Alizeh Shah, the TikTok star who recently made the switch to TV, has kept her followers happy and well fed with routine content. They, in turn, have become the moral police. When they tried to do the same on a recent post, singer-songwriter Momina Mustehsan was there to knock them down a peg.
Shah uploaded a video to her Instagram, dressed in an elegant pink dress in which she was vibing to a Megan Thee Stallion song, in a popular format for short internet videos.
The video, which now has north of a million views, was captioned “not seeking approval.”
What followed? Trolls, obviously.
Pakistani fans romanticise innocence and it’s apparently all they want to see in their favourite stars. Stars, however, in most cases don’t really try to meet such strange expectations, primarily because the fans themselves have a shabby idea of "innocence" and one can never truly know how to fit their definition of it. They also have the tendency to change that definition at whim.
The same trolls found their way to Shah’s post. “We want the old you back,” was a common sentiment expressed in the comment section. The old her wasn’t a star and not groomed the way she is now to be confident and assertive. They want her to continue being the helpless girl who got famous on the internet. They complained about her hair, urging her to grow it longer again. They wanted her to embrace "modesty", commenting on her choice of clothing, and told her how she’s also become like "the rest of them".
We weren't the only ones to be disgusted with these strange and downright rude comments.
To one user claiming Shah is doing everything (it is unclear what she's doing though) for fame, and has changed, Mustehsan replied saying, “I would respectfully disagree. She’s still the same person, just expressing herself differently.”
“You and I wouldn’t be here on her page if she hadn’t already gained the ‘fame’ you’re implying she changed herself to chase. If anything, I’m sure you guys have made her more than aware of your sentiments towards her choices – yet she’s choosing to be herself,” she wrote.
“Let’s allow people to express themselves, however, they want to. Just like you and I (and everybody else), people evolve. The way we think, feel, look keeps changing and that’s the beauty of life. Extend freedom to receive freedom,” Mustehsan added.
“Food for thought,” she said.
Replying to another comment accusing Shah of offending religion, Mustehsan wrote, “But Islam doesn’t allow us to hurt people either, right? Whatever someone chooses to do with themselves (with no impact on you) is between them and Allah. It’s not on you. But hurting someone — that’s on you.”
“And Allah for sure doesn’t like that, neither can He forgive you for it, unless the person you’ve hurt. Think about it. Let’s focus on our own Aakhirat,” she reasoned.
Women in the entertainment business being criticised for everything under the sun — from what they wear to how they behave, how they carry themselves and the decisions they make — is an unfortunately common occurrence in Pakistan. The "fans" and general public somehow feel they’re in a position to call that out and force them to act the way they want. That is an absurd idea and Mustehsan is not here for it. Neither are we.