Why Representation Matters

Photo from Amman Kayla

2011, English Class, I was 13. Our English teacher asked us, “if we were making a movie on your life, who would play you?” My mind went blank. I began scanning the limited movie knowledge I knew, trying to find the perfect actress. The white girls had various answers, with long explanations, actually identifying similarities. Even the black girls, there was a diversity in their answers as they explained which black actress (or singer, someone did say Beyonce) would play them. However, I was stuck, because I knew no brown Indian actresses.

My English teacher eventually came over to our table to ask how we were doing. I expressed to him that I was stuck for people, as were the other brown girls on my table – one, who was Indian Sikh, another who was Muslim. We expressed that we didn’t know any brown actresses, to which my teacher replied, “they don’t need to be brown, they just need to play you.” The other girls accepted it, at least they did on the outside, but that sentence really hit me hard. To me, it wasn’t right, it was lying and it wouldn’t be me. “I guess there’s that girl from Bend It Like Beckham,” I perched up, finally identifying the first Indian actress I could think of. My English teacher was impressed, my brown friends also seemed ecstatic, “oh gosh, that means we can’t be her” and instead, when it came to presentation time, they presented a white girl each to play themselves.

When it was my time to present, I told my class the name of my actress – Parminder Nagra. A few chuckled, one even let out an “ew” (that was the girl who chose Beyonce) and I was embarrassed. Why? Because I only had one choice, one option, one representation and I didn’t want it to be white.

As I got older, the term ‘representation’ entered my vocabulary and immediately hit home, as all my childhood life I never felt represented. As an adult, I can understand and accept it, due to society, due to Hollywood, but no one understands that the years of childhood are so influential, that a lack of representation can destroy a kid’s confidence and be harmful to them beginning the journey of loving themselves. It took me a long time to accept who I was and it pains me inside, that there are kids out there, still insecure, feeling sad as they can’t seem to relate to a single character on the tv or on the film screen.

This memory came back to me, as I’ve been writing and beginning pre-production for my end of university graduation film. A film I made, so that we had no choice but to cast people of colour. Not because I hate white people, not because I’m not being inclusive, but because it’s about fucking time I saw someone familiar up on the screen.

Closed Doors is a project that I am super proud of and can’t wait to see it be made. I have such a strong team working with me to bring this image to life, but we would love if we could get your support too, I would super appreciate if you could click this link to find out more:


Thank you for reading, until next time. Let’s allow some unheard voices to tell their stories for once.


Is It Time To Leave Old Cultures Behind? | Blogtober Day 11


Being Indian comes along with lots of ideologies and commitments. Especially in comparison to the western world I live in, a lot of them are challenged, whereas a lot of them are still maintained and taught.

For example, I grew up with many known ‘facts’ that were part of my culture. Such as:

  1. Always respect your elders. Also, elders have the last say.
  2. No talking to boys (lmao)
  3. No wearing makeup.
  4. Dressing a certain way. (less risque, more covered.)
  5. Work work work! The aim of getting a job.

I’m sure there are so many more, but these are the few that always stuck with me and the one’s which actively made my brain think for a sec. I guess my question is, are these ideologies still relevant?

A lot of these ideologies were brought over when our family moved over from India. There was a maintenance of keeping culture close, despite the changing western world around them. English women were told to embrace their femininity, dress how they want and wear all the new fashion items and makeup – finally for once, less for the men and more for themselves. However, from an Indian women’s perspective, they were told the latter – respect yourself! Dress sensibly, stay natural and be a role model.

Both of these thoughts have good and bad sides to them which are trying to be taught. Growing up as a third gen Indian girl, I too had the conflicting sides. My friends were being allowed to show off their femininity and makeup was especially a big thing for me growing up. Once, I was in secondary school and my friend came over. We were in year 8 and her mother let her wear a small amount of makeup. I wanted to try, so she let me try on her mascara. It was cool and the first time I applied makeup onto myself. When my mom came through the door, she went absolutely bonkers. She grabbed a makeup wipe and started rubbing at my eyes, hugely upsetting me in front of my new friend.

