KARACHI: Hoping to provide a new outlook and set modern standards within the beauty business, a three-day festival was organised by PR Mogul Frieha Altaf recently. Titled ‘Beyond Beautiful,’ it featured panel discussions and performances, aiming to do away with stereotypical notions of beauty.
While the event was attended by several celebrities, it was the trophy that got our attention and made us take a closer look at the initiative. It was shaped like the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro – the most celebrated, yet controversial, emblem of collective South Asian culture. Event organiser Frieha Altaf opened up with The Express Tribune about why she chose the Dancing Girl and a whole lot more.
‘The Express Tribune (ET)’: Why did you choose the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro for the trophies? What was it supposed to symbolise?
Freiha Altaf (FA): I have been holding cultural events for over 30 years and I always make it a point to highlight Mohenjo Daro. The reason behind this is that some people don’t realise what we have… we have civilisation that is over 4,000 years old.
The Dancing Girl is the essence of Beyond Beautiful. Look at the way she stands and the confidence she exudes… her poise, elegance, talent and style. We need to own it. She is ours and she belongs to us. We need to embrace this, take ownership of our country and everything that comes with it.
ET: What was the aim behind Beyond Beautiful?
FA: The aim behind Beyond Beautiful is to educate, empower and enhance. We wanted to keep it compact but also make sure that it doesn’t become shallow. Just doing an expo isn’t enough, in my eyes, to attract audiences and create an impact. We did a lot of work around it and it became an amalgamation of various topics.
The objective is to introduce people to different brands all under one roof. We don’t have departmental stores you can just walk into where you see Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford or brands like that. You can’t test the products, you can’t get demos done, you can’t get consultations. We also wanted to talk about the issues surrounding beauty because it’s very important.
ET: Can you give us more details on the awards?
FA: Beauty within Pakistan is very limited so it’s very important to educate audiences on what real beauty is. We wanted to celebrate the people who make a difference to people’s perceptions and mentality. These were awards for agents of social change; people like activist-model Kami Sid, former women’s cricket captain Sana Mir and Ayesha Chundrigar, who started an animal rescue foundation.
ET: Will this be a recurring event?
FA: It is an annual affair and we are hoping to hold the event, not just in Karachi but all over Pakistan – starting with Lahore. Beyond Beautiful is made up of numerous aspects and is not actually just one event. For example, the talented people we found at the beauty hunt will now go through a set of challenges and we will develop them further so they can go on to put their talent to use.
We will carry out some other events this year which will include showcasing the talented people we carried forward and hold an awards night for the brands. Next year, we will repeat everything that happened now but in a different city.
ET: How was the response?
FA: I wanted to make it accessible to celebrities, influencers and media so that it was comfortable and safe. I was extremely happy with the awards night – we were able to get the right jury, give away the right awards to the deserving people and create the idea that beauty isn’t skin deep, it lies within and that’s what really matters.
I was also very happy with the beauty hunt which brought us 60 talented people. Now we have a pool of candidates who are redefining what beauty is because they were of all ages, size and colour.
I’ve actually enjoyed an event like this after a very long time and I think it’s because the way it happened was exactly the vision we had had for it. It resonated with everyone.
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