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Gender non-conforming makeup artist Zain Shah on toxic masculinity and online bullying

By Screen Shot

Nov 21, 2020

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This year, and more specifically this month, the conversation around both online bullying and toxic masculinity has been incessant. For Anti-Bullying Week 2020, as part of the Not Just A Comment campaign, Screen Shot spoke to British South Asian, gender non-conforming makeup artist Zain Shah about the hate he receives, his fight against toxic masculinity through makeup and his advice for anyone else doing the same or struggling to shake off the haters.

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As a British South Asian, gender non-conforming makeup artist, what is your experience with online bullying like?

There’s a lot of hate, from people who don’t understand what I do. These people truly don’t want to understand and are fuelled by insecurities of their own. Being a queer POC and an individual that challenges gender stereotypes makes me a target on many different levels.

What would be your advice to anyone currently fighting toxic masculinity (be that through a celebration of their own identity or using their online presence)?

I would say thank you for speaking about a topic that so many turn a blind eye to. It’s easy to get burnt out when being a social activist, so my advice would be to protect your energy and remember to take care of yourself in the process.

When did you first realise that your interests didn’t fit society’s beauty standards? How did that impact you and your mental well-being?

Differences aren’t celebrated. I realised this as a young teen who enjoyed doing things society deems as typically ‘feminine’, and being called out for it at school; not just by students, but teachers too.

What do you do when you read some hurtful online comments about you in order to look past those?

I don’t engage with the hate. Often, these individuals are looking to get a rise out of you or to start an argument. Nobody has power over you unless you allow them to. I choose not to give value to their opinions or to give away my precious time to negativity.

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What would you say to people who are struggling with their culture, values and beliefs in order to help them overcome societal pressures?

I would say that while cultures and values can give us a sense of belonging, they don’t often care about the individuals’ happiness. Prioritise yourself, and choose your happiness first.

You use your platform as a way to encourage more comprehensive beauty standards. So far, what changes have you seen in your industry as well as in people’s mindsets?

I’ve seen other young South Asians step into their own power and reject society’s narrow standards of beauty. A few beauty brands are on the path of championing true diversity by moving past tokenising people of colour.

How mindful of online bullying would you say you are when posting new content online?

To be honest, I don’t factor it in anymore but I did at the start. If you’re proud of your work, nothing else matters. Stand by your art.

What boundaries have you set on your social media platforms in order to keep some aspects of your life ‘safe’ from online bullies?

As I mentioned, I don’t engage with the hateful comments and messages I receive. I also give myself frequent breaks from checking my social media, especially after I post.

If you could, what kind of life advice would you give your younger self?

You’ve got to make bad choices to learn how to make better ones. Live in the moment and enjoy every aspect of what you do. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself!

Finally, what is the best thing you would recommend people to do for Anti-Bullying Week 2020?

Check-in with yourself and address any negative behaviours and patterns you may have. After you’ve done that, start a discussion with your friends and family and call out any ‘bullying’ that you see.

Online bullying can affect everyone, including children, teens and adults. No one should go through the distress and loneliness that the brutality of hateful comments can lead to. With the help of Ditch The Label, we found it crucial to encourage others to open up about the hurtful comments they receive in order to knock down the idea that online abuse is acceptable.

You too, share on social media a picture or a video of the meanest comments you’ve received. Use the hashtag #NotJustAComment and encourage others to do the same. Reach out to anyone who you think might be suffering from bullying and donate if you can to help support the incredible work Ditch The Label is doing!

Gender non-conforming makeup artist Zain Shah on toxic masculinity and online bullying


By Screen Shot

Nov 21, 2020

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Porn star Josh Moore on dealing with online bullying through self-love and positivity

By Screen Shot

Nov 18, 2020

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Adult film actor Josh Moore celebrates his sexuality and identity both on-screen and in real life. As an OnlyFans creator, he stands up for sex workers’ rights while challenging stigmas surrounding HIV. Moore has perfected the art of ignoring haters and carried on being his fabulous self by always speaking up.

That’s why for Anti-Bullying Week 2020, Moore sat down with Screen Shot to speak about online bullying and the impact it has on people’s well-being in support of the Not Just A Comment campaign. He shared more about the ways he deals with online hate so that you too can learn from his experiences.

