Sarees and mental health were both big talking points in this chat with Poppy Jaman OBE, which went on for nearly 2 hours.
A proud saree enthusiast, Poppy is also a leader in the mental health world and community, and is currently CEO of City Mental Health Alliance, an organisation whose mission is to build mentally healthy workplaces. To Poppy, a saree is like a hug, and it also inadvertently became a key feature in a spontaneous social media campaign, Green Sarees for Mental Health.
Our conversation is wide-ranging and starts with us talking about her childhood and teenage years (“a struggle”), her forced marriage, and her subsequent depression diagnosis. We chat about the power of community: how that had saved her in ways back then, and how it still is a prominent feature in her life today.
Somewhere during our chat, Poppy makes a point emphatically, “I'm a 4’11’’ British-Bengali, little tiny brown woman.” Her mission is clear: she wants to be a role model for other women and show them what they can do through what she has done. We talk about not diminishing your achievements, and “being brave, not perfect.”
And as with every enjoyable conversation, we also had several good laughs: about her enormous saree collection (we’re talking hundreds); what it was like rediscovering a letter, 27 years later, that she had written to herself at age sixteen; and about her singing aspirations—a 10-year project, as she calls it!
All pictures courtesy of Poppy Jaman via her Instagram.