Three years ago, Taiba started her blog, and as she stated “I can only describe my life since then as a complete whirlwind of things I’ve only ever dreamed of.” She has covered Fashion Weeks across the globe, designed her own pieces, and worked alongside some of her idols. When she doesn’t have a camera in her hand, she’s studying. She is currently a senior in high school, which can be hard to balance alongside doing what she loves, but well, she’s “pushin’ through” Taiba says.
Above all else, writes Rawan Qabazard, she is passionate about having the freedom to create; living in her truth, and embracing those who have been able to do the same. Taiba’s thoughts are that everyone needs to exert creative expression in some way to stay sane, and fashion became her go-to creative outlet pretty early on in life. It has become a vital aspect of everything she puts out, whether it’s photography, or creative direction, or design. It is how she expresses and represents herself, it’s a part of her identity.
When and how did your blogging career start? What message do you want to convey?
I started my blog at the age of fourteen with a camera and a resilient need to explore new creative outlets. I feel that Arab youth, especially young Arab women, are looking for new ways to define themselves, outside of what we have been taught; what we have been told is right, the social constructs we have been conditioned to succumb to. What I have learnt and want to communicate through my work is that there is so much beauty in non-conformity, so if you’re feeling out of place or misunderstood, take that emotion and make it your superpower.
What are some of your favorite shoots that you have worked on whether as the photographer or creative director?
The majority of my work is self-portraiture, so I’m often behind and in front of the lens at the same time. I’ve found that there is an addictive power in being able to give myself visibility and manifest my own visions independently. However, some of my favorite projects have been collaborations, including the Nike Women “Believe in More” campaign I was featured in, this summer, alongside women from around the region. We were handpicked because we resembled the campaign’s message in every sense; in simply existing in our truth we are resilience and strength. Not only did shooting with Nike introduce me to a group of women who continue to inspire me endlessly, it also exposed me to my potential and influence as a creative presence in the region for the first time. Seeing the campaign all over my city, it was just this moment of “wow I’m really out here” that completely consumed me. When I was growing up, I yearned for a different identity because that’s all I saw being glorified in the media. Now being able to identify that as the lack of visibility, we as Arab women have, I am able to contribute towards deconstructing it. We all have a story to tell. Through my work I’m telling mine, in hopes a girl like me will listen and be inspired to tell her own.
How do you think the public is reacting to all emerging creatives?
Whether you recognize it or not, creative youth is responsible for driving culture and innovation, yet we’re generally misunderstood by society. I kind of like that though, making the statement that I seek validation from no one. I think the creative community has an underground aspect to it as well that shelters us from gaze of the public and societal stigmas. It’s kind of like if you know you know, and if you don’t, it’ll come around when the mainstream picks it up in a year our two. Confusion followed by imitation tends to be society’s cycle of consuming the work of creatives.
What were the difficulties you faced at the start of your journey, and how did you overcome that?
I started my blog when I was 14, and unfamiliar with the egos people grow when hiding behind screens. I wouldn’t call it a challenge to remain unscathed by negative comments, but it definitely wasn’t something I was used to. I think being that young it was really easy to get caught up with my appearance, and my insecurities began to pile up one comment after another. I had to learn to grow a thick skin quick, and I did. Putting my energy into the chase of unattainable standards was a distraction from what actually made me happy – producing work that I could be proud of. I found self-love in my creative ability, and since then nothing has swayed me.
Once you know what makes you happy, everything else just becomes noise. What drives you to blog?
What I love about blogging is that it’s my own little space. I’m in control of everything I put out, and that can range from projects I’m working on and shoots I’ve done, or playlist posts and plain venting like I’m writing in a diary. It can be whatever I want it to be, and I’m so happy to have created that space for myself. Through blogging and working online I’ve submersed myself into the global fashion community as well. It continues to introduce me to people within my industry who have the same passions and aspirations as I do, as well as people who have actually achieved those aspirations, which is incredibly inspiring and motivating. That plays a huge role in what keeps my passion burning.
How would you describe your personal style and how have you discovered it?
Fashion’s corresponding freedom of being able to represent yourself so explicitly and in such a dynamic way is what I find myself continuously craving. With time, you learn what satisfies that craving, and it becomes a part of you. I like to experiment, and I love being too much. In my wardrobe, more is always more. I’m endlessly evolving, and although my style represents that, one element always remains – it is empowering.