But, why? Why was this so frowned upon? What were the connotations that my mum had over makeup at the time? After a while, I let her get over it. I now knew that I wasn’t able to wear makeup, until I turned 16. Then, I asked my older sister if she’d teach me how to apply it for prom. I went from wearing no makeup at all, to a whole full face. My mum wasn’t particularly comfortable with it, but as I approached college, my eyeliner phase began.

A big thing that was prominent in the ideologies is that, we’re not allowed to introduce our boyfriends unless we know they are the one. But how the heck would I know that! 3 months into my first relationship, I hated lying to my mom and I had to spill everything to her. From two very old siblings, I, the youngest, was the first kid to open up to our mom about being in a relationship.

Why? Why was this a thing? Is it family pride or is it the aftermath of families that weren’t comfortable about talking about these things?

Because, the truth is, I’m western. No matter how many Indian ideologies are drilled into my head, I am western. I respect my culture and I do everything that I can to stick to it, but the system is so outdated. In my opinion, the most important part of being in a family is that these are the people you love unconditionally. Friends, lovers, come and go, but family will always be the same. I want to be in a family unit where I can open up about my issues and problems and I’m so glad, that particularly my mother, has become way more western and open, so now I actually can talk to her about anything I need.

Culture shouldn’t be maintained, it should develop, as the world develops around us.

Why do you think that these ideologies are placed how they are, and do you see it as a big issue?


Shades Of White [GUEST POST] | Blogtober Day 10

By Maria “Tzing Fung” Baker

I remember many years ago after summer break, when I returned for another year at school, my friends and I, as we always did after a tediously hot summer, placed our arms in the middle of our circle, lining them up to compare the shades like a very uniformed and homogeneous foundation ad you would see on TV.

“Argh we’re all still so pale, But Maria, your arm is a different colour to mine still. Look how different it looks.” One of my friends would mention to the others.

I was genuinely perplexed, Why was I so different? Why were those aspects always picked out?

Back then I feared to be different, it was high school, after all, I had enough on my plate and being naturally different was difficult as it is, I used the fact that I was white passing (though I didn’t know the term back then) to my advantage, the little bit of me I could potentially control the outcome of, shield myself from more insults.  It was a pseudo sense of security, knowing well I was kidding myself but I was finally the same as everybody else. If you looked at my photos back then and compared them to me now, you would see what I mean: Freckles dotted my nose and cheeks, my eyes were wide with innocent youth and my teeth jarring, kind of like most teens but what caught me off guard was how Western and white I looked.

“I looked so white back then!” I exclaimed to my family over my old photographs about a year back. They inspected such and agreed, looking back and forth between past and present me. Again, I was perplexed, how can this be? What a big change!

Was it really just a psychological trick I played on myself?

Back then I didn’t know what it was to be mixed race, I didn’t know I was such. All I knew was my mother and her side of the family are Malaysian Chinese (not “Just Chinese” but “Malaysian Chinese”) which only added to the mystery, and then my dad was English. Mixed wasn’t in my dictionary or anyone’s in my school. They would call me Chinese but when they did it, it always sounded like a jab at me. “Well, you’re Chinese, how would you know about the stuff I’m talking about?” Kind of thing.

I wanted to say I wasn’t completely different to them, after all, my dad was like them. But then I considered, really how much like them? No, I didn’t get it. Not for a while anyway.

A lot changed since. Maybe it was the internet or as maturity sleuthed on by as time passed, year after year, I realised something, I wanted to be different. And I was very much different already, that much didn’t need changing for such a wish to come true.

I saw everyone wearing the same clothes, owning the same names, having the same background, traditions and holidays. I had praised myself for such an interesting background.

I finally noticed the twinkle in someone’s eye when I mention my Chinese name to them. “Oh! What does that mean? In English?”

“Golden Phoenix” I puff out my chest proudly. Their mouth turning into a big ‘o’,  the amazement of this fact settling on us like a blanket. That’s it. That’s the feeling I should have felt all along.

It wasn’t just that, Chinese New Year had always been special to me but it was like a small secret that I let the occasional friend in and even then I kept thinking, they’re using us for our money.

