Fatimah Odeh, 17, of Michigan was complemented by a girl around the age of seven, on her skin being lighter than hers. Odeh bothered, said, “It made me feel empty, very angered and sad and I almost felt like she had been cheated. Cheated in a way that society wasn’t allowing her to love herself and cherish herself like she deserved to.”
Odeh channeled her anger and emptiness into a 12-minute video on redefining beauty which includes interviews by fellow Muslims of her community and their definition of beauty. “I stayed up all night up until Fajr planning ideas for this initiative. I knew that I couldn’t make a billboard or anything too big. I had to start small, with my community in Michigan,” said Odeh. It was important for Odeh to relay a message of beauty different than the normal standards.
Pleased with the outcome of her project Odeh said, “I didn’t expect to get the answers that I got when interviewing teenage boys on their definition of beauty. When you watch the video you’ll notice that some open up and go against the definition that social media shoves in our face to believe. And so it was comforting for me to hear that the youth in my community can define beauty on their own, completely ignoring the fact that society expects them to think a different way.”
A lot of those interviewed in the video had their own definition of beauty. “I think the mainstream definition of beauty is flawed. Not anyone can just acquire it. That kind of beauty has to be inward, beauty that radiates from the love of Allah that comes from the heart,” said interviewee, Osama Odeh.
Yunma Alam, one of those interviewed, said, “There is beauty in Him [God] and the fact that I’m a creation, His creation, that is such a peaceful and beautiful thought….I am a slave of Him that makes me feel beautiful.”
Fatimah Odeh has received many positive messages because of the video in which people tell her how it has inspired them to be more comfortable in their own skin. She wants to bring across the message that there are topics in our comminutes that need to be discussed; “The point I’m trying to get across is that, all we ever have to do sometimes is bring up the topic, start the discussion, and watch out youth take over.”
So, what’s Fatimah’s definition of beauty? “Beauty to me, is selflessness. It is great humility, generosity, and love. … People who genuinely remind you of genuine happiness. I think a beautiful person has the guts to speak up for someone who can’t, I think it’s someone who can be just in a situation where being greedy is what is expected of them. Someone who can defy all odds and stand up for what’s right.”