Juggun Kazim has done it all: motherhood, entrepreneurship, acting, hosting and vlogging. This fortnight she speaks to Mehek Raza Rizvi about balancing her personal and professional life, and all that sheâ€™s planned for the future
You have three beautiful children. How different was each experience, both pregnancy and postpartum?
Yes, I have three biological children and two from my husbandâ€™s previous marriage, so a total of five children. As far as the biological children are concerned, each pregnancy and postpartum experience was very different.
I had my firstborn, Hamza, when I was very young. Heâ€™s fifteen now. It was a tough pregnancy because I was in an abusive marriage, but beyond that, as far as physical discomfort is concerned, my pregnancy was a breeze; I was very active and constantly working. Up until the last two weeks before delivering, I didnâ€™t even realise I was pregnant. I had a C-section, but recovered from postpartum pretty quickly as well.
My second-born, Hassan, is four, while Noor, my daughter, is eight months, so they came along much later in life. A year before Hassan was born, I had a miscarriage and went through a really tough time coping with my loss. It really sent me through a spiral of emotions. I was very upset, so naturally when I conceived again, I was excited, but also overly cautious. In terms of that, pregnancy for the second time was strange and complicated, but precious. Also, when I was expecting Hamza, I only gained 10-12kgs, but when I was pregnant with Hassan, I put on almost 30 kgs, which was crazy. Postpartum recovery this time around was also tougher. With Noor, pregnancy was difficult again. I was put on bedrest and also gained about 35 kgs, so even more than before!
Each pregnancy is different and comes with its own set of challenges, but I wouldnâ€™t change anything. Iâ€™ve been through a total of five pregnancies (one miscarriage each before Hassan and Noor), so while the experience can be difficult, I have to admit that having children is the biggest joy in the world. I feel very grateful for all my childrenâ€”the ones I gave birth to and the ones I got through marriage. Itâ€™s amazing being a parentâ€”an indescribable feeling. There are days when I look at them: oneâ€™s jumping on a bed, the others running around, another is cryingâ€”and Iâ€™m just in awe thinking I made these little humans.
Weight stigma directed at pregnant and postpartum women is extremely alarming. How does one tackle it?Â
The weight stigma is directed towards every woman and every man. Pretty much every human it seems is first noticed for gaining or losing weight, which is not just infuriating, but also very offensive. We need to create awareness regarding this hurtful behaviour. Itâ€™s not okay for some aunty to come and tell you that youâ€™re looking bigger or a friend to make apologetic statements. Itâ€™s important to make those around you realise that itâ€™s not okay to be nasty about someone elseâ€™s body or inquire about their weight. Like I said in one of my YouTube videos, Iâ€™m all for people leading healthy lifestyles and losing/gaining if necessary. However, even someone like me who works out twice a day and is quite particular about her diet put on 30/35 kgs during pregnancy. Everyone has their own journey and making someone feel bad about it, especially when theyâ€™re pregnant, with their hormones all over the place, is just horrible. In fact, even if someone is in an otherwise great space, commenting on their weight is not acceptable. This is something very personal. Part of why I had severe postpartum depression after Hassan and Noor was because of the amount of people commenting on my weight and body. It was really upsetting.
How does your upbringing influence the way youâ€™re raising your kids?
I think everyoneâ€™s upbringing does influence how they raise their own children. I learned good mannerisms and etiquette from my parents, including how to speak to or address my children. My father was extremely particular about being respectful towards elders: how to greet them, standing up in respect when they enter a room, offering your chair, etc. This learning has stayed with me, and I try to inculcate it in my kids.
However, one thing that had a negative impact on me as a child, I feel, is the fact that I came from a broken home. My parents got divorced when I was very young. The fights and arguments that led to them parting ways used to really disturb me, which is why my husband Faisal and I are very conscious about never arguing in front of our children. Of course, itâ€™s natural and normal to have disagreements with your spouse, but we never have them in the presence of our kids.
Thereâ€™s also no concept of violence in our family. Itâ€™s not okay to scream at or hit a child, no matter how frustrated you may be. Weâ€™re very mindful of that.
Another pressure I felt as a child, that Iâ€™d never want my children to have, is being an academic. I let things be a bit more fluid with them. I try being as accommodating as possible and provide them with the support they need, but do not believe in burdening them with unnecessary stress. The most important thing for me is to raise good human beings, who are kind, healthy and stable.
I guess Iâ€™d say that my parenting is influenced partly by what I learnt from my parents and partly by what I learnt from life myself. At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters to me is seeing my children happy.
Working mothers continue to face a number of obstacles in balancing their dual roles. How do you cope?Â
Working mothers have always faced obstacles and Iâ€™ve been no exception. The biggest issue is the attitude of those around us. Constant scrutiny, criticism and questions like â€œwonâ€™t the kids get neglected?â€ â€œhow will you manage?â€ etc. can really get to you. Iâ€™m lucky to have a good support system which includes the help at home, along with a supportive familyâ€”thereâ€™s no way I wouldâ€™ve been able to work so much again without it, but itâ€™s still hard sometimes. Judgmental behaviour is very hurtful.
