Who is Sanah Jivani?
Bald, bold and beautiful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg that doesn’t even fully begin to capture how remarkable Sanah Jivani really is. Diagnosed as a toddler with a hair loss condition called Alopecia, Jivani discovered early on that embracing ‘the power of being natural’ was her best answer to whatever insecurities she felt and she has made it her lifelong mission to help others do the same. So on February 13th (yes, the day before Valentine’s Day), celebrate being natural and love yourself on this international holiday that Jivani founded called Natural Day (of course!). It’s all part of her non-profit, Love Your Natural Self (LYNS) Foundation – started when she was in the ninth grade and made the life-changing decision to stop wearing her wig and start a global movement instead. Jivani has become a sought after popular speaker at various events on this topic and also now sits on the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. As part of Sava360’s exclusive ‘Day In the Life Of’ series, we are thrilled to chat with Jivani about some of the future goals and aspirations she has for herself not to mention everyone else she empowers along the way.
[S360]: I’m sure you get asked this quite a bit, but how did you get the courage and drive to start this movement at such a young age? Was there any one incident that was a key turning point?
[SJ]: I remember the pain I was in when I lost my hair. It’s like when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see one beautiful thing about myself… I just couldn’t. I never want anyone to have to go through what I did alone. That is what gives me the courage to drive this movement. If I could just help one person going through what I went through, then all of this is worth it.
At the beginning, it was hard to stay motivated to run a non-profit while balancing my role as a full-time student. There was one moment, however, that changed my life. It was truly a turning point and it continues to push me forward everyday. I was online looking at the “#NaturalDay” posts on social media. I smiled as I scrolled through various selfies of bravery and courage. I saw one post that particularly touched me – it was a young girl in the seventh grade who went without her wig after losing all of her hair to Alopecia. The seventh grade is when my hair loss escalated as well. I just remember feeling so alone at that time in my life… I’m glad that young girl had the #NaturalDay movement to support her. Stories like that keep me motivated and push me to keep going.
[S360]: Tell us a little about your non-profit foundation, LYNS, and how it has evolved over the past few years. What’s surprised you the most?
[SJ]: My non-profit started with the simple idea of “Natural Day.” I wanted to give people a day to open up and share their story. I decided to host a Natural Day at my high school. The response I got was absolutely overwhelming in the best way. My peers took the message of Natural Day to heart. Everyone let go of something on that day, and we became stronger as a campus. I knew I had to bring this message to other schools.
From one school to thirty, Natural Day started growing at a surprising rate. I wanted to provide schools with the tools and resources to host Natural Day for free. I spent all of my savings on this movement, and I knew it was time to start raising funds and thinking about the future of my movement. For these reasons, I was motivated to create a non-profit organization. Since I have a non-profit, I am better able to collect donations, apply for grants, and truly do everything I can to keep this movement running.
The biggest surprise, as mentioned, was just the quick growth of my organization. It all started off as a dream and an idea. It came to life on its own. It’s been such a crazy journey, and I’m grateful to be leading this movement!
[S360]: You have inspired and continue to inspire a lot of people – young and old. Who or what inspires you on a daily basis?
[SJ]: My mom is my biggest inspiration. She has sacrificed a lot to make sure I am happy. She believes in me even when I can’t believe in myself. At a young age, she was put into an arranged marriage and forced to let go of her education, her home, and everything she knew and understood. She overcame her fears, however, and pushed to give me the life she never had. She’s taught me to never take anything for granted and to always approach situations with grace and love.
[S360]: How did you come to be a part of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board? What has being a part of a group like that meant to you?
[SJ]: The application process was pretty rigorous. It consisted of several short essays, two recommendations, and finalist interviews. When I found out I was selected as one of only thirty young adults in all of the United States, I couldn’t believe it. When I first walked into the room and met my fellow board members I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, I so don’t belong here.” I now realize that each of us bring something unique to the board. I’ve already learned so much and I have only been to one meeting- I have six more meetings to go, and so much more to learn!
[S360]: You’ve already accomplished so much at such a young age. Do you have specific career goals that you’re working towards?
[SJ]: I hope to continue to dedicate my life to service. To me, success is measured by the number of lives I am able to impact. In terms of a career, I would love to continue public speaking and someday publish a book. For now, I am double majoring in communications and sociology and focusing on making my college experience full of adventure.
I am also currently tackling two internships with my studies: an editorial job at HelloFlo and a social media intern at Gobie. I hope that this hard work and dedication to service will someday change the world!
[S360]: We’re pretty sure you’re already changing the world and have no doubt you will continue to do so!
[S360]: Must do morning beauty routine?
[SJ]: Every morning, I must look in the mirror and say to myself, “You are beautiful. You are worthy. Today, you will be the best version of yourself and that is enough.”
[S360]: Must check app?
[SJ]: Most of my friends say that they no longer use Facebook, but I love it! I love seeing a little bit of everything on my newsfeed- pictures, videos, text posts, news. I can’t help but scroll through my newsfeed every morning when I wake up.
[S360]: Favorite platform you use to express yourself?
[SJ]: Instagram. I love pictures. I am always the friend who makes everyone stop so we can “document the moment.” I just think it’s so powerful to capture a moment!
[S360]: Selfie or selfless?
[SJ]: Can my answer be both? I think it’s so important and totally great to take a selfie and celebrate yourself, but being selfless should also be embedded in your everyday life!
[S360]: We’re impressed – you found a way to combine selfies AND selfless! Nicely done!
[S360]: Favorite time of the day?
[SJ]: Mornings! Sunshine warms my heart and brings a smile to my face!
[S360]: What is your must-read inspirational blog?
[SJ]: Right now I’m loving my dear friend Mandy’s blog. I’m co-hosting a self-esteem challenge throughout the year – 2016 – with her. You can check out her blog and the “Celebrate Yourself Challenge” here.
[S360]: Favorite cable/tv/streaming show?
[SJ]: This changes a lot. Currently, my favorite show is “Switched at Birth.” I love the dynamic of the show and I also love that they’re able to tackle such important issues.
[S360]: Favorite book?
[SJ]: East of Eden by John Steinbeck will always be one of my all time favorites. My favorite books growing up, that still hold a special place in my heart, are books by Natasha Friend. She has an amazing trilogy for teens that really helped me through middle school. Fun Fact: I wrote her a letter telling her I wanted to be an author someday, and she replied with an un-edited version of one of her books and a letter!
[S360]: Song you live your life by?
[SJ]: Fight Song by Rachel Platten. I jam to it all day, everyday!
[S360]: Full night’s sleep or sleep is for the weary?
[SJ]: I will admit, I spend a lot of late nights catching up on work. I do believe in the term “beauty sleep” however, and I think that each individual should take care of their mind and body by giving it the rest it deserves!
This story originally appeared on SAVA360.