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We’ve been endlessly obsessing over Mahira Khan’s visit to the Cannes Film Festival over the last 5 days. While most of the country and TV/film/fashion fraternity has been elated over the milestone, there have been voices of critique and in some cases, bitter disapproval.

Truth is that no matter what Mahira wore or how she looked, it would have been literally impossible to please everyone. It usually is impossible to please everyone and so you go with the opinion of those who matter.

Truth also is that Mahira’s presence at Cannes meant more than how she looked and what she wore, though Instagram feeds would have you believe otherwise. This was a groundbreaking moment; a popular Pakistani female actor had made it to the international stage and she was making Pakistan proud. People living in first world countries still wonder whether Pakistan has roads and wifi and whether the women of Pakistan are allowed to show their face in public. Imagine the kind of image Mahira Khan portrayed when she stepped out in Cannes in that Blumarine off shoulder lavender dress. Her natural hair and makeup, gentle smile and sun-kissed face was exactly the kind of face one feels proud of sending out as Pakistan’s best. The best thing is that in every outfit, in every picture, you could see that Mahira was being herself. She was not posing as someone else. To critics I’d like to ask, can they think of anyone better?

Credit goes to Musharaf Hai (who’s been a trailblazer since day one) and L’Oreal Paris Pakistan for putting their faith and muscle behind Mahira and in turn, putting Pakistan on the global map as L’Oreal Paris Pakistan’s official spokesperson for Hair Care. Sure, it’s not the same as being a global L’Oreal Brand Ambassador (as are Aishwarya Rai and Sonam Kapoor, for example) but it’s one step towards it. Here’s to seeing a Pakistan Pavilion at Cannes one day!

Mahira got back to Pakistan yesterday and wrote out this heartfelt letter about her trip…


I think that the most important message here, amongst all acknowledgement, is the message of women supporting others.

“As I sat in the car on my way to the airport I realised I felt more empowered than ever before. And the reason was because of the amazing women that I met over the last three days. All these talented women had one thing in common – they lift each other up. They were supportive and kind. They had each other’s backs.”

The bottom line is that if we want to continue elevating ourselves on a global stage; if we want our voices to be heard, then we have to have each other’s back. Women, more than anyone else, should understand that.

  • L’Oréal Paris Pakistan Hair Care Spokesperson Mahira Khan photographed at Cannes Film Festival. Mahira Khan wears Italian brand Blumarine, with earrings by Zohra Rahman and rings by Maanesten, styled by Amar Faiz and photography by Shakeel Bin Afzal.