Meet Shahana Jan, A Badass Feminist Instagrammer, Who Tackles Misogyny Perfectly

By Rameeza Ahmad | 7 Nov, 2020

Shahana Jan calls herself a ‘multi-hyphenate’ artist. The reason for this being that she wears a lot of hats. Her social media presence has recently been making waves because of her timely and often hard-hitting content. However, becoming a ‘content creator’ wasn’t exactly a conscious decision on Shahana’s part.

It was an acting coach who told Shahana how important it is for aspiring actors to be active on social media since casting agents these days are using social media more and more as a way to cast and audition new talent. The advice worked. Shahana started focusing on her Instagram.

Source: via @ofshahanajan via Instagram.com

Ever since Shahana started taking social media more seriously and producing content beyond sharing the coffee she had that day, her audience started to grow. And she started focusing on content that really mattered to her. Lucky for her, her audience cared about it too.

Shahana grew up in Islamabad and was heavily involved in the local theater scene.

She then went on to study filmmaking in South Africa and later went to be involved in television production for shows such as Coke Studio and Live from the Artists Den in New York.

Shahana trained as an actor in New York and is settled in America. Keeping in the spirit of her title ‘multi-hyphenate’ artist, she does a lot of things, such as work as an editor or DP for other projects, teach and run programs at a local filmmaking collective as well as do graphic design projects.

She recently came out with a short film titled ‘An MI6 Interview’, which she wrote, edited, and produced herself.

Shahana stars in the short film as a hopeful candidate for a job at MI6 and the film shows the interview process.

Despite all of her professional commitments on her plate, she makes sure to churn out a steady stream of amazing content for her Instagram audience.

Her Instagram content is not her first array in attempting to make digital content. In 2012, she and her friend Mariam were both homesick. While she was in South Africa, Mariam was in Canada. The two of them decided to found a womxn-lead collective that would create sketches together – Bhainhood.

They did this for about a year before taking an indefinite break. However, Bhainhood has been back since 2019 and has been steadily producing stellar womxn-lead content. It’s a female-led space and gives a platform to all womxn and (even trans, enby and male folks) to share their art.

If you’re familiar with her content, you’ll know that she tends to have a humorous approach and that is exactly what inspires her content.

According to Shahana, she doesn’t just like to point out the elephant in the room but “likes to dress it up, take it out to dance and have a conversation with it”.

Source: @ofshahanajan via Instagram.com

A lot of her content centers around womxn’s issues and feminism. A lot of content creators shy away from the word ‘feminism,’ especially labeling themselves as one, lest it upset their audience, but this isn’t an issue for Shahana.

According to her, she’s always been a bit of a rebel. She says she has always liked trying things that might kick up a storm. She said the more she explored things, which she felt she owed herself, the more she was met with resistance.

Having moved to the United States in 2016, right when the Times Up and Me Too movements there were picking up pace, she saw changes in herself; unlearning things which according to her all womxn are subject to our entire lives. Her content mirrors her own life experiences and this is why Shahana feels it resonates with her audience, since her experience is pretty universal for womxn, especially brown womxn.

According to Shahana, her content ideas come to her in the most random places.

It can be anywhere; while she’s showering or cycling. It can be born out of a phrase she heard. An example she gave is the song she made about the patriarchy not helping anyone. She thought of the phrase how ‘the patriarchy doesn’t help nobody’, soon she was humming it and had a beat and recorded the entire thing in the same evening.

Source: via @ofshahanajan via Instagram.com

As for how her audience receives her work, Shahana says she has been very lucky. Her audience has been kind and for those who sometimes take their criticism a bit far, Shahana knows about the importance of disengaging with them for her own mental well-being.

She knows that a lot of people are unwilling to let go of their implicit biases and feel threatened with ideas that challenge their beliefs. However, she hopes her content might open a window for them to explore a perspective they might be otherwise unfamiliar with.

Shahana only wants to create content that mirrors her experiences in life. While she doesn’t care about the numbers, her audience is growing quite rapidly. While she knows she could be even bigger if she chose to cater to her audience, that isn’t exactly Shahana’s cup of tea or what she set out to do.

For Shahana her platform will always be about telling her story and she hopes that people recognize their own story in hers as well.

Completely unapologetic when it comes down to it, in a world where everyone is trying to fit in the Instagram influencer mold, it’s quite refreshing to see Shahana do everything to break it.

What are your thoughts about her content? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Cover Image Source: @ofshahanajan via Instagram.com

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