SOUTH ASIANS | More Than Just 'The Oppressed'

As part of a minority group in this country, it's very easy to find yourself getting bogged down and really negative about life. And...

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As part of a minority group in this country, it's very easy to find yourself getting bogged down and really negative about life. And I must confess, I myself have been guilty of this at times, because in reality, there are a lot of negative things we have to deal with as South Asians, whether that's from within our own communities or from external forces.

I think it's really important to try not to lose sight of all of the great things about being Asian though, this has always been my approach in life - make the most of what you have. For every negative part of our culture, or negative external force, there are hundreds of equal and opposing great things about our culture and positive external forces.

The outside world tend to view South Asians through a bit of a weird lens - we all love curry, we have nice clothes, our weddings are huge and we're subdivided into 'good' or 'bad' based on some unwritten metrics and logic that nobody really seems to understand. But as South Asians, we're a heck of a lot more than just cuisine, fabric and extravagant nuptials. We're people. And in reality, we're not actually all that different from the mainstream at all. Sure, we rarely have blonde hair or blue eyes and more often than not, we're darker in skin tone, but other than that, we have pretty similar hopes, dreams, styles and tastes.

It would be nice if South Asians could be recognised for things that are not stereotypically associated with being a South Asian thing - for example, I'm pretty certain there's a South Asian chef out there who can rustle up something other than a stonking good Tikka Masala. I'm certain there are South Asian designers who are coming up with super rad clothes that aren't Saris and I'm certain there are South Asian actors out there who can play, y'know, normal people, not just terrorists.

Something I've noticed recently is the online South Asian community has had an increase in a certain type of person who is all too quick to highlight the negatives (granted, there are many) yet don't seem to recognise any of the positives at all. And these people are starting to make a name for themselves, because it appeals to the majority - "Look, here's someone willing to speak out about the ills of their communities, aren't they brave?"

Well actually, I'm not so sure about that. For the most part, it feels to me as if they're looking for a bit of fame, notoriety and to become an unofficial spokesperson for South Asians, yet they don't really add anything to the conversation, simply overstating facts we're already aware of. This new breed are more interested in themselves than their fellow South Asians, everything they talk about or write about relates solely to their own experiences, and dismisses or ignores everyone else's. 

I see bravery as taking on the negative aspects of your community, and showing them that things don't have to be the way they've always been. Bravery is doing your own thing regardless of what your community thinks about you. It's standing up on your own two feet and taking responsibility for your actions and still making something of yourself, whilst making a positive difference to your community. These are the people I have most respect for.

I'm talking about people like Momtaz who has an incredible sense of style and self expression that seems to pay no heed to cultural norms, or Maryam Sofia who is an incredibly talented makeup artist creating kickass Avant Garde looks, and the terrible twosome Areeba and Noor, very talented artistes with a big social media presence - and a blossoming career advertising coffee. ;)

These are just a few examples of women who don't conform to the typical stereotypes of South Asians, they don't restrict or constrain themselves by what their communities see as acceptable, they are each very different and unique, challenging perceptions of what it really means to be South Asian.

Also noteworthy is Burnt Roti magazine from Sharan Dhaliwal - a space bringing together South Asians with a vast array of talents that the outsider may not necessarily associate with us. Why not? Because we are mis-represented in the media as it is, and the serial complainers only really add to that misrepresentation. It's statements like: "Oh girls aren't allowed to do that in your culture are they?" that really start to piss me off:

"Seriously, what the fuck do you know about my culture?!"

And these are the sorts of negative and ignorant attitudes towards our culture that are now being exacerbated and perpetuated by those complainers. Seriously, it's more a case of 'Woe is me' than 'Help me change my culture and educate my community', and frankly, it's boring.

That being said, I certainly don't think people on the receiving end of any of the negative aspects ought to suffer in silence, far from it, it just means if you want to move forward in life, balance out the good and the bad of your community, step up and challenge it through actions, not just through words. Words will only ever appeal to those with little to no understanding of our culture, and will paint us all with that negative brush.

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I guess all of this inspired me to create today's makeup look, something that shows off a little bit of South Asian culture, but then takes it a little outside of the norm too. I used some of my favourite bright purples and pinks for the eye shadow, before adding in some henna detailing to the tip of the winged eyeliner. Henna is one of the many great things about our culture, so I'll take any excuse to build it into a look! The only downside is that I can't apply it freehand, so I use stencils instead. #DesiHack

// FACE //

Illamasqua Skin Base - 12
LA GIRL Pro Conceal - Creamy Beige (under eye highlight)
BEN NYE Banana Luxury Powder - (under eye highlight)
Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer - Dark (concealing scars)

// BROWS //

Soap & Glory Brow Archery Brow Pencil - Hot Chocolate
Illamasqua Brow Cake - Thunder

// CHEEKS //

Milani Baked Blush - 01 Dolce Pink
Freedom Pro Contour Kit - Medium 02
Makeup Geek Duo Chrome Eyeshadow - Phantom (highlighter)

