YazTheSpaz: Muslim-American YouTube Celebrity Speaks to Arab America
BY: Adrian Tafesh/Contributing Writer
Women who chose to wear the hijab understand what it is to live life simultaneously as a person and as a symbol. Whether well-intentioned or otherwise there are those within and outside of the Muslim community who see hijabi women as a stand-in for something else, an ideology, or a commitment to a certain moral code. In reality they are simply people, as similar and also as varied as anyone else.
Youtuber and entrepreneur YazTheSpaz understands this as well as anyone. Her channel, which has over 60,000 subscribers, caters to an audience as wide and diverse as the content she produces. “I get tons of emails from girls who appreciate what I do, and that’s why I do it, to help girls out there.”
Yaz is known for her make-up, cooking and, especially, hijab tutorials. “It started when I would go to the Mosque, other women would see the way I wrapped my hijab and ask me how I did it. After getting enough requests I decided to make my first tutorial.” She did not plan to continue the channel after that but found that there was a genuine interest. “My friends shared the videos and they shared it with their friends and so on, and that’s how the channel started.”
That there was such an intense response from women who wanted her to continue is not surprising. The public profile of hijab-wearing women is steadily on the rise (H&M anyone?) and more than ever we live in an age where typically underrepresented people can find a bond in shared social experience. Basically, hijabi women have been the ones driving the increase of public interest and understanding of their own culture, and YazTheSpaz is among many who have both participated in and benefited from that effort.
However, Yaz’s channel has been as much an exercise in individuality as community. “The channel allowed me to truly be me, while still dressing modestly like I wanted. I have always loved art and this was a way to express that in a sense.” The level of independent expression that YouTube has allowed fits right in line with her multi-cultural upbringing, which she credits with opening her up to different people and experiences. “My father is Turkish and my mother is Cuban, and those are in a sense very different cultures. That has allowed me to be able to relate to many people of different backgrounds, in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.”
At various points in the interview, Yaz would refer to her faith when discussing her various successes, and she did not shy away from doing so again when considering what is to come next. “Everything that has come my way has been a blessing” she said. “I want to keep making videos but I can never really say for sure, I just have to trust God.”
*To see some of Yaz’s videos check out her channel here.