One Joint With Sanam Sindhi
Sanam Sindhi first came into the public eye when Rihanna Insta-scouted her in 2015 to co-star in the controversial music video for “Bitch Better Have My Money.” From Rihanna’s Instagram search (and a subsequent follow) to BBHMM, and since its release, Sindhi has amassed 140,000 Instagram followers. From that following, a gaggle of side hustles has developed (including a radio show on NTS, DJ gigs, casting, modeling, creative direction…) Her clout has also led to the manifestation of Sindhi’s first “big girl” office job at Jeffrey Campbell, where she is tasked with re-crafting the brand’s image through media relations and creative direction, a job Sindhi, who dropped out of high school at 17, wouldn’t likely have without her presence on the internet. Sindhi’s trajectory is a sign of a very specific time.
Alyssa Shapiro: What’s your relationship with weed?
Sanam Sindhi: I’ve been smoking since I was 14. It always gave me mad anxiety and made me super nauseous. When I lived in Seattle I started smoking weed again and I was like, ‘Oh shit, I love weed!’ Because I wasn’t smoking mids and street weed anymore. It was hella good.
I don’t smoke other people’s weed. I also don’t smoke weed during the day. Tuesdays and Saturdays are my big weed days, because Sunday is a chill day for me, so I can smoke a shit ton of weed on a Saturday night. I know I have a whole day to recover. I know Wednesday is a chill day at the office, so I can smoke a little bit of weed on a Tuesday before I go to bed. And I prefer vape pens, which are not as cute as holding a joint.
AS: What’s going on in your life right now?
SS: I don’t have the emotional capacity to accommodate people being in love with me. I have a lot of good sex with a lot of people. I don’t want anything more than that right now. I spent my entire adult life in serious relationships. My last relationship was super abusive and fucked up. I got out of that relationship and that was the first time in my life I truly enjoyed being alone, and came to know myself, and saw myself for the first time.
My marriage was very abusive and I really fucking fell apart, I had no sense of myself, and was hella addicted to Xanax. I was an alcoholic. Spiraling so hard. This is what I expected coming out of my recent relationship, I thought, 'I’ve been here before and I know what it looks like. It looks like a lot of drugs and being miserable.' But good things started happening because I was valuing myself for the first time in my life and putting myself first. People think that I’m very cold and inaccessible, but really I’m a very generous giving person, and I have to close that part of myself off in order to not be taken advantage of.
Even on Instagram, I give people an inch and they take a mile. I get hella messages every day, people who feel entitled to my time and energy. Motherfuckers want me to be their therapist, their life coach, their best friend, and I’m not available for that. But there have been times where I’ve tried to do that for people and they take it too far.
AS: Do you think Instagram had a bigger impact on your life than it has for most people?
SS: Instagram is a whole mess but yes it did change my life. People don’t realize that when Rihanna found me, my 10,000 followers felt like a huge deal. At the time, I worked at a plant store and made like $10 an hour. In Instagram culture, you have to be doing five million things. How do you even survive doing one job? It’s not viable in 2018; no one pays you enough to make ends meet. But there’s so much more space now to pursue the things you want to do. I couldn’t do any of the things I’m doing without my visibility on the internet. And I couldn’t have done this 10 years ago.
A lot of people have been like, ‘oh you’re a wash, what did you even do after the Rihanna video?’ and I’m totally fine with people not knowing what I do or who I am or why I have so many Instagram followers. Don’t worry about it. l I’m working, I’m making money, I’m staying cute, I’m minding my business. I’m working on myself and being a good person and being happy.
AS: What work do you want to pursue, given the platform you have?
SS: I’m doing with taste stuff I actually want to do, stuff that is putting money in my pockets and flowing money through my community. There are a lot of brown and black people out here who are not getting paid in [the fashion] industry. My prerogative is to make sure money goes into those people’s pockets. I’m a facilitator. That’s what I do. Money, jobs, sponsorships. I’m very privileged to be where I am, and it’s been a complete 180 in the last six months. Last January is when I got out of that relationship and had $8 in my bank account with no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to go.
AS: Do you remember what you wanted to do for work when you were growing up?
SS: The first thing I remember wanting to be was a stripper. I don’t even know where I learned about sex work in general, but I’ve been a pretty hyper-sexual person since I was a kid.
AS: Were there examples around you who you admired?
SS: No. I always held sex workers in a very high regard. I understood that these are people that deserve respect. It’s not that fucking hard to respect women, and it’s not that fucking hard to respect sex workers.
AS: Do you feel like you have a responsibility to communicate respect for sex workers because of your platform?
SS: It’s hard for me to be around people who need to be taught to respect women. It’s not my fucking responsibility to teach people how to be better at life.