Now, this is what we call pretty in pink: Perennial fave Yara Shahidi looks poised to take flight on the cover of June’s Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, wearing powder-pink-feathered Chanel, with her glorious curls teased to voluminous perfection by go-to stylist Nai’vasha Johnson.
Inside the issue, the actress and activist continues to think pink in an array of the French design house’s blush-colored tulles and tweeds from its Spring/Summer ’18 collection—often paired with Shahidi’s own sneakers—while musing on what it means to be both multicultural and a modern woman.
“Being multicultural, you can’t help but be interested and connected to the world around you,” she tells the magazine. “My family is from all over the world, so how can you not care for people around the world, too?”
Shahidi’s own Middle Eastern roots run deep: The Minnesota-born actress’s father, photographer Afshin Shahidi, is Iranian, while her actress mother, Keri, is African American. Fun fact: Yara Shahidi’s first language was actually Farsi. And who knew that her cousin is Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian-American astronaut and female private space explorer? As Shahidi explains:
My baba was born in Iran and I come from a beautiful matriarchy on both sides of my family, which I adore ... My Iranian relatives have reaffirmed the idea that the sky is the limit—but in fact, my cousin proved that the sky isn’t even the limit because she went to space!
But because Shahidi’s own heritage is so happily mixed, she’s never felt a need to pick sides, instead allowing her activism and global awareness to be her guide:
I don’t see much of a ‘this is my black side and this is my Iranian side’, because I come from a family of socially-engaged humans ... I’m learning and constantly reminding myself that while there are so many barriers connected to our identity, I have to be really cognizant to realize I’m not one of my own barriers, if that makes sense? There’s so much happening and whether you look at culture or politics there’s so much to deal with just to get through the day, so this year has been reminding myself that I shouldn’t be preventing myself or putting up barriers for myself. You’re self-critiquing in a way, and I find myself doing that and it’s really unnecessary in a world where people already tell us what we should and shouldn’t do. ... just things like “maybe I’m not worthy of this space that I’m in,” or “my voice isn’t valuable.” Moments where you second-guess yourself… I think it’s called “imposter syndrome.”
It’s hard to believe that anyone would accuse Shahidi of being an imposter or of not using her platform well; she’s been steadfastly outspoken on issues of equality, and tireless in her encouragement of young people like herself to get engaged in the political process. To that end, she founded Yara’s Club in partnership with the Young Women’s Leadership Schools, to encourage and support other young activists; and Eighteen x 18, an initiative to encourage first-time voters like herself to participate in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections in November. She even threw a voter-registration party for her 18th birthday!
In fact, Shahidi is so serious about civics that not only will she be majoring in social studies when she enters Harvard this fall, but she has also memorized all of “Cabinet Battle #1" from her favorite musical, Hamilton.
And as a newly minted 18-year-old woman, Shahidi is also not shy about claiming feminism for herself “as a belief in equity and equality, for both genders, and about getting rid of the hierarchy.” As she tells Harper’s Bazaar Arabia:
I do classify myself as a feminist, but in that same conversation we realize that women’s liberation looks different in different women. So it’s about being inclusive. It’s not saying ‘this is what a liberated woman looks like,’ it’s about a conversation that each woman chooses for themselves.
Now, that’s a rosy perspective we can get behind.