How One Media Game-Changer Stays Super Chill In A Stressful World
At age 17, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was faced with the same question we all are as we stand on the threshold of adulthood: Who am I, and who do I want to be?
But as a high school senior in 2009, living in a post-911 world marred by Islamaphobia, it’s a question that loomed even larger for Girlboss Rally guest speaker. And so, claiming space for her own identity as a young Muslim-American woman, she founded the website MuslimGirl.
Less than a decade later, Al-Khatahtbeh has turned a passion project into a full-blown media site. The site now attracts over 100 million visitors a year; she’s a former consultant for the Malala Fund; her lauded memoir Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age came out from Simon & Schuster last year; and most recently, she’s served as an ambassador for the Lipstick Lobby and their OUTRAGE campaign, which directly benefits the ACLU.
We checked in with Al-Khatahtbeh about what keeps her going on a day-to-day basis, and how to find small pleasures when you’re endlessly working on big problems.
"When you know that there is a purpose to literally everything, it puts more power behind your movements and makes them that much more intentional. It also keeps your mind right, to deal with anything unexpected that comes your way.
"It reminds me of the Islamic proverb, 'What is meant for you will reach you, even if it is beneath two mountains. What isn't meant for you won't reach you, even if it is between your two lips.'"
Beauty essential: Liquid eyeliner.
"I can forget to leave home with a lot of things, but never a cat eye."
Can't-miss podcast: The Read by Crissle West and Kid Fury.
"I love podcasts where I feel like I'm catching up with my friends, and that's what it's like listening to this one. It's woke AF and catches me up on the all the pop culture I might've missed that week while I was busy entrepreneur-ing."
Dream outfit: A Pulitzer-prize medal.
"I think I'd be able to rock a Pulitzer with any outfit quite well, no?"
Currently reading: Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Renni Eddo-Lodge.
"I've had the pleasure of speaking on a number of panels with Renni this year and she has never failed to inspire me by her raw unapologetic response to today's burdens on people of color. This book is Renni's approach, bound into pages."
Currently listening to: "I'm With The Banned" playlist on Spotify.
"It features artists from countries on 45's historic blunder of a 'travel ban.'"
"Anything is better than the nothing. I'll try to make use of the random moments of the day, where you feel like you can't get anything significant done, by doing just the bare minimum—squeezing in an email response from my phone or checking in with a MuslimGirl editor. At least it'll make you feel like you're doing what you can in the given circumstances, you know?"
Most-opened app: WhatsApp
"It's the main way I communicate with our MuslimGirl team, which is almost entirely managed digitally, and how I keep in touch with the international friends I've made during my travels over the past couple of years."
Can't-live-without hair accessory: Hair pins.
"Sis, you think I mean these?"
"Nah, I mean these babies. How else do you think I can keep this scarf on my head?!"
Go-to shoe: Flats.
"And I don't mean just any flats. I mean a pair of true, mistake-me-for-a-dancer, 'Holly Golightly sneaking into Fred's apartment through the fire escape,' Amy Winehouse-esque ballet flats."
"When I was in college, I did this so often that I'd be rocking a different color each time my classmates saw me. There's something therapeutic about having to slow down—about not being able to bang on a keyboard or tap on your phone for a minute—and going through the step-by-step process of removing and reapplying polish. And at the end of it, your claws are perpetually slaying. It's really a win-win."
Words: Deena Drewis