This week I was super proud of Neelam Gill for speaking out about her struggles against the racism and sexism she faces as a part of being the first South Asian model to be casted by a top fashion designers like Burberry. She’s been described by trolls as being “ugly”, “dark”, a “refugee” and that she doesn’t deserve to be paid more than male models. These responses reminded me of when Nina Davuluri won Miss America in 2014 and was described as being a“terrorist”, amongst other disgusting racist comments. So why is it that society doesn’t see South Asian women, or in fact women of colour, to be worthy of being ‘attractive’ and/or ‘successful’?
These experiences are very real examples that many South Asian girls and women go through every day and have continuously struggled with. Growing up, racism and sexism has always been a part of my life, and now being a makeup artist I am more aware of how harmful beauty standards/ideals are normalized and entrenched in society. The amount of times I’ve been recommended to try lightening products and told to buy foundations that would make me “glow” but instead make me look dead - seriously wtf?!
I constantly have an internal battle with myself - for me, makeup makes me feel empowered and free, but I also know it sits in very oppressive structures that feed on people’s self-hatred and insecurities. But Neelam is right, “there needs to be a change...” and one way to achieve equality is to keep challenging the norms and to keep holding our identity in spaces that aren’t made for us. #mybeautystandards