Exclusive: Layla Akil on why her show هوس الجمال is a tribute to women

We sat down with the influencer and host to discuss female empowerment, cyber-bullying and her show "Perfection 101"
Exclusive: Layla Akil on why her show هوس الجمال is a tribute to women
instagram/@laylaakil

Layla Akil is taking the world of social media by storm. Having been on the scene for over six years, her Instagram has amassed a following of over 76k loving and loyal fans.

Knowing Layla personally, I’ve witnessed firsthand her love and passion for all women. It is clear just how much she genuinely wants to help better the lives of not only the women in the Middle East, but the lives of women all over the world.

View this post on Instagram

To all women: You are beautiful and amazing no matter what you do, what you work, how you look, you are perfect the way you are. Happy international women’s day اليوم دة ابغا أقول لكل امرأة فالعالم اني فخورة فيكي لو ايش ماكانت وظيفتك وطريقة عيشك انا فخورة فيكي .ولكل امرأة عندها أحلام لا توقفي تشتغلي عليهم لانك تقدري ورح توصلي وكل عيد امرأة وكل وحدة فينا احلى نصف فالمجتمع احبكم# #ليلى_عقيل #هللو_حبايبي #هوس_الجمال #مزاج #الامارات #اكسبلور #السعودية #الكويت #البحرين #عمان #العراق #لبنان #سوريا #فلسطين #الاردن #مصر #السودان #الجزائر #المغرب #تونس #ليبيا #يوم_المرأة_العالمي #حبي_نفسك #يوتيوب #احبكم#28infinity

A post shared by Layla Akil (@laylaakil) on

We sat down with Layla to have an unfiltered and raw discussion about female empowerment, cyber-bullying and what it means to be a woman in the world today.

CosmoME: Why don’t we start off with you telling me a little bit about yourself?
LA: Well I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia; Jeddah to be specific. I’ve basically learned everything from them, all of my traditions and culture. I even look like their women! I grew up in a typical Arab household with parents and siblings until my parents got a divorce. It’s only when I moved to Lebanon for university that I began to discover who I really am.

CosmoME: Talk to me about the divorce. How did that affect you?
LA: I was eight when my parents separated. It was really hard because my mother went back to Lebanon and I stayed with my father in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t see her for 13 years.

CosmoME: When did you make the decision to become a public figure?
LA: It was over six years ago, when the trend of social media and influencers was rising. I was following influencers, the same way people follow me now. They used to promote all of these beauty products that were so overpriced and they never worked for me. One day, I decided I was done listening to people. I grew up in a house with five sisters and three brothers. My parents couldn’t always afford to buy us what we wanted. My mother would make us my grandmother’s homemade beauty products. I know what it’s like to want to be pretty but not necessarily have the means for it. And I believe that every woman has the right to feel beautiful. So it was time for me to share my grandmother’s recipes, my experiences and life lessons.

CosmoME: I know you’re an advocate for anti-bullying. Why is it a cause close to your heart?
LA: I was so scared to go public to start with, so it’s safe to say the online bullying didn’t help. I went into a really deep depression; it was bad.

CosmoME: And how did you come out of your depression?
LA: I just decided to stand up for myself and I answered back. I replied to some of the comments asking “What is it you see that you don’t like?” And I noticed that most of the people commenting were just shy and cowardly. They’d respond saying they loved me and all they wanted was my attention. Suddenly, their mean words just faded. This made me realise I wanted to do more than just talk beauty products. I wanted to be a voice for women and in return, give women a voice.

CosmoME: What advice would you give to the women reading this?
LA: Do not believe that all you are worth is the man you marry. This notion that you’re nothing without a man and that you’re labeled a spinster if you’re not married by 27 is preposterous. Women are capable of doing whatever they set their minds to; don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise - parents included!

CosmoME: Do your parents support what you do?
LA: They didn’t at first. They were entirely against this. I grew up in quite a close-minded household. The idea of being out until 4am shooting a video was dishonorable to them. But I stood my ground, I knew what I wanted. I want to be someone women all around the world can look up to. Once I proved them wrong, they became my biggest supporters.

CosmoME: Who do you look up to?
LA: In all honesty? Myself. I helped and believed in myself when no one else would. I picked myself up out of my depression. I taught myself to love and respect myself. I don’t mean this is a cocky way at all, it just took a very long time to build this relationship with myself and I cherish it.

CosmoME: Let’s finish off with your show “Pefection 101” or  "هوس الجمال". What does the show mean to you?
LA: Where do I even begin? This show is everything to me. It is a platform that has allowed me to be as daring, as open and as creative as I want to be. The first episode, I actually jumped out of a plane and I have a fear of heights! Right before I jumped, I told myself I’m doing this for all the women out there. Let’s face our fears together.”

CosmoME: Tell me about your favourite episode.
LA: It’s definitely the one where a makeup artist spent hours turning me into an old lady. I cried when I saw myself in the mirror. I remembered how I was sitting with my mother one day and she told me: “Look at these brown spots on my hand Layla, I’m getting old.” The second I saw myself, I could feel what my mother was feeling. It’s enlightening, but heartbreaking.

View this post on Instagram

نزلت الحلقة التانية من #هوس_الجمال تجربتي اني اشوف نفسي كبيرة فالعمر خلتني افتح عيوني على اشياء اكتر وعلمتني اني اعرف قيمة كل لحظة راحت وكل لحظة بعيشها في حياتي حطيتلكم لينك الحلقة فالبايوكالعادة وروني الحماس بالايموجي دة لا تنسو اللايكات والتعليقات اللي تشجعني اعشقكم يا اروع متابعين فالدنيا #هوس_الجمال #ليلى_عقيل #ثقة_بالنفس #جمال #بشرة #خلطات #خلطات_طبيعيه #الامارات #السعودية #الكويت #عمان #العراق #لبنان #الاردن #سوريا #فلسطين #الجزائر #تونس #المغرب #ليبيا #مصر#بحرين #السودان #احبكم #يوتيوب #يوتيوبر #حبي_نفسك

A post shared by Layla Akil (@laylaakil) on

You can watch Layla's show Perfection 101 on Youtube.