Now I’m the one begging my own family to do something grander, let’s go out, let’s celebrate and show the world we’re celebrating.

I had made a magazine about my culture in university, I used my Chinese name wherever possible when there’s something to show my culture in a movie I proudly inform my white friends after they puzzle over what it is. So what changed?

It wasn’t as simple as to say, one misty morning I learnt who I really was and who I was meant to be, no, it was stepped upon steps to feel different about myself.

The racism held me down like a surfer swept up in a huge stormy tide. I felt like I was drowning in their comments, people’s thoughts about me, who was I kidding? They’re right, I thought to myself. When I was in first school my old-timey teacher picked me out from the small waddling crowd of kids and said “well Maria’s skin is yellow” we were talking about different skin colours I guess but that didn’t give it much excuse. How these boys that bullied us shouted at me “well you’re Chinese!” And my friends, how little they were, looked at me as if I was punched in the face. What an insult!

But as I grew up and as I took a different outlook on my culture, realising how important it was to be different in a world filled with herding sheep. Because it wasn’t enough to be the same, to be forgotten. But really it was especially the fact that all these years I felt like a fraud, then I felt in touch with my culture and suddenly nothing could stop me.

What else, there were those that represented me on the big screen or behind the scenes that expressed issues that I never noticed were a bigger problem to the rest of the world, I wanted to be them, I wanted to help others that had struggled through the same insecurities I went through. There are those that represent me now that I feel like I must list a few down: Jackie Chan, Sandra Oh, Steven Yeun, Jessica Gao.

I had to show the racists and the ignorant that their rude comments didn’t feel much to me, it powered me through life, even, drove me forwards, gave me the strength to show them that this wasn’t my weakness, they were wrong, this was my power to make a difference. How the current state of our  society we’re in, if you’re not straight, white and male you have something to worry about but power is in the difference, in being different and making a difference.

tzing fung

Meet Maria (or Tzing Fung) the lovely writer of today’s post. I’m so happy to finally be able to share this beautiful piece with you, now send her all the love and support ❤

You can find her in these places:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC15HsbBN01xLPkiEH3xIHxA?view_as=subscriber

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TzingFung


Big Booty Culture: I Got A Flat Ass! | Blogtober Day 9

A bit of a two parter to my last post, about skinny shaming and fat shaming, but today we will be talking about my flat ass!

I’ve never been the most curvy girl. I’m small, tiny and my features are very flat. My younger cousin (he was like 6) once called my figure, ‘straight.’ I lack curves, I lack volume and I lack an ass.

Growing up, it wasn’t the biggest problem of mine. I was probably the latest to ‘bloom’ out of my friends, my boobs didn’t start growing until half way through high school and only in the last couple years of my life, they’ve actually been considered average. (Bare in mind I’m 20.) Comments from friends growing up was prominent, they were aware, I was aware and it was always a thing on the back of my mind. Then, big booty culture took a turn into society.

Big booty culture is important, for sure. There are a lot of factors which connote why it became big in society, but I think the main contenders are our rise in body confidence and as always, the biggest worldwide influencers, The Kardashians.

Now everyone was thriving for a bigger butt! Gym memberships rose as women started learning what circuits were best for creating a bigger butt, women were obsessed with the idea of having a bigger butt and a lot of people were left incredibly insecure, because for some people, it is an impossible achievement.

I too went to the gym, did all the squats that I could, paired with other circuit exercises that my sister forwarded to me. I grinded and for sure, I saw a difference, I was toning, but my ass was still small. That’s because I’m small.

I think the worst part of this whole situation for me too, is whenever I spoke about this situation to friends or boyfriends, they would just give me advice on how to make my butt bigger. It was never love yourself, or body confidence, it was ‘well this is what I do’, ‘you’re right, your butt is so small’, ‘you’re so bony lmao.’ For years, I felt a huge disconnect with people who I thought were friends and it really began to eat at my mental health. My insecurity with my lack of shape grew and my friends weren’t helping.

Comments are still prominent. Even though I’ve spent the last year really trying to clutter the junk out of my friendship circles, comments are still there. Comedic or not, they still hurt and they can still keep you awake at night.

