KARACHI: Popular Pakistani TikToker Uroosa Khan loves changing her hair color “frequently.” And Tahir Abbas takes pains to design flamboyant costumes for his musical performances on the popular short-video app.
Khan and Abbas are among a growing number of Pakistani TikTok stars who are going against the grain, using unique hair styles and color, makeup, clothes, tattoos and dance moves to make a “statement” and draw followers in a country where over 20 million people use the video app.
Uroosa Khan, who currently has 60,000 followers on TikTok and creates transition videos, says her unique selling point to draw in a larger audience is her hair.
“I have experimented with almost every [hair] color on myself,” Khan, 26, told Arab News. “I was bullied in school for being a tomboy so I changed my look to stand out from the crowd. It actually gives me confidence and now has become a part of my personality.”
It was “socially challenging,” Khan said, when she first experimented with a “funky” hair color in 2016.
“But I was in my vibe from the start and I didn’t care about criticism. Now, it’s different. Everyone appreciates it,” the influencer said, adding that she complimented her hair with “funky makeup looks, including glittery eyes, blue lipsticks and neon eye liners.”
“It looks so colorful and reflects my personality,” she said. “I really love to see how my followers, even my friends, ask for my unique hair color advice. The hair transformation actually gives me so much confidence that people’s negative opinions don’t affect me.”
Another TikToker, Daniya Kanwal, who has nearly a million followers on TikTok and creates dance and lifestyle content, said showcasing unique haircuts like a boy bob are “all about how comfortable and confident you feel.”
“I’ve had short hair for most years of my childhood. I remember I was diagnosed with a disease and I had to go bald,” she said.
“Those were the days I felt so different from everyone, I wanted to hide my face and never look up again. The younger me was not out of the box, but who I am right now is the exact opposite, I like to experiment with my hair and looks, and be confident in each one of them.”
Kanwal also likes making a “statement” with accessories.
“What makes my accessories great is thrifting and picking little things when I travel,” the 20-year-old said. “You can turn a boring outfit into a cool one by accessorizing it the right way and carrying it with confidence.”
Though it is sometimes difficult for people to understand her unique styles and she has been the victim of online trolling, Kanwal said it did not bother her.
“Social media trolls are obviously always there and for people it’s a little hard to digest someone’s style if it’s not what they expect (someone) of that gender to look like,” she said.
“At some point, my younger version would’ve thought about the validation from people on how I should dress or cut my hair but this version of me accepts me for who I really am and wants to style in the way I feel most confident in.”
Tahir Abbas, with 235,000 followers on TikTok, said amassing new followers required taking style risks.
“I try to wear something different and mostly design my own outfits. In cases where I opt for a designer, I do my homework first,” said Abbas, whose TikTok content features original musical performances.
“For my recent album ‘Ramz,’ I designed the dresses myself. The jacket I am wearing in the song ‘Mann Meriyan,’ ... I bought the cloth, the patches and did the whole design,” Abbas said, describing a bright orange jacket with colorful patches sown on.
Mehek Saeed, a Lahore-based stylist, welcomed the young stars for expressing their unique styles on social media.
“Style is a form of self-expression, particularly, when people put themselves out there on social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok,” she said. “So, if these TikTokers have bright-colored hair or bright eye shadow, they are probably trying to put across a mood or just trying to express themselves. And I am all for it.”
“This hair and this makeup is probably an extension of their personality,” she added. “More power to them.”