Hailey Sani: Her Journey to Empowering Young Women

Culture

Hailey Sani, originally from Turkey, is well known amongst teens for her daily vlogs and TMI girl talk videos.

Many of her fans watch her for insights on different topics ranging from dating to loving your body. Sani continues to inspire her fans worldwide by setting an example for young girls from all different backgrounds and passions.

Transition from Turkey to America

As an immigrant herself, Sani tell us what she thinks is the biggest difference between American and Turkish family structures

“It was the biggest culture shock of my life because I moved sophomore year, smack in the middle of high school mid-semester which is the worst time to move anywhere let alone across the world,” says Sani.

“The family structures and the rules they have for the kids it's so much different from what I have previously experienced. I had the strictest foreign parents, and I had to kind of like teach them how to be more chill. I had to show them my friends- “hey look, everyone is doing it”- and try to explain how “I [would be seen as] weird by not doing [what everyone else was doing].” It was like teaching them the ropes learning the ropes myself. It was a really crazy time for me.”

On immigration- “It was like teaching them the ropes learning the ropes myself.”

— Hailey Sani

Dealing With Islamophobia

With the growing stigma around islamophobia, Sani has experienced discrimination from her past classmates and opens up about her experiences.

Sani personally is not associated with a religion. “The thing is, I am very open about religion, beliefs and faith on my channel. I didn't grow up in a Muslim household. I am not religious myself. My parents aren't religious and I have my view on religion.”

“Obviously coming from a country that is Muslim, the majority of the people practice Islam. Actually, 2 or 3 days ago, I just happened to be driving around Beverly Hills and there was a Trump rally going on. There were people from my high school a part of this Trump rally. They saw me in the car and I guess they believed the stigma around Islam and the stigma around Turkey. They were pounding on the windows of the car and flipping me off. It's scary and really doesn't matter what your individual beliefs are as long as there is that stereotype associated with a religion. It is kind of hard to escape and I think I have been using my platforms to kind of break those stigmas in a way by talking about them. Even though I am not Muslim, I don't want any other person who is Muslim to feel like that because I have viewers from everywhere in the world.”

Finding her Place

Sani understands the hardship her viewers might face when moving to different countries, so she uses her videos as a way to hell people embrace their culture while integrating into another.

“I think when I first moved here, one of the first things I realized was the stigma in the high school I grew up in and the way they would view the Middle East and the surrounding countries. My school has a very big Jewish population and obviously there are cultural conflicts between these groups so it was really relevant in that environment. I tried to deny my culture and that kind of leads you to an identity crisis because the culture, certain customs and the traditions you are brought up with whether you fully practice them or not. They end up becoming part of your identity and I think hiding that or trying to act like it's not there, would make me question who am I or lead me to this dark whole where I am trying to figure out my identity. Once you start accepting yourself for who you are, it is so much easier to be you and figure out who you are and what importance your culture and nationality plays in your identity.”

“I tried to deny my culture, and that kind of leads you to an identity crisis...”

Inspiration for starting your TMI girl talk series?

Many fans turn to Hailey Sani for advice on taboo topics that they would not feel comfortable talking about. Hailey Sani loves helping young girls through podcasts and other projects she takes on.

“I would film TMI videos all the time and because people know that I am very blunt about things on my channel. I say things how it is, and I am not very embarrassed about topics that are taboo.”

Sani is opening up conversations for girls to be more free and open, while feeling accepted.

“So naturally whenever I would post on my story and be like “hey, I am filming a Q and A. Send in questions”- a lot of the questions would come from girls about taboo topics. So, I thought instead of calling this a Q & A, let me turn this into a series with the core purpose of helping people with their girl talk questions. And plus, they're just so fun to film.”

“I say things how it is, and I am not very embarrassed about topics that are taboo.”

The Moment She Knew

So, what was the defining moment that Sani knew YouTube was going to be her career path?

Although Sani can't remember a specific moment of when she knew could live off her income from YouTube, she does have memorable moments and offers that she is grateful to this day.

“I started YouTube before it was my full career. At the time that I started everybody was kind of had the mentality of “Ok. Let's do this and see where it goes” and I was one of those people. I would start getting these offers from brands especially after I moved to the United States. I feel like my videos really got exposed to a more US based audience. Then when these brands reached out to me with numbers that I was like “Oh my god. This is how much someone is getting working a full time job” and was shocked that I could do what I’ve been doing as a hobby. So I turned it into something that I can support my family and myself with. So I guess it was when I got that one big deal.”

YouTube Channel in 3-5 years?

Exclusive Sneak peek:

“Because my girl talk has been performing really well, I am thinking of turning it into a podcast because I love talking and love helping people, but I film my girl talk videos now and then because for a YouTube channel I can't just make it about girl talk, so I want to move that it to its own vertical and have it be a podcast where I am just focused on the girl talk.”

