Alienation Within The South Asian Diaspora

Well, as you may have noticed, the blog has had a little bit of a facelift over the past couple of days. Why, you might ask? Well, Se...

South Asian Diaspora Alienation4

Well, as you may have noticed, the blog has had a little bit of a facelift over the past couple of days. Why, you might ask? Well, September marks the eighth anniversary of Fashionicide! Yep, this blog has been running for eight whole years, and I can't quite believe it!

I think around this time last year I wrote a little bit of my frustration at the so-called Desi Inspo accounts, and another year has gone by without my mind being changed all that much. These are accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc that are supposed to champion South Asians and showcase what we're all about, because the common perceptions of South Asians in the UK in particular are largely negative, stereotypes or both.

These are supposed to be platforms that show people about the huge diversity within the South Asian community, whether that be geographical, cultural, religious, sexuality, style, whatever. They're supposed to tackle the stereotypes that sees us associated with taxis, corner shops and curries, because there's a whole lot more to us than just that. But all too often, these accounts only feature South Asians who fall within a limited subset of South Asians, and therefore make us all look quite bland and boring.

I mean, it's great that people out there have recognised the issue of South Asian representation being determined by non-South Asians, but the execution for the most part is thoroughly lacking. There are notable exceptions, such as Burnt Roti, but these are too few and too far between. The rest just wouldn't look twice at someone who deviates from 'the norm' in any way, shape or form, and end up just creating new stereotypes, by promoting a homogenous view of South Asians today.

This kind of alienation of the different is nothing new to society as a whole, all sorts of groups have faced it, and all because they see life a little differently, but it's also not new to me either. Ever since I was a child, throughout my school years I faced mockery for my choices, I remember once being laughed at by a whole group of girls for wearing white nail polish, or 'tippex nails' as they called it. I was often ignored, thought of as a weirdo or just outright laughed at by other Asians. At the time this was pretty hurtful, but now? Well now, you're all wearing white nail polish, aren't you girls? ;)

South Asian Diaspora Alienation2

My own particular problems have really arisen because I am not like other South Asians. I really don't like 'Urban' music at all, it has no appeal for me, I despise shisha, and quite a lot of the 'modern' Asian subculture that the younger generations are creating for themselves. It discourages creativity and thinking as an individual, something the younger generations have always faced from older generations, is now being recreated by the younger generation itself. Can nobody see the irony?

And speaking of the older generation, I've had someone at a wedding come up to me and say: "Oh, I hope you get better soon.." I've also had people approach me in Saree shops trying to explain to me the difference between a Saree and a Salwar Kameez. Don't fucking patronise me. I am perfectly in touch with my roots, thank you!

A final point on South Asians, from a young age, my mother always told me that Asians don't like to see other Asians have any kind of success, there's an element of jealousy when someone else 'makes it', and some will even go to the extent of trying to destroy your success. Looking back, that was probably an amazing piece of advice, because it still rings true today - Asians are awful at supporting each other. From the outside looking in, I really admire the black community in this respect. Because despite being a million times more diverse than the South Asian community, it appears to me as though they really get behind each other so much more.

So, with all these experiences, I feel alienated from my own community, and truth be told, I always have. The difference is, I've now reached the point where I no longer give a shit. I am past caring. I don't want to be accepted. Because being accepted means changing, and why would I change just to fit in with people who don't like who I am? 

Purple iridescent jellyfish dress

When this blog started out, there weren't many blogs and there was a decent community. But as with all things, as it got more popular, cliques formed. I'm not in any of them, and for that I'm glad, but on the other hand it does make things much more difficult. I'd rather struggle on than be part of a high-school esque clique that operate on groupthink. That kills off opinions and creativity, and I am not about that.

But then, the more I thought about it, the more I started to realise that actually, this is definitely not a problem that's exclusive to the South Asian community. The blogging community is pretty similar. When I first started out, back in 2009, there weren't too many around, there was a decent little community and it seemed to be largely a creative release or a bit of casual fun. But as with all good things, it got more and more popular, and the cliques started to form.

