The first in our latest series, “The Six People that Left A Footprint on Your Life” , we delve into the true meaning of influence. A term used loosely nowadays by people with a certain number of followers and who take really good photos. Going back to basics, we define influencers as people that we welcome into our lives by choice, we are attracted to who they are and what they do. I, Suhad Shtayyeh start off the series with the six people that played an ‘ah ha’ moment in my life so far…
1 || The Lady I Grew Up With
Maternal family figures will always shape our lives, it is however the influence of their personality that we have a choice about. My mother is the lady I grew up with, and yes she moulded my thoughts but she also showed me a side to her that has stayed with me by choice. For 20 years my mother was employed as an English school teacher by the Kuwaiti Educational System. Every day of the working week she would dress up and go to her public school in the middle of the desert and teach underprivileged girls the English language. The pupils’ predicament and the location of the school had little affect on my mother’s dress code. Each day she meticulously applied her makeup, undid her slept-in sponge rollers, dressed appropriately in her latest collection, spritzed on some White Linen by Estee Lauder and left the house. It occurred to me years later that had she worn a paper bag it would have sufficed. My mother dressed for herself, it was about her self-image. It is, till today, a beautiful example of self-love that still rings true.
2 || Jane Fonda
I grew up with The Jane Fonda Workout on a Sony Betamax video. Long after all these were outdated Jane Fonda still lives on. I watched her, read articles about her and tuned in to any interview with her. Jane Fonda has a certain energy about her that reminds me that beauty and youth live within you. Regardless of how much botox or filler you have subjected yourself to, the fountain of youth is within you. Over the years there has been one Jane Fonda constant, she acts with confidence and youthfulness, which translates to getting stuff done with a hopeful and positive attitude.
3 || Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron captured the hearts of the world in her two movies : When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. Nora captured by heart however through her books, she had the ability to talk about personal issues affecting all women in a light-hearted, relatable yet intelligent way. She drew me in with her matter-of-fact attitude, tugged at my heart strings with her vulnerability and intrigued me with all her facts. As I consumed her books over and over again, my aspirations as a writer were ignited. I wanted to write like Nora, perhaps someday I will…. Till then, rest in peace Nora.
4 || Margaret Atwood
I was first introduced to the iconic Canadian author Margaret Atwood through her novel, Alias Grace.Till today it is one of the greatest books I have read. Margaret Atwood reminds us that the unlikely is still possible. She has broadened my horizons and allowed me to consider life’s what ifs. Her writing’s twists and turns allow for a journey into the realm of untapped possibility. It is hard to pick up a book of hers (I have obviously read every single one), without coming out believing in the miracle of possibility. Her book, A Handmaid’s Tale written in the 1980s, is finally a mini-series.
5 || Donna Karan
When I was growing up male Italian fashion designers were all the rage. Emmanuel Ungaro, Emilio Pucci and of course Gianfranco Ferre. Then along came Donna Karan and changed how the world dressed. It is important to remember that not only was she a woman, but she was American as well. This meant that her fashion aesthetic was particularly different to the Italian fashion brands. She showed a more relaxed attitude and a minimalism of design elements that allowed the woman wearing the pieces to shine through. Women around the world experienced a thrilling sense of freedom, something that Donna Karan herself carries with her always. She is a free spirit, plays by her own rules and looks really great for her age. You should follow her on Instagram, I certainly do…
6 || Wardeh
I love Wardeh… I know all the words to most of her songs. Many singers have trended for a year or two on my playlists, then dropped off like false eyelashes, Wardeh holds her place. There is a cheekiness and intelligent spark in her eyes that makes her appear prettier than she really is, that’s because she is beautiful. Her songs charm and engage us, she is talking to us alone. Wardeh taught me that wit, charm and light-heartedness go a long way in winning over people. She wasn’t the prettiest or the one with the best voice but she was able to engage with millions the world over with her character, charisma and vulnerability, may she rest in peace.