Shukriya’s Changing the Game. Here’s How.

In our August issue, we uncover a melancholic side to Shukriya, a young creative and model based in the UAE.

Sarah Al Nuami for Unootha.

Q: Who is Shukriya and what does she stand for?

A: I’m a young creative who is learning as she goes. I make it a point to try as many new things as I can to be a well-rounded womxn. I stand for peace, acceptance, love and growth, and all the negativity that comes with it. 

Sarah Al Nuami for Unootha.

Q: Why @brokeindubay?

A: I get asked this a lot which is super funny. People think there’s a deeper meaning to it when in reality it was both me and my friend, Shamma, having a laugh about how people internationally have an idea of what it’s like living in Dubai. Meaning you live a very lush life and it’s a vacation everyday when in reality the majority of us are working like crazy and barely making a living.

Q: What was the message that you started with and has this changed after being immersed in the fashion culture?

A: I started off only exclusively speaking from a plus-size perspective, trying to advocate for girls like me who couldn’t shop, feel cute or just live a normal life without feeling terrible all the time. After time had passed and my platform got larger and larger I started speaking on a lot more than just that. I am only now realizing that I have a proper platform and people listen to me. So I’ve added the normalization of mental health, the hate and love I receive, and just being more transparent overall. 

Q: Tell us more about the boundaries that you had to break in modelling as a plus-size model in the UAE (because that must be different from the growing inclusivity in the States).

A: I actually love this question. Crazily enough, my first serious modelling gig was with Namshi. I remember going in for that casting and just knowing I wasn’t going to get it. A fat and black girl with long box braids on an e-commerce website in the UAE? That sounded impossible to me, but I tried it anyway.

They got back to me a few days later and booked me for a campaign that was online for months. It was a big win for me and girls like me in the region who saw it. Sadly with opportunities like this there’s a very real issue where brands speak on wanting to be more inclusive now knowing that that is what our society is trying to achieve without actually putting in the work. I’ve been on a few jobs under the guise it was for empowerment when they wouldn’t even have clothes for me. Literally nothing would fit. I’ve made a conscious decision to be more aware of situations like that.

Sarah Al Nuami for Unootha.

Q: When starting a styling project (#StyledByShuks) you specifically targeted plus-size persons, why did you take that step and what gap are you combating? Where do you see this going?

A: #StyledByShuks stemmed from a problem I face myself. I love fashion and experimenting my style but shopping is so difficult. Having a fantasy of the perfect look but not having the tools to execute it is disheartening. The outfits and looks you see on my page or in real life take a lot more work that most people may think. As effortless and fun as they may be, I had to scour malls, stores, thrift shops, and online spots for them. It’s a task in itself. So I totally understand when girls who are bigger have dream outfits they can’t make happen on their own. That’s why I’m here to help! I’ve found ways to bypass the barriers. I see #StyledByShuks hopefully taking off and inspiring womxn like me to start reaching out to our sisters and helping each other look our best at all times.

Q: If you could verbally illustrate your journey with self doubt, what shapes and colors would you use?

A: My self doubt is intertwined with my mental health. Last summer I would describe it as murky black and square. Totally void of happiness and hope. Right now, I’m the shape and color of an aloe vera plant. Full of healing properties and goodness. 

Q: If you could pick a song that represents your life now what would it be?

A: Doja Cat – Juicy. It’s an ode to big girls and feeling good in your body and I feel so beautiful right now. 

Sarah Al Nuami for Unootha.

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