Deba Dazed 100 Academy
“I’d host a workshop for WOC with fashion experts, to encourage, connect and help women into the industry


Age - 20
 London, United Kingdom
“I’d host a workshop for WOC with fashion experts, to encourage, connect and help women into the industry


Four of the 2020 Dazed 100’s most exciting next-generation creatives – including Deba – will come together for four days of online workshops, talks, mentoring, and community-building in August 2020. Read more about the Dazed 100 Academy here.

Deba got into modelling just two years ago, when she speculatively sent some pictures to Anti-Agency. “I am a model and activist who defies Western beauty standards by being as unapologetically Kurdish as I can,” she explains. “I’m a 5’5”, hairy as f*ck, I have a unibrow, and a lot to say.”

As the daughter of immigrants from Kurdistan, Deba grew up in the UK feeling conscious that the way she looked didn’t fit into the narrow Eurocentric beauty standards upheld by the west. “I felt unrepresented as a child. I really didn’t see anyone in Western media that looked like me,” she recalls. Notably, in the two years since she was signed, she has used her platform to speak out about things that affect her and those like her, including privilege, diversity, and FGM (female genital mutilation). 

Working as a model has created an opportunity for Deba to help other girls who feel they don’t fit in. “I decided to grow out my eyebrows,” she says. “Something I used to get bullied heavily for became a symbol of hope and rebellion for me and many other people. My eyebrows, my armpits, my arms, my belly – it’s me saying that you do not need to be clean-shaven and have traditional standards of what it means to be beautiful.” 

How do you want to influence the future?

Deba: I hope I can help young women of colour to love themselves in a society where beauty standards are still so backwards and non-inclusive. I want young girls to believe that they are the change for a more inclusive and safer world. I want the fashion industry to support a wider definition of beauty, and for all of our ‘foreign’ features to be celebrated and represented. I want a future where everyone has the same chance of getting a job, and it’s not racially biased. That’s the influence I hope to somehow have on this world.

What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?

Deba: I’m passionate about racial equality because I’m tired of us having to work ten times harder than our white counterparts for the same position. 

I am also passionate about educating people on FGM (female genital mutilation). It’s still practised in a lot of countries, including Kurdistan. It’s an inhumane procedure that has ruined the lives and dimmed the light of so many women. FGM is a destructive operation during which the female genitals are partly or entirely removed or injured, with the aim of inhibiting a woman’s sexual pleasure. Most often the mutilation is performed before puberty, often on girls between the age of four and eight. 

My whole entire family has had this done apart from me. My mother and all four of her sisters have had this done back home in Kurdistan. It’s a brutal practice often performed in unsterile and unhygienic ways, often by someone with no medical experience. My mother recalls her experience as highly traumatic and painful, and remembers how the tool that was being used looked dirty and rusty. It’s something that no woman deserves to go through. FGM needs to be stopped. 

“I felt unrepresented as a child. I really didn’t see anyone in Western media that looked like me” – Deba

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund? 

Deba: I would host a workshop for women of colour, where they can benefit from connecting with experts from all fields of the fashion industry; where they can learn tips on how to persevere in such a busy, chaotic industry, and help build connections that could be of further help. I would also like to include a panel discussion to discuss the troubles we have faced in our working lives, and how we’ve turned them into strengths. I want us to be able to openly discuss how we can make our workspaces safer and more inclusive. We are the future so we need to utilise the power of our voices. 

The day would also include a dance class taught by my old dance teacher and mentor, the founder of Jukebox Collective, a multi-creative collective in South Wales that aims to bring the medium of dance, music, and art to young kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. Liara, the most amazing lady who owns Jukebox, has been a key role in my journey. She’s the type of person I want to be when I’m older so I’d love for her to be involved and show everyone how fun and uplifting dancing can be. 

I would also like to use this opportunity to raise money and awareness for FGM charities. I’d love to get someone who is highly educated in this field to come and show the attendees about the horrors of FGM, and why we all need to come together to help banish this ghastly practice.

Emily Dinsdale

Thanks for voting