Ami Schaheera: "Please don’t let chivalry die."
In conjunction with our June Women's Issue, we've lined up a few Q&As with women in Malaysia who you might not have heard of, but who are making their mark. One of our contributors for our June Issue (for the article "50 Things Women Want Men To Know") was fashion aficionado Ami Schaheera. She was incredibly helpful, but we also got to know more about her amazing story - her passion for fashion, her battle with cancer, and how she has managed to stay positive through her rehab. Here's our short interview with her:
ESQUIRE: When did you first became passionate about fashion?
AMI SCHAHEERA: I think I have always been interested in fashion since I was little, as cliche as it may sound. But what kickstarted my passion for it was when my good friends and I created "The Shoplifters" over our mutual love for shopping, having extra cash and vintage stuff. Who knew it made me discover the other side of me, which I must say developed confidence and verve about myself. I dress up more and it made me feel good. And I share that feel-good feeling in my blog and I’m glad there are people who like them.
ESQ: You’ve said that you became passionate about fashion because you believe everyone has a unique style and should not conform just to trends.
AS: Really? Did I say that? (laughs) It’s somewhat true, no? Simply because everyone has their own personality and we are not created to be the same. Even identical twins dress differently, albeit looking the same, for example Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Personality influences style, we see different people and do different thing almost every day. All those things gives an impact on our personality, on how we handle our emotions and reactions. Besides having trends as part of fashion entertainment and a guide, I believe everyone should not be a victim of it. We should make the trend suitable to our personal taste and style.
ESQ: You were diagnosed with leukemia in May 2010. What was your response when you first heard the diagnosis?
AS: I was shocked, scared and honestly overwhelmingly sad for my husband. We just got married for a month, moved in to our new apartment for two weeks and the big C happened. But when he was openly strong and at peace about it, I became strong for him. And I was ever more determined to fight the battle.
ESQ: You’re very open on Twitter about how your progress with your battle with cancer has been. How have you dealt with the ups and downs since?
AS: Previously in my first encounter of cancer and four cycles of chemotherapy, I only had my friends, the Shoplifters followers and small amounts of readers of my blog who were following me. I am really open on Twitter about the progress of my cancer as in the hospital, I have nothing much to do and telling my story in 140 characters is one way of me letting out some of the stress. I didn’t update my blog ever since I got the news, till I came back from the hospital and finished my four cycle chemo which was from May to November 2010. I have been trying to stay positive as much as I can, sometimes encouragement from strangers does help me out along the way. I do snap sometimes, and sometimes on Twitter itself. Which made me regret it anyways, that I let anger control me and let others see the bad side of myself. It’s embarrassing. Honestly, my husband has been the best supporter and motivator. Whenever he gives me a pep talk, I would either yawn - cos' he talk for hours! - or feel all better again.
ESQ: You’re known as the hijab-nista! How do you feel as others turn to you for the latest in hijab fashion?
AS: I dress for myself, not for the viewers or people who reads my blog. But sometimes I do feel the pressure of being labelled as "Hijab Fashionista" because hijab does not means you only have a piece of veil on your head. You have a responsibility to carry as a muslimah to dress appropriately no matter how trendy you are. I avoid leggings as pants at all cost, or anything that’s too tight for that matter. I cover up most parts of my body accordingly, even if I do wear a fitting shirt underneath, I usually will cover up with a loose long cardigan or blazer. I don’t show my neck even if I wear the turban style cos' it’s part of the aurat. I resort to boyfriend jeans, harem pants or tapered pants instead of skinny jeans. No matter how fashionable you are, if you are a Muslim you have that kind of responsibility.
ESQ: In Esquire’s June Women’s Issue, you and some friends give some fashion advice to guys. What are three general tips – not just fashion! – you would give to men?
AS: 1) Respect women, no matter who they are to you. Strangers or family.
2) Humour is positively charming. Just don’t overdo it.
3) Please don’t let chivalry die.
ESQ: Your motto in life?
AS: "Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human." - Tony Robbins
You can read more of Ami Schaheera's advice as part of The Shoplifters in our June Women's Issue, out in newsstands now. You can follow Ami on Twitter here.
My interview on Esquire Malaysia
The article was published yesterday and could not more honored than to be part of Esquire Malaysia, aside from contributing on their June issue. Finally got a chance to scan the article;
The article that me, Tina Zooey & Shuz Mordiffi contributed to Esquire June 2011 issue. It's part of 50 Things Women Want You To Know (but are afraid to tell you!). We listed things on Fashion issue. Hope these will help out you blokes out there ;)
Check out Esquire Malaysia guys and gals!