A YouTuber from Manchester says she is using her platform to help change attitudes towards mental health within the Asian community.

Mahum Sagher’s channel covers a range of topics including style tips, beauty hacks, hair styles and also social issues.

Mahum shares why she launched her channel initially.

“For the majority of my videos, the main inspiration behind them have been things that my mother and my Pakistani culture have taught me growing up.

“My mum was always really creative and would tell me really useful beauty and fashion hacks, which I adapted over the years.

“Another way for me to come up with video ideas is to think about issues that I deal with myself that I don’t see a lot of people talking about, for example, ‘The Hairy Girl Hacks.’

“A lot of people can feel ashamed to admit that they deal with certain issues and may feel as though they are alone.

"I never really saw many videos on YouTube discussing body hair and thought maybe I was the only one, when in reality a lot of girls from different cultures deal with these issues.”

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One topic that Mahum has addressed in-depth in her videos is that of body shaming. She says her personal experiences of this made her feel more passionate about articulating her story.

“I feel as though it is very important to talk about these issues because as women if we don't stick up for each other and act catty towards each other then things won't change for any of us.

“Growing up I felt as though there was a lot of ‘skinny vs curvy girl’ mentality, which I didn't think was right.

“I was teased quite a lot for being very skinny when I was a teenager and then as an adult I have been put down for my curves.

“I felt like there was no winning, no matter what you looked like people have something to say.

“I thought it was very important to make young girls aware of that, so they don't end up thinking something is wrong with them.

“I feel like the media and social media puts so much pressure on young girls at a very young age to look a certain way. Because of this a lot of girls will grow up to have body confidence issues.

“Therefore, it is important for ‘influencers’ to take some responsibility and speak up about these issues so that it can help young impressionable people.

“The truth is, a real woman should not be defined by her exterior.”

Having posted her first video on YouTube over five years ago, Mahum has also taken part in a soon to be released documentary on IGTV about mental health associated with growing up as a south Asian in the western world, called ‘The Place I Call Home.’

“The documentary focuses on the difficulties around growing up desi in a western society.

“For my part of the documentary I focused on the stigma surrounding mental health within South Asian cultures.

“This is something I feel very strongly about and want to create awareness around it.

“I believe as South Asians not only do we have pressures from our own desi culture to live up to, but we also struggle with societal norms.

“Cultural clashes and the amount of expectations from both sides can create serious anxiety and even lead to depression.

“On top of that, to this day, mental health isn't something that is openly discussed within the desi community.

“It is often brushed under the rug. I truly believe that this is something that needs to be addressed more so that people can find healthy ways to cope and deal with their mental health.

“Speaking from experience, once of the best things that helped me was having an Asian Muslim trained counsellor who worked in my local Islamic centre.

“Many people are unaware about services open to desi people or have been taught to believe that it's weak to seek such help.

“This is something I want to work towards changing.”

This feature appeared in the June 2019 edtion of Asian Life here