The other major issue is the constant mom guilt. My career is important to me and Iâ€™m solely pursuing it because of my passion now, but Iâ€™m constantly worrying about rushing back home to my children. How do I cope? By taking it one day at a time. Thereâ€™s no set formula that I know of, but if some does, please share it with me.
We love your YouTube channel and how real you are. Where do you, however, draw the line in terms of sharing your private life?Â
When I created my YouTube channel, I was only hosting morning shows. Thereâ€™s a slight limitation in morning shows about how honest or straight up you can be about a strong opinion you hold or an issue close to your heart. Youâ€™re the host, you canâ€™t make it all about yourself.
With my YouTube channel, I wanted to create a platform for dialogue; a place where I could talk about things like fat-shaming, abusive relationships, etc. and interact with my audience through the comment section. Soon people started asking for videos for skincare and my lifestyle, so it was all very organic.
Regarding my private life, Iâ€™ve done a house tour and that videoâ€™s views are in millions! Having said that, I only go as far as Iâ€™m at ease. I donâ€™t share absolutely everything, nor do I think I ever will. Thereâ€™s a very clear line that I draw. For example, youâ€™ll very rarely see pictures of my daughter.
A lot of people think they know me well, but there are many sides to me most are unaware of. Iâ€™m actually a very private person and the maximum youâ€™ll ever get to know me is through my YouTube channel.
Do your kids know youâ€™re famous? If yes, how do they react to it?
Hamza definitely knows Iâ€™m famous and likes to take advantage of that sometimes too. Heâ€™ll say things like, â€œYou know my mama is Juggun Kazim, right?â€ and I have to tell him not to say such stuff. Hassan and Noor, however, are too young to realise it. Noor especially, as sheâ€™s only eight months.
Hamza was much more aware because I used to take him to sets with meâ€”I was a single mom at that timeâ€”so he definitely knew. I remember, when I would smile for a picture, heâ€™d strike a pose too. There was also a bit of jealousy if we were ever out and someone asked for a picture. Heâ€™d grab my arm and say â€œNo mama!â€ so I had to politely refuse. I think heâ€™s handled it pretty well though and Iâ€™m curious to see how his younger siblings will take it, that is if Iâ€™m still famous by the time they grow up.
Congratulations on your newly launched skincare brand! Tell us more about Nur and where the inspiration came from.Â
Noor is my daughterâ€™s name: Syed Noor Bano Naqvi. I love the name Noor, itâ€™s always been a favourite. It means heavenly light. Itâ€™s common to compliment someone on their beauty in Urdu by saying thereâ€™s noor on their face; thatâ€™s how everyone wants to look. So I feel thatâ€™s the inspiration behind the name of my skincare line: NUR by Juggun Kazim.
The idea to start this venture came after constant comments on my skincare videos on YouTube. So many people used to say that I should create my own products based on the tips and totkas I shared. These are all things that have existed in the Subcontinent since centuries. Iâ€™ve basically just taken natural, organic combinations of herbs etc. and put them together. This is a pure labour of love. The products arenâ€™t expensive, as Iâ€™ve tried keeping it as affordable as possible.
The response Iâ€™ve gotten is phenomenal. Weâ€™re online right now, but will be available in stores in a few weeks too.
We hear weâ€™ll be seeing you act very soon. How does it feel to be back at it after a five-year hiatus?
Yes, Iâ€™ve already shot a couple of projects recently. I did a short film for Sohail Javed and now Iâ€™m working on a web series with a very renowned director and writer; Iâ€™m not at liberty to reveal more about this as of now, but it should be out in a few months. Iâ€™m also going to be seen in a telefilm for Eid on ARY.
I didnâ€™t think this would happen again though. The reason why I put my acting career on hold was because I wanted to focus on family, of course, but also because I was so sick of the stereotypical roles I was being offered. I was either the innocent girl who was treated badly, or I was the English-speaking negative character, who was rude to everyone. It was getting too boring. Iâ€™m happy to have started acting again, though, because thereâ€™s really good work being produced now. My morning show is also scheduled to start this Eid on A-Plus, but Iâ€™ll be acting a lot more as well. Thereâ€™s a film in the pipeline too and while I canâ€™t say more on that, there is definitely a film thatâ€™s being worked on. Lots of really exciting things happening, so life is good! The kind of love and encouragement Iâ€™m getting is overwhelming.
Photography: Rizwan Baig at Deevees
Makeup: Munazza Rizwan at Deevees
Wardrobe: ReÃ©se, Vanya, Anaya by Kiran Chaudhry