When I realised my friends weren’t there, the importance grew of why I need to love myself. No one else was doing it, I couldn’t expect anyone else to do it, so it just clicked. My mentality and happiness changed so much the day I realised, this is just how I am. This is how I’m built. Why stress out and cry and tear my health apart, just to condone to what society wants off me.

I’ve got a flat ass, guys. I’m probably always going to have a flat ass. If you’ve got something to say about it, you can happily kiss my-



Is Skinny Shaming As Bad As Fat Shaming? | Blogtober Day 8


This is where Growing Kale becomes a little controversial.

Before I begin, let’s firstly address that I’m no way near saying one is worse than the other, this is a constant debate and discussion that I wanted to address as some of you may be surprised to know that one of my biggest insecurities growing up, was how skinny I am.

People rarely consider being skinny as a bad thing. Neither did I, for a little while. In fact, a lot of people growing up complimented me on my figure, saying how they’d kill to be as skinny as I. That was nice, of course, but I’d also get a large amount of comments of people saying I look sick. I can’t explain how patronising some people could be.

Putting their finger around my wrist to emphasise how skinny my arms are. My aunties, telling me at every event about how much weight I’ve lost. People constantly asking if I’m okay, or if I’m ill. Growing up, young girls have problems, insecurities and self doubts anyway in life, and even though these people had no idea what they were doing, it was eating up and eating me up until I started to become extremely self conscious about my weight.

In secondary school, I was underweight and that was super easy to tell. It didn’t help that the baggy school uniform and blazer really didn’t compliment my physique at all. I weighed myself – a lot and I would eat and eat and eat, but to no avail. It was actually incredibly mentally exhausting. I wanted to gain weight, I had to gain weight, if I did then I’d finally get those comments completely out of my head, but I’ve never ever been in control of my weight. It’s not easy to just change it.

This next bit is extremely difficult to talk about, but here I go anyway…

There was someone in my life who I really, really cared about and I really cared about what they thought about me. It was someone I was interested in and someone who was interested me, and I can tell from his instagram feed alone that he was into much bigger girls. He put a thought into my brain that big equals sexy and if I wanted to be seen as sexy, I had to gain weight. Bigger boobs, bigger booty, bigger me. It wasn’t easy. I ate everything I could, I went to the gym and really tried my hardest for months – but big isn’t me. I physically can’t drastically make that change to my body.

I’m sitting here, a 20 year old young adult and I still wish I could gain weight. Nowadays, it’s not for anyone else, but just a healthy self achievement that I’m trying to work on.

I know there a millions of skinny girls out there going through the same frustration as I and it really sucks when we got laughed at and ridiculed when we speak out about it. No way do I feel we’ve been oppressed and shat upon as much as big girls. However, I really wish big girls had our backs more. Instead of getting angry the minute we complain about being skinny, maybe listen and be open to the fact that we’re suffering to.

So, to answer the question, do I think skinny shaming is as bad as fat shaming?

My answer is no. It’s not as bad.

However, it does fucking suck.

The Problem With Plastic Surgery | Blogtober Day 7


Plastic surgery is a practice that has been constant in society since the early 400s. It is considered that the first plastic surgeon, was a man in India who performed skin grafts. Now, I don’t want to bore you with the history of plastic surgery, I just thought it was so interesting to discover that humanity has always had this underlying issue – we dislike how we look and there has always been the option to change that.

It has been deemed a popular surgery only in the last few decades, as our tools and knowledge has become so much more professional and extensive, that it’s easier, cheaper and safer to get plastic surgery than ever before. However, it is believed that all our practices are still the same practices that were carried out in the 18th century.

This isn’t a rant about plastic surgery, by the way. My problem with plastic surgery, is how nobody talks about it.

Despite my day 2 blog, regarding my nose and how I would never wish a nose job upon myself, I actually think that if you want plastic surgery, you should go for it. I always try to help people see the beauty within themselves, but if someone is really struggling that much, I wouldn’t want to stop someone from feeling confident and better about themselves. However, I believe that if you do go through with getting plastic surgery, you should be open to also talk about how you have received plastic surgery.

