Yasmine C. M’Barek – On the political frontline

Photo: Yasmine C. M’Barek

“Writer | social & political issues | CGN | yasminembarek.com” That’s what it says on Yasmine C. M’Barek’s Instagram profile. A 20-year-old student of social studies with an emphasis on politics and more than 17,000 followers. Although she would never describe herself as an influencer, she cannot deny her effortless influence on a generation that tends to shy away from politics.

This Interview is from J’N’C N °77

Yasmine, your account really stands out from most of those of your generation, especially in terms of its content. You incorporate fashion and beauty but also mention politics and religion. What made you start your account?
I’m actually a writer with journalistic ambitions. The fact that my account is political is in part down to my studies and general interests having that emphasis. Political work interested me long before Instagram. My opinions on body positivity and my passion for fashion and photos somehow just became intertwined with that because they’re also a part of my identity, and my Instagram account is also a place for me to live out my own creativity.

Many people, especially the younger generation, find it difficult and risky to talk about politics. Where do you get the self-confidence to openly talk about your opinions because, after all, backlash is virtually guaranteed when it comes to such issues?
I think being able to freely express your opinions about politics (and its shortcomings) is a privilege and a must for everyone, especially if you are dealing with it professionally. The backlash comes and goes. But it’s so important for us to raise our voices against populist-dominating majorities, regardless of any grief we might get for doing it. And when it comes to my self-confidence, that was never much of an issue. I was lucky to be able to express my opinion early on in life, which I am sure is what gives me the ‘power’ to voice them on social media.

“I started in order to express my opinion and to point out what I consider to be shortcomings in our society.”

What do you want to achieve or who do you want to reach with your account?
I don’t have any specific target group but it’s easiest to reach those who are interested in politics. I think everyone should have an active interest in politics. There are few places in the world where having a say in the political process is such a natural right. That’s why, although this might sound a bit odd, I’d like to reach everyone, people from all walks of life, because politics affects us all. What I want to achieve with my account – that’s not really a question I ask myself, because I started with it in order to voice my opinion and to attract attention to the grievances that I see around me. There isn’t one ultimate goal in my sights. But I do want to network and learn and I’m doing that constantly – thanks to Instagram. I never thought I would get to know as many fantastic people as I have on Instagram.

What does being an influencer mean for you?
I would never (!) describe myself as an influencer. My political and journalistic work simply spilled over into social media and helped me to exchange opinions and be able to voice my thoughts to a somewhat larger audience. The fact that growing follower numbers also bring a certain level of responsibility is something I am very conscious of, but that’s why it’s important for me to always show that all these analyses are my own opinions. But I do enjoy connecting with like-minded people.

What do you think of Instagram as a tool?
I think it’s very helpful and also risky at the same time. Just as my opinions can quickly gain an audience, people with right-wing ideologies or distorted and normative stereotypes can also use it to find their own followers. That’s certainly something that we should keep in mind. But in the era of (very) slowly advancing digitalisation, Instagram, from a professional perspective, is an increasing important tool, for which I’m very grateful.

Have you ever cooperated with brands or companies?
Yes, with fair fashion label Womom, which conveys really important messages and my type of aesthetic. It happened spontaneously. Generally, I turn down all offers because none of them have so far appealed to my slightly anti-capitalist way of thinking. Nor is it my aim to use my account for advertising, get things for free or earn money.

Despite that, you are very successful on Instagram. What do you think the future holds for you? Perhaps a role in politics?
At the moment my aim is still definitely to work in journalism. But I’ll continue combining that with social media because the connections and networking it offers are simply the future. But I could certainly imagine getting into politics later on, even working in a ministry. I’m especially interested in foreign policy. In these fast-moving times I think it’s better not to pin yourself down. I like to keep different avenues open. But I’m sure of one thing: the future will definitely be political.