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Reem Kanj: Breaking free from abstract age brackets

Reem Kanj is known as the founder of Ego&East, a talent management company that she runs alongside her sister Natalya. She is also known as an intentional influencer whose mission is to cultivate good vibes, but most importantly, she is a woman who found her way on her own terms. 

There are unnecessary anxieties that come with navigating society’s demands on your way into your 30’s. We fall into these preconceived age brackets without complaint, and Reem is adamant about proving that you can be independent of this.

Through some of the major experiences of her life, Reem has had to navigate through things that, unfortunately, still carry a social stigma: divorce, being unmarried in her 30’s, and most recently during the pandemic, freezing her eggs

“It was a decision I made so I would never have to settle again, and I would never have to rush into anything based on a body clock,” she says. 

Looking back, she realizes her approach to life has very much been inspired by her great aunt, her very first “expander,” which is a form of manifestation where one realizes their own potential and goals through expanders who inspire them. 

“When I was 16, I went grocery shopping with my great aunt. I’ve never seen anyone only shop for themselves and pay their own bills. I would normally shop with my mom and the trolley would be packed with stuff for the husband, the kids, the house, but my aunt was rolling around, living life, buying things just for her.”

This was a pivotal moment for Reem, instilling within her a deep determination for independence. 

She went on to pursue fashion at the London College of Fashion and graduated right into an economic crisis. She had to create her own opportunities so she became a blogger and was her own boss. 

“I was frustrated but I was never one to wait for someone to give me something, so I created a blog and called it Five Five Fabulous.”

At first, she sought representation from agents, going in with the mindset that “I’m going to have someone in my corner making me the best I can be, and it wasn’t that.”

Ego&East was founded in 2016 in Dubai, and the sibling duo set out to be the opposite of everything they disliked about agents. From the accounts they manage to their feed curation, Reem and Natalya place great importance on substance, fair play, and good intention. 

Even though the idea of influencers now carries some negative connotations, Reem believes influencers do play an essential role in marketing, so it’s about doing it right. 

“It all comes down to substance. There are enough people on the internet, so what are you adding? I am very careful with who I follow because it’s feeding my soul and my brain.”

Consuming content in your particular little corner should be a curated experience, as this not only takes up your time but is your daily dose of subconscious manifestation. We often find ourselves also influenced by friends, family, and other people in our lives.

While Reem really enjoys taking pictures and admits she takes pictures of everything, she is also very conscious of how she portrays herself and how harmful it might be for someone else to absorb so much of a stranger’s life. 

“If I’m feeding you, I want to make sure that you’re being fed something good. I don’t want to just post for the sake of posting, but at the end of the day I’m not out here to save lives, I’m posting me looking nice or a book I’ve read, but I just want to make sure that you don’t leave my page thinking ‘Oh, I don’t feel so good about myself.’”

Due to her years of being self-employed, Reem says she was thankfully prepared for COVID-19, and had the luxury of making quarantine a fruitful time for her personal journey. “I did feel caged at some point, but I felt so liberated from FOMO and societal expectations. I even turned my phone off and kept it off for three days, never in my life will I be able to do that again.”

Following an AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) level test in 2018, Reem was advised by her gynecologist to make a decision about freezing her eggs, and so she took the leap in 2020 following the cleanse that quarantine provided for her both mentally and physically. 

The experience of freezing her eggs is something that was widely and well-received, and she says changed her perception of her body and made her appreciate it all the more. 

“My body makes me grateful to be a woman. When I froze my eggs, the hormones changed my body. I wasn’t training it or feeding it certain things it was changing because it was doing what it needed to do then. It made me so grateful and made me realize I do want to experience pregnancy because it’s such a humbling experience to feel like you’re at the mercy of your body. It’s such a beautiful vessel.”

Looking back at herself in her 20’s, Reem feels protective and empathic towards the version of herself that had to navigate the pressures of society. 

“I learned from my aunt all those years ago, and now more than ever I’m savoring every day. It’s a sensitive topic, but I want society to change the age bracket. I also want to get married and have kids, but why does it have to be at 26? Why would you stunt your growth like that?”

Follow Reem on Instagram: @reemkanj