Beyonce has come under fire more and more frequently lately. If someone's not questioning her skills as a songstress, someone's questioning the very legitimacy of her child. Things have gone as far as her being critiqued on where she chooses to personally celebrate her wedding anniversary with her equally legendary husband, Jay Z.
Imagine having someone question your every choice. How would that change how you do things, when you decide to do them and where?
But this has become the norm for Americans living under the influence of the media, social media and TMZ. In essence, the very things we take for granted (but shouldn't) such as freedom of speech and choice are trashed or praised by tabloids -- depending on which spin sells more magazines.
Free will is the basis of our very existence. We are proudly grounded from this very concept, but what was once meant to represent the freedom of individuals to set them free from the control of others, has become a nightmare for celebrities. We, the very people that have elevated celebrities to the platform of fame and fortune, have the same power to take them down. To destroy them maliciously while forgetting that we had once praised, rewarded and even emulated them.
So what is an artist to do? Cease to exist? Stop practicing the very talents that brought them into existence?
We know those who have been sacrificed by the power we had over them. We, our society as a whole, have destroyed entire families, careers and even the very souls of celebrity figures. Have we forgotten so soon about Leonardo Da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Phyllis Hyman, Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye to name only a few?
Interestingly enough, we have an attempted an altruistic way of making these individuals into "saints" of sorts after we have destroyed their lives and, maybe, led them to their untimely deaths. Perhaps it is out of guilt for the way we labeled them as mad, anti-social, dysfunctional -- even dangerous while they were alive.
Remarkably, in the face of all these pressures, judgments and proofs of destruction, stand many talented individuals ready to walk the very path of those before them. To embark on the same journey as those who came before them because they are filled with hope, knowing with full confidence that they were born to share their talents with the world.
I bring to you a new set of "greats." Those who are destined to leave their mark on society.
But unlike those mentioned above, they face more than just the challenges of their predecessors. They have been condemned at birth by the simple fact that they are female, born into a society where women are second-class citizens and destined to walk in the shadows of their male counterparts in their culture.
Add the title of artist to them and you may as well have sealed their doom. An artist is already known to experience internal torment -- the thin line between sanity and madness. And now you want to add the title of woman? God save me!
But is being woman a weakness? Evidently not to these women I have had the pleasure of meeting. I hear their passion, their dedication, and their excitement and am inspired by the deep drive they have to do what they were born to do -- create!
Meet Mariam Al Mazro, clothing designer, Emirati. She stands just above five foot tall and she dresses in full black, Abaya, her clothing covering her head to toe with the slight exception of her face. Yet she is in full make-up to emphasize her eyes, lips and rosy cheeks. Her shoes are Marc Jacobs. Even the hidden labels under her masking garment were impressive to say the least.
In conversation with Al Mazro, she is able to name some of the most well known designers in the world. She is well-versed in the fashion world she plans to take over, at least in her region of the world -- an event that may have already been set in motion.
Her inspirations can be seen in her design, her use of prints and colors dramatically effective.
Al Mazro does not limit herself to just the gulf. She seeks to build, learn and explore outwardly. I can see the frustration in the way her eyes become glossy when she speaks of some her challenges. But she snaps out of it quickly, and the strength returns to her voice. I have full confidence in her skills. She is determined to clear up the misconceptions that the West may have about her and her fellow sisters in the Gulf Region.
Next meet Sahar Fikri, architect, who uses "the manipulation of spaces to induce certain
Fikri is not sure whether or not her gender makes a difference in her choice of study and career path. But what I found more impressive about her studies in architecture is that she went beyond just designing buildings to become a project manager. Her choice of words fascinate me: Manipulation. The power to cause. Influence. In her native region, to be a woman is to be a second-class citizen and to see power in her words and power in her career hits me like a beautiful oxymoron.
If you have no power over yourself, how can you be given power to design, oversee a space or building that others will forever see and forever be influenced by? The very concept fascinates me to no end.
This series of interviews will let you hear directly from "The Daughters of Men." These daughters, sisters, stand tall and ready to fight for their position and to be recognized by their peers whether their peers be women or even the very men who may try to block them, the men who may try in vain to slow them down.
But from what I gather from my time with these women, they will not be stopped!
I close in the lyrics of The Eurythmics.
Sweet dreams are made of this,
Who am I to disagree
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
Hold your head up, keep your head up, movin' on