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Safiyah Mac, Tumblr’s princess turned badass mom

To some people Safiyah Mac is a friend, sister, and mother, but to one internet generation she is easily known as one of the most recognizable girls from Tumblr; Another teen who grew up on the internet and hit the streets of New York City to meet online friends. For this Mother’s Day we are honoring Safiyah Mac, a badass mom who will always be that girl from Tumblr.

Interview by Lexx @vanna.blac with Safiyah Mac @safiyahmac

How can you describe the feeling of being a part of an internet phenomenon that shaped a generation of city-wide creatives? Do you think something like this could happen again for future generations, or is mass internet gatherings a thing of the past?
Oh wow, that’s a goody. Well, I feel like it was just normal. It was my life at the time, but now when I look back at it, I think, “Wow.. I really did the craziest shit as a teen.” I feel like if the internet had a history book, I’d be in it. Honestly, I feel like it wouldn’t be a part of the internet culture now. I think when we were on Tumblr, it was really all fun and games. We had no idea that this is what “fame” felt like. I just feel like it’s too cliquey and out of control now. It’s like actual fame now, to the point where bodyguards are needed for these internet stars vs when Tumblr was around, we were kids just being kids. We had no idea the impact we really had on people.

A lot of us have grown up online and had to learn to accept (or hate) our most vulnerable moments shared with the world. Do you think you had it more difficult being popular online as a teenager? How did it affect you the most?
It was definitely more difficult for me. Tumblr was like my diary and I had no idea how popular I was at one point and it backfired. I realized that I couldn’t just openly say what I want or how I felt because it’ll affect me in the long run. Everyone knew my business. People I didn’t even know and that’s tough as a young woman, you know? It made me feel like I couldn’t be myself because everyone was watching. So I had to be “l0vesaf” and not so much Safiyah. Like, don’t get me wrong, l0vesaf is an extension of who I am, feel me?

The teens of Tumblr have grown up to be moms, dads, and even celebrities. Do you keep in touch with some of your online friends from Tumblr? Would you ever be a part of a reunion?
I literally always say all the time that I would be down for a reunion! That I should host the biggest, most epic party EVER. Let’s make it happen! But, I’m in touch with a lot of people I met on Tumblr. Probably not super close like I used to be but still in the loop. People grow up and grow apart but will forever be apart of my life in a huge way.
It’s no secret that through the hardships of growing up online and sharing things like past relationships for the world to judge, you have blossomed on the other side with the birth of your first child. What has it been like for you to transition into becoming a mom?
I went from roaming the city, taking photos, and doing hella random shit to diapers, Barbies, and baby shark. I always wanted to be a mom. Like, if I was to be asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would have said, “a mom”. A’maya is my greatest accomplishment of all time. Being a mom is tough, don’t get me wrong. I had a really really tough time transitioning. I knew it was gonna be hard but not as hard as it was. I barely did anything in the first year of A’maya’s life. I truly lost myself the first year of being a new mom. I didn’t know who I was anymore, what I wanted, or how I was going to obtain it. Everything felt so out of reach. But as the months passed, I got the hang of it. Everything felt organic to me. It was a tough road to walk but now, A’maya and I are skipping hand and hand down the same road. Kids today are growing up with TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. They are a new generation experiencing internet fame in a whole new way. If you could give advice to them today, from your experiences, what would you say?
KEEP YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS, YOUR BUSINESS. I’m still learning that till this day. I may not be super duper popular like I used to be but people still check on me. They still follow me. It’s not a good feeling when everyone knows your business or it’s all on the internet for everyone to see. You gotta keep your “internet persona” and YOU, separate. Some things are better left unsaid or talked about in private. You gotta have a balance when it comes to the internet and reality. Today, we can see you’re an avid Disney World adventurer and a former student at Paul Mitchell School in Orlando for makeup. Who is Safiyah today and what are her dreams?
Who is Safiyah today? Wow, I don’t know if I can answer that cause I’m still kinda figuring it out. I just kinda go with the flow and whatever follows with follow, you know? I’m really just your average mom. My kid is my best friend. We do everything together. I think in the near future I wanna open up a small studio to do lashes, maybe get back into youtube. But again, who knows? It changes everyday.

Everyone has been adjusting to our “new normal” with the effects of COVID-19, how are you practicing self care during this time and how are you sharing these moments with your daughter?
A’maya and I spend our days playing with barbies, watching Disney POV of rides, and reenacting Disney movies. Sometimes we’ll make Tik Tok’s cause, you know, I’m hip lol. Sometimes, we have little spa days. But for myself, I’m actually able to take long showers ALONE. Sounds so minuscule, but other mom’s who read this will definitely understand lol. What advice would you give to creatives who are experiencing doubt and energy-depletion during these times?
Don’t give up. Corny as hell, I know. But it’s true. I understand that everyone is feeling down and out about the cards we’ve been dealt right now. But just remember that as long as you keep yourself in routine, even though you’re still in the house, it’s still some type of structure as if the world was still open. If you keep lazy and unmotivated, you’ll fall deeper and deeper, and getting back out is gonna be way harder.


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Masculine, feminine film series by photographer Milo Alterio

Vintage Game of Two by photographer Jevgenia Leenurm