Mina Is Changing the Conversation

Middle Eastern, queer and body positive—Mina uses beauty and fashion to inspire others to embrace their true selves

FLARE Archived Content

To see the original article, search for it on the Flare archive: https://flare.fashionmagazine.com

“I have no option but to be loud, bold and unapologetic about who I am.” Growing up gay in the small fishing town of Port Said in Egypt, Mina says he was acutely aware of the hatred and bigotry LGBTQ individuals faced in his community. In embracing himself fully, his aim is to empower others to do the same.

“As a gay Middle Eastern and North African man, beauty for me is taking everything I’ve been shamed for by my culture, religion and community and not letting that stop me from expressing myself. Beauty is standing strong in who you are.”

Mina made headlines in 2015 when Buzzfeed published an article chronicling his wildly hilarious and supremely creative celebrity photo recreations (think: Beyoncé at the Grammys and Nicki Minaj in a bathtub). The post went viral and his life changed overnight. But with internet fame come the trolls—and an onslaught of cruel commentary around both his sexuality and his looks. Mina, who at the time was in the midst of recovering from an eating disorder, felt overwhelmed and beaten down by the insults.

“I took eight months off of social media because my mental health was in such a bad space. I totally rebuilt myself. I needed a new purpose,” he says. “I wanted to share my journey towards self-acceptance, so I did a photoshoot where I was shirtless, my belly was out and my stretch marks were unretouched. I couldn’t believe how much value it brought to others by just sharing honestly. My mindset shifted—like, OK, my calling is to break these stigmas so others can see themselves and feel confident.”

Today Mina is shining bright. Wearing a sheer cobalt blouse with a button or two done to reveal a tuft of chest hair, he cups his iced coffee elegantly with fuchsia nails, newly done, adorned with rhinestones. For Toronto Pride, Mina had an equally memorable look, with a custom version Kendall Jenner’s Insta-famous multi-tiered pink tulle dress. From his cheeky photoshoots to his bold OOTDs, it doesn’t seem like Mina is the least bit shy about being himself, but he acknowledges that there is still a hard gap between his freedoms online and the realities offline.

“I am still learning how to translate all these things I talk about so boldly online to real life. To be honest I still get scared. Simply being who I am can subject me to violence. That is why we need to have these conversations,” he says.

Mina’s struggles for self-confidence and acceptance are his main motivators in everything he does.

“For a beauty retailer like Sephora to embrace and celebrate someone like me from my culture, Middle Eastern, gay. I can’t wrap my head around that this is actually happening. This is so impactful for my community. I hope they feel seen.”

Discover More at Sephora.ca/Belong

Mina’s Beauty Bag Staples