Not being part of a clique does make things a little more difficult, you don't have your own little band of cheerleaders to support you if you falsely accuse someone else, or are falsely accused of, buying followers or using a follow bot on one of the almost daily witch-hunts and you don't have a network of friends who'll make sure you, as a lifestyle blogger, get invited to the launch event for the hottest new makeup brand, but I'm pretty fucking glad I'm not a part of one.

There are things more important to me than that kind of support, which-hunts and blogging events, and the one thing that stands above all is free thought. Because what a clique does, is essentially removes all pretence of free thought, and you revert to 'Groupthink' mode. You can talk about absolutely everything you like within a pre-defined, unwritten, set of subjects, but venture outside of that, and you're met with cold glances and gradual reduction of status within the group. Cliques celebrate mediocrity, and penalise individuality. Fuck that.

They also ensure that 'like minds' stick together, and rarely bring outsiders in to the group or conversations, so in effect creates a kind of echo chamber. The kind of echo chamber that talks about diversity, and how bad it is that people of colour face alienation and discrimination, whilst at the same, excluding PoC from their group (or of course, inviting the token PoC). So I'm afraid, it's all bullshit. And that's why diversity is such a hot topic in the blogging/beauty industry, has been such for a couple of years, and why nothing's improving. It's all a back-slapping exercise for these cliques to feel better about themselves.

South Asian Diaspora Alienation

Iridescent Jellyfish Dress - Kyra Makes Things (LINK)
Longline Black Vest - Topshop
Black Velvet Burn Out Kimono - ASOS
Clear Lilac Glasses - Primark
Double Hooped Black Earrings - H&M

So, back to the subject of this blog. I'm definitely alienated, I'm definitely an outsider, but given the alternatives, I'm fucking loving it. I think it's also important that I recognise all of the support I have had over the years, because a lot of people have given me a lot of love since it all began way back in 2009. And I appreciate all the more, because I didn't ass-lick or buy my way towards it, you all gave that support because you like what you saw. So, a huge thank you to you all, because you've made it worth it.

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14 comments

  1. So much YES to this entire post!!! Some of it, well, all of it resonated so much with me.
    I don't want to do the things everyone is doing, I cannot stand shisha or that whole scene and I feel like I can't progress with what i want to do because of the people around me. It's tough and very very draining.
    It's also pretty isolating I guess. BUT we will eventually make waves, that I am sure of. You especially Lima, now that you can focus fully on your blog you're gonna do BIG things! 💜

    Rosie
    Damzelinthisdress.com

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    1. Thank you Rosie! In a way, I'm glad that so many people have messaged me with similar sentiments, saying that they feel this post has put in to words what they've been feeling for some time now, but also it saddens me that so many feel this way. Why can't our communities just celebrate us for who we are? But I think our approach is the right one, regardless of whether we feel supported we should just carry on.

      I remember when asians both young and old would look at me funny when I first dyed my hair turquoise and openly mocked me, but now, mainstream Asians are doing it too. I'm not saying it's down to me, but we need people who are prepared to break the mould, otherwise everything just stays the same, and that is fucking boring! X

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  2. My darling Lima, everything you've said is true. Asians are rarely supportive and encouraging - I've felt that time and time again over the years. Even the so-called aunties have venom in their words and there are a lot of backhanded compliments. Like your mum, my parents warned me about the same thing which is why I kept a lot of life close to my chest, not even sharing what university I went to. Some still don't know what I do for a living because hey, why share it when they don't sincerely care? I am related to people who are very much aware of my blog yet not one person acknowledges it let alone support it. Then again I'm not the kind to ram it down people's throats but believe me, they know about it because they have looked for me on Google.

    You're also right about the blogging world being so clique-y and very Mean Girls. Funnily enough today I got trolled by one minion defending a big blogger when her sponsored video popped up on my Facebook feed, and I merely said it was painful to watch because it was so terribly made (and clearly sponsored). I wasn't alone in sharing my opinion and in no was was my one-worded response (just the word 'painful') an attack on the individual but I got trolled for 'being mean'. Do fuck off, please. I'm a consumer more than a blogger so I have every fucking right to say what I feel when a brand wants me to spend my hard earned money on the back of watching a shitty sponsored video. If anything, it's put me off the store in question so they've lost a customer there. Any way, I ignored the comment and nothing further came from it but it's incredible to know that minion searched for me on the internet from reading a comment on Facebook (and my page is private and not linked to my blog). Oh and the blogger/influencer on question unleashed a barrage of replies at everyone who was critical of her video - very professional.

