traditions while embracing modern fashion trends. In this interview, we get a glimpse into her world as she shares her thoughts on beauty, fashion, and the evolving role of women in Pakistan.
What inspired you to participate in the Miss Grand Pakistan beauty pageant?
What inspired me to participate in the Miss Grand Pakistan beauty pageant was the opportunity to raise awareness for my non-profit organization, Music4 M.I.R.A.C.L.E. I believe that music has the power to heal and can make a positive impact in medical, educational, and flood-affected communities throughout Pakistan.
In addition, I wanted to use the platform to empower women who were afraid to step outside societal confines due to the fear of stigma. As Miss Grand Pakistan, my goal was to represent my country and show the world that Pakistan was more than just the headlines of violence and radical religion often portrayed in the news. I believed that Islam meant peace, and it was our duty to promote unity and love among all people.
What are some of the challenges you faced during the pageant, and how did you overcome them?
The pageant was no easy task, especially as I represented Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country. I received both positive and negative opinions, but the harsh comments were challenging to deal with.
However, this experience was a pivotal moment for me as a young woman. I realized that I would never fully conform to societal norms or expectations, and that's okay. By being unapologetically myself, I gained the respect of many and became a catalyst for change for those who are afraid to pursue their passions.
Overcoming these challenges has made me even more determined to continue on my path and make a difference in the world.
What is your definition of beauty, and how do you strive to embody that definition?
Beauty, to me, encompasses more than just physical appearances. It includes intelligence, kindness, and inner strength. I believe that looks fade over time, but a person's character and accomplishments leave a lasting impact. My father instilled in me the belief that "charm strikes the sight, but merit wins the soul," and I strive to live by that philosophy.
To maintain my physical and mental health, I prioritize self-care. This includes eating well, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness. I also value continuous learning and exposing myself to new experiences. By immersing myself in diverse communities and learning from various perspectives, I aim to broaden my understanding of the world and become a more empathetic and informed individual. Ultimately, my goal is to use my talents and passions to make a positive impact on society and inspire others to do the same. This, to me, is the essence of beauty.
What do you think sets Pakistani fashion and beauty trends apart from those in other parts of the world?
Pakistani fashion and beauty are characterized by vibrant colors and intricate embroidery, while still maintaining modesty. Compared to other parts of the world, Pakistani fashion stands out with its use of embellishments, extravagant jewelry, and bold colors, all while remaining modest and covering.
How do you stay grounded and focused amidst all the attention and scrutiny that comes with being a beauty pageant titleholder?
Growing up, I never fully fit into one specific community. I learned from a young age that I will never have the most friends or be liked by everyone, and that is fine. I focus on the bigger picture of why I did the beauty pageant, in fact, why I do anything. I have learned the hard way that I need to be choosy about who I give my time and attention to and keep my thoughts and plans to myself and within a very small and trusted circle of people who love and support each other. I didn't always do this, and as I have become more active on social media and in public, I have found that it is extremely important not to read too much into the comments and opinions of others.
What advice do you have for young women who aspire to follow in your footsteps and pursue a career in the fashion and beauty industry?
Do it! At the end of the day, you have to make yourself happy and live without regrets. It is only yourself who you can count and depend on forever, so make yourself happy. If doing something that is not necessarily following the typical footsteps in your family, community, and culture hinders progression for all young women wanting to follow a career in this industry, be the catalyst for evolution for women dreaming of stepping outside of these barriers.
How do you balance the traditional values of Pakistani culture with modern fashion and beauty trends?
Balancing traditional values of Pakistani culture with modern fashion and beauty trends can be a delicate act, but it is possible to integrate both into one's personal style. It's important to remember that fashion and beauty trends are constantly evolving, but cultural values and traditions are deeply rooted and should not be compromised.
One way I personally integrate Pakistani culture into my fashion is by pairing traditional jewelry pieces with modern clothing and adding Pakistani embellishments to these clothing items. Overall, I have had great success with this hybrid style of Western fashion with Pakistani elements.
Can you share your favorite fashion and beauty tips for women in Pakistan?
I absolutely love a bronzed makeup look! For clear skin, ditch the liquid foundation and use pressed powder and concealer. Your skin will love you after a few weeks. Always apply sunscreen, even if it is raining outside, and use retinol at night three times a week. I also recommend taking fish oil and zinc supplements for overall skin health.
What are some common misconceptions about beauty pageants, and how would you address them?
A common misconception about beauty pageants is that they only promote physical beauty. While physical beauty is a component of the competition, it is not the only criterion for winning. Beauty pageants also place emphasis on intelligence, talent, and community involvement.
Competing internationally requires strategy, thought, and a proactive mindset. It takes an educated and skillful young lady to complete such a task. Another misconception is that beauty pageants are only for a certain type of woman. Beauty pageants are open to women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Many pageants have recently become more inclusive, welcoming contestants from diverse backgrounds and with a range of physical abilities.
Personally, people often ask me if I wear contacts or what physical surgeries I have had recently, which is not the case. I am 20 years old without any surgeries or physical enhancements. Being beautiful means taking care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle, which can often result in physical improvements naturally.
Can you tell us about a particularly meaningful or memorable moment from your time as Miss Grand Pakistan?
One particularly meaningful moment was hearing all the fans in the auditorium scream “Pakistan” after the preliminaries!
How do you envision the future of the fashion and beauty industry in Pakistan?
I feel that Pakistan is becoming more inclusive of global fashion trends while still preserving its cultural identity through fashion and beauty. I see it evolving even further by incorporating bigger companies and brands into their stores and advertisements to grow on a global basis and introduce the rest of the world to its rich culture.