Take Kylie Jenner as an example. (I’m sorry I keep bringing up The Kardashian’s, but you’ll understand in a minute.)

From a very young age, Kylie Jenner was constantly in the spotlight. She had her glamorous older sisters constantly around cameras and growing up being a character in ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ didn’t make the fame feel any less natural. Kylie constantly had cameras in her face. Think for a second about how insecure we were as little girls growing up, now imagine if we constantly had cameras and media attractions paying attention to our every flaw, even from very young ages, like 9 or 12. That was Kylie Jenner’s childhood.

It makes a lot of sense to me that Kylie grew up feeling extremely insecure. Her face was everywhere and when you’re young and more vulnerable, this dramatised any kind of insecurity or issue she had with herself. More specifically, her lips.

Kylie has always been vocal on how much she hated how small her lips were. Then all of a sudden, Kylie started turning up to red carpet events with plump, beautiful lips. Obviously, the rumours began. Lip job at 15? Lip fillers? Underage plastic surgery?

I think there is an underlying problem here about getting surgery at a young age. But I think the uttermost dangerous part of this whole event, was the fact that she didn’t come forward about anything. She ran away from the questions and suggested that it was just her lipliner. I can’t explain how dangerous that is.

Young girls are growing up with role models and influenced by people like Kylie. They want her look, they want her fashion and they want her lips. However, she’s selling false hope. By telling these young girls, they can get her lips by buying one of her lip kits is just exploitation and she’s not owning up to the fact that they’re NOT REAL.

Kids will be growing up with this unrealistic image that Kylie has great lips, so why don’t they? But if they learn from a young age that lips like those don’t really exist, isn’t that healthier? Than lying completely to their faces?

Maybe plastic surgery would be more accepted, if the conversation around them was actually discussed. I, however, believe this is a change that needs to begin with the people who practice receiving plastic surgery. If you receive plastic surgery, I believe you need to be open to discussion and questions. It’s important to get that out there, because the danger of selling unreal expectations to children, is way worse than the little embarrassment you may face in comparison.

Maybe I’m harsh, but I am interested in hearing what is your opinion on plastic surgery and what do you think about the problems surrounding plastic surgery?

The Kardashians Vs. Jameela Jamil | Blogtober Day 6


For the last few years of our lives on this planet, one family name has been on all of our lips, whether we love them or hate them and we can’t even deny it – The Kardashians.

Whether you think they’re the girl bosses or con artists of our century, it’s easy to admit that these ladies know how to sell themselves, influence a generation and become top business professionals. May it be Kim’s fashions, Kourtney’s personality or Kylie’s lips, a lot of us girls have been inspired by these women at some point in our lives, I know I have. I take a lot of inspiration from their work ethic and how they were able to create a multi-millionaire franchise just on themselves, isn’t that what all bloggers aspire to do?

However, this post isn’t remotely about The Kardashians. May I introduce you to Jameela Jamil…

Jameela Jamil was one of the first brown women I saw on public television, that wasn’t about something to do with her skin colour. She was a confident, gorgeous tv presenter and I looked up to her a lot growing up, as someone who looked like me, working the heck out of the industry. Skip ten years later and she’s a lead character in Netflix’s The Good Place and I was so proud and happy to find out that she had landed that role. The Good Place reminded me of my connection to Jameela as a kid, so I decided to follow her on social media and I realised how much of an advocate and role model she has become to all sorts of young women.

She publicly and confidently speaks up about her experiences with weight gain, pressure on looking good in the industry and especially slates the Kardashians for their incapability of realising the influence they have on young women. Kim has shown to continuously support a ‘skinny lollipop’, which condones unhealthy lifestyles and skinny, ‘perfect’ bodies to young women and Jameela Jamil has had enough of it, speaking up about it at every opportunity she gets.

I think this is less of a conversation on the moralities of the Kardashians and more of a in depth look at the influence of an influencer. They’re unaware that the harmful substances they condone can completely manipulate a generation of young girls into thinking, ‘well I want to look like the kardashians, so I’m not going to eat either!’ It’s a completely unhealthy perspective that doesn’t just have the Kardashians to blame, but online influencers from all sorts of paths, selling false dreams and unhappiness to young girls that really need a good role model. And the Kardashians ain’t it.