    Any way, like you I frigging hate these cliques - no substance, medicore at the best but I am glad not to chase after any and I don't give a shit to be dropped off a PR list (which I am convinced is partly down to an influential blogger but that's another story). I will carry on as and when I feel like it. I don't have a smidgen of your talent but I feel like you speak for the things trapped in my head especially with your fierce make-up. Love you, Lima! I won't stop supporting you every step of the way. xxx

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    1. Sheenie! Where to start with this reply, where to start?! Let's start with South Asians. Aunties are usually the worst. You think that their cute little old ladies, harmless to all, but no, they have that venom too. I really don't feel like I'm part of the South Asian community at all, but given the attitudes towards creativity and freedom of thought at any level, I'm quite glad.

      As for the blogging world, same really. I have a network of people I get along with, who I admire and enjoy reading, watching or looking on at their talents, but I'd hate to ever find myself within a clique-y group. By nature, they are exclusive, and that goes against pretty much everything I stand for. I won't be sucking up to anyone anytime soon, and if anyone tries the same to me, they'll find my time to be in short supply.

      My approach to blogging (and life) has been to do what I want, when I want, and I won't be changing that anytime soon, and thank you for the love, it is reciprocated and much treasured X

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  3. I kind of have hope that things are slowly changing in the SA community but there is still a long way to go. Being brought up with only sisters I was taught to bring girls up not down. The tokenism in blogging world is unfortunate. Cant wait for the day where colour doesn't come into it. Congrats on your 8 years and here's to the next 8! Keep being real.

    Amina xx

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    1. Things are gradually changing I think, in that there are more and more people who appreciate things that are non-standard. But I also feel that with the passing of time, we'll find that there will be increasing numbers of people accepting and embracing it, but also increasing numbers of people who object to it. I hope I'm wrong on the latter.

      The tokenism in blogging is ridiculous. There have been so many incidents I've personally experienced that lead me to believe that it's all for show. We've spent years saying that PoC shouldn't be ignored in the beauty industry, because we spend so much, but it feels like the next phase is the beauty companies will attempt to become more diverse for all the wrong reasons, and get it all wrong. And yeah, another 8 years! Wow. I'll be 39 by then. THIRTY. NINE. Excuse me while I cry into my pillow. X

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  4. Can we all applaud this post?

    Genuinely cant think of someone I admire more, or look on in awe at - within the blogging community. From your talent, creativity, intelligence and style; everything about you make you unique. So I understand the not 'fitting in' part, because you were born to SHINE <3

    xx Jemma

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    1. Thank you Jemma, so kind of you to say so! It's quite difficult to take the positives from facing such alienation, but I can take solace in the fact that there are a lot of people out there who do like the things that I do, and recognise my skills and my talents. That's what makes it all worth it! <3

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  5. I don't know why it's taken me this long to discover your blog (I just found you on Instagram), but what you said about many South Asian bloggers falling into a limited subset with regards to diversity in the South Asian community is something that has been on my mind a lot recently and made me start my blog (still in progress haha). I was also one of the weird kids at school who was constantly made fun of until the day I left, simply because I was into different stuff, like metal and rock music and a lot of interesting goth clothes back in 2008 - a lot has changed since then but I'm still a weirdo and proud! I love your artistry and so happy to see a South Asian blogger doing something alternative.

    Naz xx

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  6. Halima, this post is the realist shiz I've read in a long time!!! I totally agree with you on asians trying to knock you down for being different or do something that doesn't fit in with their guidelines and especially when it comes from family, I'm like watch me prove y'all wrong! I'm so so so glad I found your blog and have met you in real life cos you are frickin ace and you seriously inspire to carry on doing what I'm doing and to not have a care about what anyone says. Also your new header is AMAZINGGGG! Have so much love for you lady!! xo

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  7. I fucking love this post so much.

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  8. I fucking love this post SO much! I have Chinese roots but born and bred in Scotland, UK. I empathise with you on our asian "aunties" and their venom that can try but fail to tear down our strong structure. We are more than that. I love this post so so so much.

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