Be on the lookout for an upcoming potential podcast from Hailey...

On Body Image Issues

“It was the fact that I would really work on my body because I hated it. Then instead of thinking about it that way, I flipped my whole perspective where I was like “I am going to work on my body because I love it and I want it to be better.”

On the path, Hailey was also affected mentally.

“Trying to fix a problem with hate has really destroyed my mental health. It is diminishing my confidence so once I did that flip on that perspective, it just became so much easier because when I messed up for example when I was eating really healthy, I would feel guilty. Looking back, that is totally normal because I am human. I tried to punish myself back then and would tell myself “I am not going to eat anything unhealthy.””

“Instead of getting mad at myself. I started to tell myself that it was ok and that it was just one bad meal. I always told myself I can get over this.”

“I think so many other girls are struggling with that same perspective,” says Hailey, “I have already a live podcast on my channel to help girls. I would really recommend anyone struggling with body image issues to listen to that because since it was live and not edited at all, it came from such a raw place of experience. I have gotten such good feedback on that recording from so many people. It really doesn't take much to flip that perspective because once you flip it, it's like every issue gets solved on its own.””

Life After Rejection

Hailey had stated previously that her dream school had been New York University. However, she ended up going to University of California Santa Barbara- on the west coast, far different of the east.

“I took all my anger out in a video so that helped. Whatever you're feeling, allow yourself to feel it because when you bottle it up, it comes out slowly and it hurts more. When you are furious, rant to someone and get it all out. I think you just have to trust the process. I am such a believer in the process now. I am like look, If I had gone to NYU and hadn't gone to UCSB which is where I go, I would have never met my boyfriend, I would have never had such fun memories that took place there.”

Going to UCSB

“I still go to UCSB and have learnt so much from going there. I probably would have learned a lot if I went to NYU too, but I can’t get caught up on things that are out of my control. I think it's all about preserving your energy and putting it into things that you do have control over. What you have to guarantee to yourself is “Did I do everything that I possibly could have that was in my control to get into the school?””

Hailey reflects upon her college journey. “And I did. I worked so hard on my essays and still got wait listed and then ended up committing to UCSB. Because I knew I did everything I could have done, it was a sense of relief in a way. This happened not because of me. It happened for another reason. Trust the process. The universe knows what to throw at you.”

“Trust the process. The universe knows what to throw at you.”

Finding a Balance

So, how does Hailey find a balance amidst everything?

“I have done a lot of meditation. I have been practicing mental health. Journaling as well,” Hailey tells us.

“My balancing is me getting crushed under all my responsibilities because I spread myself out way too thin and it just hurts me at the end. I don't have balancing all figured out, but at this point at least I am aware that something needs to change. I need to start saying no to things and take on fewer responsibilities,” reflects Sani, “I have to accept that I am not like a lot of the other YouTubers who don't go to school, and they have all the time in the world to focus on their videos. I want my videos to be amazing too, but I also want my school work to be amazing. And my education to be amazing. I am not a super human.”

“I don't have balancing all figured out, but at this point at least I am aware that something needs to change.”

10 Quick Q's With Hailey Sani

Get to know Hailey better with these rapid fire questions!

1. After the pandemic is over, where do you want to go first?

Somewhere tropical like Bali. Any place away from the city.

2. What is your favorite country you visited?

The Netherlands. Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities. It's like if America was in Europe. It's the perfect balance.

3. What is your favorite workout routine?

Yoga. I used to do toxic hourglass figure workouts. I don't do any of that anymore

4. What is your zodiac sign and do you align with it?

I am a Libra. During the pandemic, I really got into spirituality and astrology because of one of my friends. Apparently, I am someone that likes to keep the harmony of their surroundings. And it is not fun to be a Libra right now.

5. What is one social issue that you were more a part of?

My city where I was born, Izmir, just went through an earthquake. I wish I was on the grounds. I am helping through social media and reposting information for donations. I wish I could just be there.

6. What is your favorite thing to do in Turkey?

Go to beach clubs.

7. What are your favorite videos to film?

I really like my daily vlogs.

8. What was your favorite thing about moving out?

Because my family has such big personalities, I really wanted my own space. There is a lot of chaotic energy in my parents house. I need my peace and quiet time.

9. If you could shop from only one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?

Revolve but I love thrifting.

10. Go-to outfit?

Sweatpants and a crew neck!

Keep Up With Hailey!

To find Hailey on social media, find her on Instagram at @haileysani, filled with a picture perfect feed.

To Snapchat Hailey, find her at @haileybpl, and subscribe to her Youtube Channel @Hailey Sani if you haven't already!

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Ela Eryilmaz

Ela is a Turkish-American Junior attending High School in Massachusetts. She loves to participate in political campaigns to further her knowledge about social issues. She is the founder of a social enterprise, Next Page, that helps refugees around the world. Ela enjoys learning about international relations, languages, and history.