This is just something that has been on my mind and it’s time it’s addressed. Role models shouldn’t tell you what to do, or tell you how to live your life. Role models should teach, educate and open the younger generations up to learning about themselves, loving who they are and appreciate what their mama’s gave them.

One day, I dream to be the role model of a young Indian girl. I want her to know that she is beautiful, no matter how she looks, no matter what she thinks and I’m never gonna sell her something for the sake of getting paid. That is a toxic celebrity.

I just really appreciate Jameela Jamil, what she’s doing and what she is talking about, and I am thankful to have a woman like that to look up to, for the large majority of my life.

Is It Okay To Be Fake Happy? | Blogtober Day 5

0C9A9732Oh, don’t ask me how I’ve been, don’t make me play pretend.

What’s the use?

I bet everybody here is fake happy too.

Being fake happy is genuinely an important life discussion and thing to constantly be aware of, but especially a huge underlying issue within the blogging community, so let’s specifically talk about being fake happy on social media.

Happiness is the key to a successful blogging career and that is the reality. Yes, it’s important to address mental health issues, rainy days and complaints, however you’re most likely going to gain more followers if you remain on the positive side of life, as that’s what people are interested in, that’s the kind of thing consumers want to add into their lives. They want content that will make them happy! So, we paint our pretty picture.

Our instagram is bright and colourful, only pictures of us smiling on those days where we put in those extra bits of effort. Highlighting only the times where we actually plan to do something, getting our friends to take photos of us looking like we’re having a whale of a time. Our twitter telling funny stories and sharing personal successes and achievements. We paint the picture that we want the world to see, but not necessarily what is going on behind closed doors.

Is this bad? Generally, no. I believe social media should be practiced as a creative outlet and a blogger should feel that they can do whatever they want with their blog. As I said, no one is really interested in following bloggers who will be gloomy everyday, it just can be very draining and too much, sometimes. However, it’s not healthy.

Social media gives us an intense pressure to live life a certain way. We have to be out there, looking for adventure, eating healthy and doing yoga. We have to explore, go for jogs everyday and eat out at fancy looking restaurants. Social media gives us an image of an ideal life, but in reality, no one actually has it. Nobody, not even Gwyneth Paltrow has a perfect life like that.

Everybody has down days. Everybody has days where they don’t feel like getting out of bed and snooze the alarm. Everybody has junk food days, where they eat a pot noodle or that whole tin of pringles. Just because people don’t show those bad days in life, does not make them invalid or rare, they’re completely normal and okay.

Don’t feel as if your life has to look like the lives of social influencers. Don’t fall into the trap of having to be productive all the time. Do you, you know you’re rhythm and how you work, live to your life and no one else’s.

I guess today’s blog is more of a challenge for you. The next time you wake up and want to stay in bed, let yourself have a lie in. The next time you consider grabbing the unhealthy option, treat yourself. As long as you generally keep on eye on your health and your balanced diet, I think it’s perfectly fine to enjoy those little things in life. And your final challenge – the next time you’re having a down day, tweet about it. Let your followers know. Don’t put on a fake smile, don’t put on a facade, be honest, truthful and you may get a response that you never expected.

I guess the days of being fake happy is just intertwined with our virtual lives on social media, but I think we need to take action in separating our internet selves from our actual selves.

Let me know what you think!

The Girl Who Wanted To Be White | Blogtober Day 4

It’s rainy England in the mid noughties. She was 9 years old, getting ready in her mother’s mirror. Her face screeched and pulled as her mother yanked her hair back in a vicious ponytail, scraping her skull with the bristles of the brush. It wasn’t that painful, but she made it look as if it was the most painful thing in the world. She stares at herself in the mirror. A unibrow, mustache and hair on the neck. None of this really phased her yet, but her frizzy hair was ready to accompany her to school.


She had quite a few friends at school, her main group was her two best friends. She got on with a lot of everyone. She was super lucky that she had an extreme diverse community at her school and none of this was ever questioned, the children went about their days as if race was something they were aware of, but it didn’t matter. Though, on the back of her mind, she always felt there was something different. A barrier that separated her from every other individual.

Going home, her usual routine was to ask her grandmother for an egg sandwich and sit down in front of the television. She loved television more than anything, specifically disney channel as the stories, comedy and characters were so fun and enjoyable, she had the opportunity to escape for a little bit in the lives of Raven Baxter, or the Suite Lives of Zack and Cody. Hannah Montana was her favourite though, she always felt a strong connection to Miley Stewart.

She’d watch the movies and tv that Disney had to offer. She didn’t notice, but on the back of her mind she knew that all these girls you wanted to be, were white. Her idols, the girls on her t-shirts and necklaces, the tickets to the films she was buying, the movies she was counting down the days to watch – a large majority of them were white. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few black characters that she also had the chance to look up to, like Raven and The Cheetah Girls, but other than that?

The next morning she had returned to her mother’s mirror, staring at herself as her mother continued to yank the hair behind her ears. She was aware of her skin, her colour and her culture. It wasn’t usual, it wasn’t pretty, it was weird and embarrassing. That day her mother had to go to work early so her auntie dropped her off at school. Her auntie was lovely, but she listened to BBC Asia every morning, blasting the latest hits all the way from India itself. This was the most embarrassing part, she couldn’t at all turn up to school blasting Indian music out of her car, so she asked her auntie if she could drop her off a little earlier to meet her friends. The girl met no friends that day, instead she walked on her own to school to avoid embarrassment.

It was as if a flip had switched and the little girl was seeing more than usual. She noticed how the boys acted around the white girls and sometimes even the black girls, but her or none of the brown girls were getting none of the same attention. Was it something about them? Was she not funny or nice to be around? Was she not pretty enough? She sat on her own that day, getting down to her work at one of the tables because she wasn’t particularly in the right mind frame to talk to her friends. In fact, her friends were the last people she wanted to talk to that day. From the corner of her eye, she notices a group of boys begin to walk over to the edge of her table. They don’t notice she’s there at all. Their conversation was quite absurd for a group of nine year olds, discussing which girls in the class they would rather get with. Her name was brought up and her ears perked up, like a meerkat she looked over and saw their disgusted faces, laughing, at the thought of being with her. They saw her and acted as if they weren’t talking about anything, she put her head straight down and continued on with her work.

She was 12 years old. Now in secondary school. Her insecurities and shyness has built up, but she has a group of friends and family that she feels very comfortable in. This weekend she was going to her father’s house, home to her half-sister who she admired more than anything at the time. She was pretty, active and funny, a sister closer to her age that she could just be silly around. Her sister wore lots of makeup, the young girl however wasn’t allowed. With her sister was the only time she explored the world of makeup, and due to her sister’s much lighter skin, it turned the girl into a much lighter girl.

They took photos together on her sister’s webcam and the little girl actually felt pretty for once. They took a bunch of photos that the young girl found confidence in, within herself and within her appearance. She put them everywhere, on MSN, Facebook, Bebo and began to feel a bigger confidence in herself. But in reality, nothing changed. She was still brown, she was still Indian and she still had a family of Sikhs and Punjabi speakers. Reality kicked in when she realised, there was nothing she could do.

She was 20 years old. She’s studying in her third year of university, working towards her final project and dissertation. She has accepted herself, her family and her background but it wasn’t easy. She realised, if society isn’t telling her to love her differences, she had to learn to love them themselves. She goes by Kayla these days, due to years built up of being insecure about her own skin colour. However, the truth is, she is Amman Rani Kayla. Her culture and her skin colour is what makes her unique. She has spent so long fighting it, she has finally learned to accept and begin to teach herself from the beginning – about the cultures, the stories, the food and the language. She doesn’t regret her childhood, but she has learned why she should love who she is. It makes her unique in this world of copycats, she wants the youngest generation of girls who want to be white, to learn that they are beautiful in themselves and they don’t need anyone to tell them otherwise. It starts with change and the change must be within ourselves.


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