// EYES //

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Makeup Academy Pro-Base Eye Primer - Nude
NYX Cosmetics Jumbo Pencil - Milk (brow bone)
Sugarpill Pressed Eyeshadow - Poison Plum (eye lids and lower lash line)
Lime Crime D'Antoinette Palette - Ribbonesque (eye lids and lower lash line)
Sugarpill Pressed Eyeshadow - Dollipop (crease and lower lash line)
Lime Crime D'Antoinette Palette - Royal Flush (centre eyelid)
Lime Crime Superfoils - Convertible (inner corner)
Kiko Milano Smart Eye Pencil - 805 Bright Lilac (waterline)
Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner - Infinity
Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel - 76 (henna detailing)
L'Oreal Mega Volume Miss Hippie Mascara - Black

// LIPS //

Kiko Milano Smart Lip Pencil - 714 Pink Iguana
Milani Amore Metallics Lip Creme - Dramatic Diva

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18 comments

  1. YOU are one person on this earth who, I BELIEVE, is truly a South Asian Unicorn (and no I am very serious when as I type this). We have rishta aunty, gori bahu, fair and lovely problems but YES they have been overstated. There's a lot more to South Asian cores just these oh-see-my-lehenga and bravo! to all of these brave and talented people out there making it certain that our image as a cosmopolitan community.

    THANK YOU BBY!!!!

    Noor | Noor's Place

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    1. Noor! I am a Unicorn, but please, keep it a secret! Don't you know what witches do with Unicorn blood?! Yes, there are plenty of things to complain about in South Asian culture(s), but there are so many more things to celebrate - I fear we are becoming defined by the negatives and lazy stereotypes. We are so, so much more than that!

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  2. You're just magic, you are. I love how you champion your culture and still advocate for change within it. The oversight of issues and reliance on stereotypes is how stagnation is perpetuated and ambition is lost. You are a true ambassador.

    AlSO JFC PLEASE TEACH ME HOW TO WORK MAKEUP.

    Fii | little miss fii | uk fashion & lifestyle

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Fii - I think that in today's digital age we're slowly losing the art of nuance. And by that I mean, just because something or someone has a few negative qualities, doesn't mean that everything that comes from that something is bad. All cultures have certain practices or traditions that are questionable, just like all cultures have practices or traditions that are positive! I don't see myself as an ambassador though, buy thank you! <3

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  3. Super unicorn babe!! Loooooving this make-up!! It's fierce and soft at the same time!! And I love what you wrote as well, I do think many see Asians as oppressed without ever having spoken to them or knowing anyone from this culture. They just go by what they see on tv or in papers. They get all grouped together and it's horrid. But, i certainly think one should speak out about it and I'm glad you did this post!! All cultures of people have traditions or things that we would lift an eyebrow too, I don't know why it's only Asian cultures that get the finger pointed at!! x

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  4. Beautifully written post - it's so important to speak up and express yourself. I wish people didn't have these negative stereotypical thoughts, it's so just so ignorant. Keep smiling, you are beautiful!

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  5. I love reading articles like this, you give so much information about your culture. I'm learning so much. And I also love the eye make up you have! You are beautiful!

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  6. I love the art you created on your face, beautiful! And this is a well written, heartfelt post, your words are not in vain

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  7. In all honesty we need more of this. There is such a clichè behind South Asians. Times have changed. We are so much more than just blinged up clothing, curry and 'different.' It also somewhat links to religion. We are the same but follow different morals and values. It's honestly people like you who are going to make a change. Bless you. <3

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  8. Absolutely love the henna detail in white near your eye. So beautiful, and btw love your name. What does it mean?

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  9. I think that the South Asians are absolutely people . Every culture or race does vhave it's good ,bad and Ugly ,never the less the's are the things that differentiates each and every one us. I love your makeup here . The colours are very nice.


    www.stylenbeautylounge.com

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  10. Thought provoking post! Also love your make up x

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  11. Being stereotyped extremely sucks especially when it makes you place yourself in a box. But talking about it like this is what fights it, gives people agancy and makes people think deeper.

    XoXo Noma

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  12. I agree, Asians are stereotyped A LOT. Like being "good at math" and having "weird food." I think it's about embracing it all--no matter what. Being South Asian, I think we have a beautiful culture and pretty freaking good food. Btw, your makeup look totally slayed! I love your eyes and hair! xo.

    -Jannette | The Diary of a Daydreamer | Bloglovin'

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  13. DAMN I LOVE THIS!! I'm tired of rishta aunty, engineer kids, gol rotis shit. We have rebels, artists and other talents as well. And you are one hell of a fierce woman, half desi half magical! And I just love your make up skills!

    xo,
    Not Your Type Blog

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  14. First up, SKINBASE, YASSSSS! Love. You are such a talented bean with the ole makeup skills!
    Secondly, How very beautifully put. Unfortunately the world is full of people who jump on bandwagons, who pass judgements with no actual clue, people who scaremonger and people who just follow the crowd.
    Its a shame we dont have more people like you in the world, I think it would be more balanced. x

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  15. Great blog post. I love that you took a stand, but this isn't only for South Asians, it's for everyone. Being brave and looking past the stereotypes; demanding that people recognize each one of as exceptional human beings, not just a person categorized by their ethnicity.
    By the way, you are absolutely stunning! OMG, your make up is unreal! So gorgeous.

    Xo,
    Miki
    http://mikialamode.com

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  16. This was SO eloquently written, you had me hanging on your every word! It's a massive shame for sure, particularly that some people voice their opinions without thinking for one second they might be misguided - I can appreciate your frustration. On a brighter note, I'm beginning to think your colourful looks are basically the tangible form of happiness; gorgeous!!!

    aglassofice.com x

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