 

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Your career choice is not always understood by everyone and it is often a reason for insults on social media. What made you choose to work in the adult industry despite knowing it was not going to be accepted by many?

It’s something that has always been interesting to me, and now it’s a real passion of mine—sex for me is a beautiful and powerful and art, and I love being able to create something that pleasures others.

Working in this industry must have changed your perspective on things to some extent. Has your self-confidence changed throughout the years, particularly in relation to hurtful comments?

Oh absolutely. You have to change and adapt pretty quickly. As soon as you reach any sort of social media fame, it comes with a price, and that, unfortunately, is trolling. My self-confidence took a battering for many years at the start of my career due to this.

You’ve used your voice to talk about sex workers’ rights while challenging stigmas surrounding HIV. So far, what changes have you seen in your industry as well as in people’s mindsets?

I always try my best to raise awareness on a lot of different matters, since starting in the industry 5 years ago, the stigma surrounding HIV and sex without a condom has changed massively, and we in the industry have the power to influence that through porn and our social media. I think that’s very powerful as there is zero sex education out there for young gay men!

I also think that we, as sex workers, are becoming more visible and more mainstream, thanks to the ‘Cock Destroyers’ Sophie Anderson and Rebecca More, the playful female porn star duo that has captured the nation’s hearts and really shows the humanity and joy behind sex workers and their career. But we still have a long way to go when it comes to our rights and the stigma we face, so I’ll always be there on the front line battling that!

 

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What would you tell young adults struggling with their own sexual identity?

I would tell them that being your authentic self brings so much joy. I’m not saying it will be an easy road to travel—sometimes to get there, it’s hard being LGBTQIA+, coming out especially or being confused. But please explore yourself, find what works for you, and be proud and open to do so! Because until you can be yourself and show the world who you really are, I don’t think you can be truly happy.

How mindful of online bullying would you say you are when posting new content online?

I try to be as mindful as I can be, but as a human, we all make mistakes. I myself have made mistakes and said mean things online when I’m frustrated or angry, but remember before you post anything that it could potentially hurt someone. Leave it for 10 minutes, calm yourself down, think about the human on the other side of that tweet or comment, and then come back to it and rethink posting.

What are other things you do to help you feel more confident?

I have a mantra when I’m feeling a little shaky or not so confident, I quietly say to my self ‘I am beautiful, I am powerful, I am strong and I’ve fucking got this’. It always helps me, and please try it, it can help you too! You need to tell yourself these things, even if you don’t feel them, make yourself believe! Fake it ‘till you make it!

What boundaries have you set on your social media platforms in order to keep some aspects of your life ‘safe’ from online bullies?

I’ve set boundaries in my own mental space, if I receive a negative comment, I will totally ignore that person—I won’t even block or delete, they will just not be acknowledged. Because what they are looking for when they troll you is a reaction and blocking is a reaction, it makes them feel like they have won. So a total lack of acknowledgement is always my go-to move.

If you could change one aspect about the internet, what would it be?

Stop the censorship of LGBTQ+ people on Instagram. The platform is full of female celebrities showing almost everything, but we as sex workers and gay people are reported, banned, and blocked every day for the same pictures.

What else do you think needs to be done when it comes to sex workers’ rights?

Decriminalisation!

Finally, what is the best thing you would recommend people to do for Anti-Bullying Week 2020?

Go out there on social media and be an anti-bully. Go spread love, joy, and positivity! Tell people how beautiful they are, tell them they are doing great, that their hair looks amazing and their outfit looks so cool—you never know, your comment may make someone’s day, or even save a life. Always remember that your comments hold power.

For Anti-Bullying Week 2020, Screen Shot is supporting the anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label in its mission to tackle online abuse. Our Not Just a Comment campaign features 6 inspiring change-makers (including Moore) who know first hand what it’s like to receive hate online. They shared with us the worst comments they’ve ever received as they come together to highlight the impact that words can have on each and every one of us.

Share with anyone who you think might be suffering from bullying and donate if you can to help support the incredible work Ditch The Label is doing. Share the hurtful comments you’ve received online using #NotJustAComment and raise awareness about the impact of online bullying.

Porn star Josh Moore on dealing with online bullying through self-love and positivity


By Screen Shot

Nov 18, 2020

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