salwaar kameez

Muslim Pakistani London-er

Other people’s POC profiles have helped me a lot with my understanding and character development so I thought I would contribute as much as possible. I am a 21 year old Pakistani girl born and brought up in London. My grandparents moved to the UK soon after getting married and my family has been here ever since, the culture dissolving with every new generation. Throughout my teenage years I was very detached to my identity and it was only three years ago - when I discovered Tumblr - that I became aware of my internalised racism and understood my prejudice through the whole social justice posts.

Beauty Standards

My mum is a very very fair Pakistani and during her teenage years, she could have easily passed as a white girl. To the dismay to the rest of her extended family, she married quite a dark-skinned man and ended up with brown kids. I’m pretty sure I first wore fair and lovely bleaching cream at around age 10, being sick to death of all the “kaali” (black) comments made. Looking back it absolutely disgusts me but at the time, I was too young to realise how appalling it was. It took a long time to embrace my skin and to wear foundation that actually matched my skin tone rather than about four shades lighter in a rubbish attempt to be white-er because that equalled pretty. Now I make sure to call out anyone when they insult my skin (“how will she ever get married, poor girl?”) because quite frankly, I look my brown-ness. There’s also the standard of being tall and thin but honestly, none of them affected me like my skin did.

Culture, Religion and Language

Like all other immigrants, when my grandparents came to the UK, they held on as tightly as possible to their culture to prevent losing it. Ultimately they were holding on so tight they didn’t realise how much of it was completely against their religion and now we are stuck with a lot of customs (especially at weddings) that are against Islamic teachings and are rather copies of Hindu rituals. Slowly my immediate family is becoming more religious rather than cultural which is very important to me but at the same time, we’re losing the Pakistani parts too. My mum wears Salwaar Kameez all the time but at home I wear pyjamas and outside I wear skirts and stuff. We eat roti (chapatti) and salan (curries) but we also eat a vast range of other foods from different cultures. It’s changed a lot now, in fact my mum didn’t taste a pizza until she was in high school! I don’t speak my language (apart from a few choppy words with poor pronunciation)  and I can barely communicate with my grandparents. When I was younger I thought I was a lot cooler than some of my cousins as both my parents were born in the UK and theres weren’t but now I can see that I was using White-ness as a standard I was trying to gain. 


I’ll never be white enough for British people and never brown enough for Pakistani’s. 

Despite the fact that London is massively diverse with all sorts of racial backgrounds, I somehow managed to end up in a class in university of twenty white people and myself. There isn’t anything wrong with this of course, it just makes me feel a little alone sometimes. