Social media has spread like wildfire over the last decade or so. With over 4 billion users worldwide, it has the potential to impact people in an endless variety of ways. Some use it to spew hatred and spread misinformation. Others choose to empower the underprivileged and be the tender presence that comforts people in times as troubling as ours. Pakistani-American artist and influencer Mina Hasan uses her platform proudly for the latter.
Based in Boston, Mina Hassan’s family is originally from Pakistan. As is usually true for new immigrants, her early years were already rough. Her father’s growing back injury further made the situation worse. Living on food stamps and with little prospect for change, Hasan’s mother decided to take matters into her own hands. She went back to school to study and ultimately became the breadwinner for the family. Her mother’s struggle and commitment instilled in her the importance of dedication and hard work, but Hasan did not feel like she had many South-Asian influences outside her family. As a result, she grew up with increasing insecurity and developed certain habits that were destructive to her health.
Hasan eventually started documenting her life and struggles with alienation on platforms like Instagram and Youtube. Over time, hundreds of people joined in and started reaching out to her. It was then that she recognized how vital it was to be the South-Asian role model for her community that she so needed.
Because Hasan’s goal is primarily to tell young girls of color that brown is beautiful, she constantly debunks toxic beauty standards. She calls out corporations for discriminatory behavior, ensuring that impressionable individuals consciously identify defects in themselves. On the other hand, she discusses problematic behaviors typical in South Asian households, such as casual violation of privacy and transactional affection. She takes on toxic household cultures, unhealthy eating habits, possible ways of overcoming them, and easy fashion hacks that resonate with over 100k followers on Instagram.
The wellness and lifestyle influencer is also an artist with a unique way of mixing minimalism with colors. Her artwork draws on her south-Asian identity, focusing on geographical themes like maps and important landmarks. She incorporates dusky and oriental hues in the background with maps of Muslim-majority and southeast Asian countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. Her art resonates with so many people because it is rooted in her culture of coexistence and peace – a facet that is often muddled with ideological machinery set in place by Western media. She openly speaks out for the wretched and dispossessed through her work and it is no surprise that her 100k followers find that inspiring and refreshing.
Currently, Hasan is getting her undergraduate degree in Business Studies from UMass. Her long-term goals include opening a marketing firm to promote the voices that do not often get any platform to express themselves. She hopes to help her community and alleviate, to some extent, the pain and struggle of being the other in the social sphere.