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  • Written by: Said Abusaud

Sadda Shaker Empowers Women, One Pageant At A Time

Photography by: Said Abusaud

Two months ago, I was on Instagram strategically planning my next project when I accidentally clicked on a hashtag and stumbled on a profile. It’s funny in life when people cross paths and you wonder on the why’s and how’s, and you know for whatever reason, this was not happenstance. I have been waiting on a partnership like this since I first started visually creating art four years ago and now I have the pleasure to help Sadda Shaker, a Las Vegas based entrepreneur, share her story.

“I want to make a movement in today’s world. People can do more than what they think they can do. That they can achieve more than they think they are capable of achieving. That pursuing their passion can turn into a full-time job that they can enjoy."

The feeling of inadequacy is not a foreign concept to Shaker. She grew up in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime which made for a strenuous upbringing. She lived her life believing she wasn’t good enough; from questioning her identity, her immigration status and even her faith; she faced constant ridicule from her environment on a daily basis. But she felt empowered to persevere and knew she could make an impact on people’s lives. To help women find their confidence, and ignite that fire within them and to love themselves for everything that they are and everything they are not.

Photography by: Said Abusaud

Shaker’s mission is to spark a movement of empowerment for all women to embrace themselves for who they are - she does so by dividing her time with the ever-growing pageant industry. Shaker's focus is highlighting the positive traits of pageantry such as the greater awareness of self in social situations, developing confidence and poise, and learning to love yourself for who you are. Much debate surrounds the notion that outer beauty is the only trait that matters which Shaker fights to prove, couldn't be farther than the truth. Pageantry gives young women a platform to foray in the fields they want and forge ahead - showing them what they really stand for; leadership, dedication, and the drive to make a difference in their community.

“Our society is filled with messages that tell us we should look a certain way or have a certain type of body to be accepted and desirable," Shaker said.

The ideals portrayed in advertising and media compel us to make comparisons and fixate over whether we measure up. Healthy self-esteem is about accepting you the way you are. It involves an ability to acknowledge you are uniquely made up of both strengths and weaknesses. The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. Although her upbringing was tough, Shaker wouldn’t change her past even if she could.

“I’m very appreciative of my abnormal childhood life, my past struggles and for all the hardship in my life,” Shaker said. “It built a strong character, made me resilient, and motivated me to be better and to prove to everyone that there’s more to me than my religion, my immigrant status, my faded accent or my teenage acne, that I am capable of rising above all of the stigma and the negativity and becoming a person of great value in society.”

In a world where career expectations consist of big business/corporation/cooking cutter degrees - Shaker and I are reshaping the expectations put upon us working in the art and fashion industry. She looks outside the box to make sure that all bases are covered before moving on, thinking of things that others may have forgotten. She has the ability to make people feel welcomed and always takes the time to help and provide the right direction. With a reputation like that, I jumped on the opportunity to help shape our fields in a more positive way.

Photography by: Said Abusaud

Growing up, we were made to think we have to be doctors or lawyers to be successful when it’s really the opposite. The world needs more artists and entrepreneurs. And this narrow framing of success comes at a price - young people who don’t “make it” are made to feel like failures and under-achievers, often leading them to isolate themselves from their communities and reject their identities. There's a short distance between you and over. And while we’re here, we’re creating a new way of thinking because at the end of the day, your happiness is of paramount importance.

If I had to describe her mission, it would be to grow and prosper in any endeavor she seeks - especially her goal to bring focus to inner beauty and it's never-ending importance on the future of our society. Shaker and I are teaming up to evoke a change that’s bigger than us - the connection that we built together developed so organically that it required no second thought. Humility is a virtue and one that when present in oneself, creates a work environment that is based on accountability and mutual respect. She shows up and she shows heart. And has earned my respect a thousand times over. She gives me that opportunity to move forward to the next stepping stone of where I want to be.


Instagram: @saddashaker

YouTube: Sadda Shaker

Facebook: Sadda Shaker


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