Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 27 years old, a native of Sweden, I multitask like mad and I love having a lot of things going on at the same time. If I could describe myself with one word it would probably be ‘flexible’. I’m fine with living anywhere, excited about working in many fields and industries, happy chatting with pretty much anyone. At the same time, I’m pretty stubborn and opinionated. Lena Dunham puts it so well; “I give zero fucks about anything, yet I have a strong opinion about everything.”
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Riyadh, Jeddah and Abha in Saudi Arabia.
What was your childhood like?
I think I was a pretty confused child. I loved hanging out with people who were older than me. I’ve always been uber-social, so I had a lot of friends but no one I genuinely bonded with—belonged everywhere but nowhere..
What was living in Riyadh like?
As a child, growing up within a compound in Saudi Arabia was a very sheltered life—sort of like a long vacation. We couldn’t leave the compound without my dad, and as a girl I wasn’t allowed to bike or eat in front of boys.
Misconceptions about Riyadh/the Middle East?
I think one of the main things is the fact that a lot of people speak about the Middle East living in oppression and needing to be saved. We mistakenly take our Western ideals of what it means to live a good life and we apply it onto others with completely different beliefs and world views.
When and why did you move to India?
I moved to India for a job with the Mahindra Group after graduating from Brown University. I had never been to India, and honestly never had much of a desire to go. But, I’ve always told myself to take the route that scares me. Scary usually means learning, improving, getting over fears and growing as an individual, so I find it a good rule to live by.
What was your first impression of India?
Messy, loud, friendly and welcoming. Life here kicks you in the butt and throws you around, but it also hugs you tight and shares a lot of love when you need it.
What do you love the most about Bombay.
The city has taught me things about myself I never knew before moving here, and for that I am grateful. I also love Bombay for all the opportunities that it gives to those who embrace it.
What don't you love about Bombay?
This city is beautiful, but also such a rough place—it takes a toll on living beings in a way no other place I know does. It can leave me feeling helpless at times, while at the same time it motivates me to be a better person and make the most of my life.
How important is it for girls to support one another?
So important! As a generation growing up in a world of social media it’s easy to preach to love yourself just the way you are—your curves, weaknesses, whatever. Yet we use filters and beautifying tools to get extra likes and followers. There is a mismatch in belief and action here which I think can be really toxic, especially for young girls. By being true to ourselves we’re also helping each other—I try and remind myself of that every day.
Tell us about WAC.
Building on the definition of girl power, WAC is a forum/safe space where women can meet, discuss, motivate, support and share without being judgmental. A place to openly discuss stigma-related topics such as career, relationships, beauty, anxiety and depression.
What inspired you to start WAC.
I started WAC because I think we deserve and need a place for women to gather to exchange experiences, contacts, obstacles and insights. A place to reach out for help but without the feelings of anxiety, prestige or worry. I believe showing vulnerability has a kind of domino effect, and openness inspires openness.
What is feminism to you?
Feminism is the belief that everyone regardless of sex should have equal social, political and economic rights and opportunities. True equality to me is the recognition of the dynamics and qualities each person brings to the table, regardless of gender. Respecting the voices of all.
What do you do for fun?
Write, read blogs and work out. Hang by the pool if its sunny, drink wine at home in good company if its not.
French fries. Potato gratin. Mashed potato. Anything potato.
A Swedish dish Indians would love!
Herring! Just kidding… Meatballs with mashed potatoes, lingonberries, pickled cucumbers and gravy. Yum.
A Swedish tradition you love.
In Sweden having dinner together is a big deal. You cook together, then sit around the table to talk and enjoy the food for hours. Eating for me is as much about the vibe as it is about the food, I love that.
Favourite holiday destination.
Japan! The fashion and food is killer and there’s so much beauty and culture.
What are you looking forward to?
I’ve recently launched my blog platform, hannastromgren.com, which I’m excited about building further. There are also so many exciting things about being three years from 30!
All photos by Tenzin Lhagyal.