In a candid conversation with Azmeri Haque Badhon, the actress and model gave insights on her experience with Dove’s self-esteem campaign and how she has been coping with being at home amidst the ongoing pandemic. She talked about the importance of mental health and how to raise awareness regarding this problem.
How are you dealing with the quarantine situation?
The situation we are in right now is undoubtedly very unfortunate and wasn’t expected at all. I do believe we are all adapting to this now more than we were a few months back when all this started. Even though the fear still remains, I am personally trying to make sure I am ready for the challenges I am going to face after we overcome this situation. In order to do so, I exercise regularly to stay healthy and active, both physically and mentally.
How did Covid-19 have an impact on your line of work?
For the last two years, I strategically changed my routine and the way I worked -- by that, I mean I made sure I spent more time with myself rather than scheduling strenuous back to back shoots. This enabled me to grow and focus on the kind of work which was more meaningful to me. But, the COVID situation did create a lot of uncertainty for people who are related to our field, since our work cannot be done from home and the shoots require a lot of helping hands. I haven’t been in one yet after the quarantine began, but I’m sure it’ll be difficult to organize a shoot in the traditional way. I, personally, was lucky enough to be involved with work that did not require me to go out. And through that work, I feel I was blessed to be able to create some positive impact, socially.
Do you think staying home with so much negative news around all the time -- on the television and social media, can have impacts on mental health?
I suffered from depression since I was really young, and the toll these things can have on us shouldn’t be overlooked. None of us were ready for this situation, even the fact that people are not being able to go to their work and a financial strain can have a huge impact on their mental health. I might be lucky enough to be able to live off my savings for months, but for those who can’t, especially for daily wage earners, this added burden can have impacts on them mentally, and no one is talking about it. Another thing I should also mention is about the correct use of social media and encouraging other people to do good instead of pulling each other down. Going after people who might not share the same views is also an unhealthy practice many of us should refrain from. All these things affect our mental health even if we don’t realize it at the time.
How do you commit yourself to stay more positive in such a situation like this?
It is important to stay positive, especially in such a situation -- I try to stay active as much as I can through whatever work I can get done from home.
Only a few days ago, you posted a photo on social media (with over 40k likes), saying “Life begins where fear ends.” What do you mean by that and what’s your philosophy behind it?
I’m 36 now, and up until 34 I have always been scared, I feared the reaction of others if I am to talk about something that needs to be addressed, for example, the problem I had with my depression. I had to overcome my fear by facing it head-on -- that’s when I found people around me coming forward to help me cope with it. I believe one must first stand for his/her own rights and fight against all fears before relying on others. I should also add, we should be aware of our rights and where we stand in society. People expect that women should sacrifice their own happiness for others, which I think isn’t right. I realized only a few years ago that I have been doing the same, and that’s something I am trying to change and overcome. I can’t change everyone’s mentality, but I’ll consider myself successful if I can create a positive impact on at least one person.
Do you think quarantine enables working parents to create a stronger bond with their children? Tell us something from your own personal experience.
Well, I think being in quarantine helped us connect with the people around us, not just our families. Also, if I am talking about my daughter -- I have definitely been able to spend more time with her now, since I am a working parent and at the same time, my daughter is always busy with her school and all the extracurricular activities, she’s involved in. I do feel this quarantine helped to create a strong bond.
Tell us a little about the Dove “Self-esteem” campaign -- what made you want to be a part of it?
First of all, I am very grateful to be a part of this campaign amidst this lockdown we were in due to the coronavirus. I really appreciate their work for such an important cause that a lot of us often overlook. I was pleasantly surprised to know Dove has been doing this globally since 2004, educating young children on developing their self-esteem. I personally wanted to contribute to society, which Dove gave me the platform for, with this campaign. The children of today are the future of the society, and the actions we take now will surely have an impact on the societal development in a couple of years down the line. Through this campaign, I also got to learn so much about mental health which I wasn’t aware of before.
What is that one thing you miss the most from your regular life, in this quarantine?
I miss going to the gym! Working out at home is never the same for me. But exercising is something we all have to make sure we do in order to remain healthy.