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4 South Asian Women Every Indian American Women Should Follow

You never know how important representation is until you finally feel represented.

When I was younger, I’d never seen any representation in the media for Indian women like me.

I only saw Eurocentric features and bodies being normalized and celebrated, so I had internalized the concept that because of my brown skin and my South Asian features, I wasn’t considered beautiful. 

One reason I am so thankful for social media is because it has given me the chance to connect with women who are challenging these notions and normalizing the fact that young women of color are absolutely beautiful.

Seeing these women so comfortable in their own brown skin and South Asian features and celebrating the culture(s) they come from has helped me progress in my own journey of becoming more open with my identity as a young Indian American woman.

Here is a list of some women who have helped me be more comfortable and prouder of my identity and who continue to inspire me.   

Note: Make sure to check out all of the wonderful photographers who took these pictures, all of whom are also inspirational South Asian artists!

 

  1. 1. Simrah Farrukh (@simrahfarrukh)

    Simrah Farrukh is a Pakistani American photographer whose main mission (and Instagram bio) is “documenting brown bodies taking their place in this world.”

    When I first found her account, this statement itself was enough for me to understand her as an artist and to be inspired by her work.

    It succinctly expresses her photography and focuses on the South Asian experience in the 21st century, something I rarely see and is deficient in Western media.

    I first saw her project “The Underrepresented” which is a collection of photographs that exhibit the beauty of dark skinned South Asian women.

    In a country where skin lightening creams are on almost every woman’s shelf, this shoot is powerful and resistant to the unrealistic and, frankly, false beauty standards that are constructed for Indian women.

    As a Muslim, she also uses her photography to not only commemorate her religion but to challenge some of the norms that accompany it.

    All of her pictures cover different perspectives from the “brown gaze,” perspectives that include the immigrant experience and being brown in America.

    Farrukh is just beginning, but her work stands out because of the synchronicity of brown history and the modern immigrant experience in her photos. 

  2. 2. Raveena (@raveenaaurora)

    Raveena is an Indian American singer-songwriter and artist who sings about her experiences as a queer South Asian woman and a first-generation immigrant.

    She is the first Indian American artist I found, and it felt really empowering to see someone be so unapologetically Indian in their appearance and in their art. 

    About a year ago, Raveena came out as queer with her song “Temptation” and recently released a song called “Headaches.”

    The music video for “Headaches” is a  celebration of queer love.

    Her presence and work within the music and entertainment industry allows young queer South Asian boys and girls to be more comfortable with their culture and sexual identity, while also celebrating the coexistence of the two.

    This concept is extremely important in a society that is not as accepting of LGBTQ+ people. 

    Personally, I was touched by her song “Mama” off of her debut album Lucid, which explores what it is to be a child of immigrants.

    It also features her thoughts and inquiries into how her mother’s life was before the emergence of the American dream in their lives, something that all first-generation Indian Americans can relate to.

    Raveena is, yet another, young woman that can inspire and provide a safe space for countless minorities because she shares different experiences and perspectives. 

  3. 3. Simran Randhawa (@simran)

    Simran Randhawa is a British Malaysian Indian woman of many abilities.

    She’s a model and journalist who devotes her time to teaching young girls how to use food as an instrument for the improvement of their physical and mental wellbeing (check out her food Instagram @simsnackin).

    Randhawa and her writings about living between different cultures is something I connect with, specifically the aspect of finding balance between maintaining the integrity and beauty of your home culture while simultaneously leaving behind the more conventional and traditional parts of it.

    Randhawa utilizes every aspect of her life such as style and food to incorporate the appreciation and love she has for the plethora of cultures and experiences inside of her so there is inspiration everywhere.

  4. 4. Joy Crookes (@joycrookes)

    Joy Crookes is a Bangladeshi-Irish singer-songwriter-producer from South London.

    She incorporates this duality of her culture in her music and art.

    In her music video for her song “Don’t Let Me Down” she uses visuals from South Asian culture.

    She expresses the vulnerability involved in visiting a place that truly feels like your second home while simultaneously feeling long lost and distant, something I feel whenever I visit India.

    Some of her songs apply to different aspects of her life such as relationships, culture, and family, all at the same time.

    Crookes continues to incorporate her Bangladeshi culture into her art, which provides representation and fulfillment for young brown women by being personal and intimate with her experiences as Bangladeshi woman. 

All four of these women constantly inspire me to share and be open about my experience as an Indian American and to be unapologetically proud of my culture, which I would not have been able to do when I was younger.

I hope to do the same for other young brown women.

If you’re looking for some empowerment and inspiration, immerse yourself in and endorse their art, I promise, you won’t regret it.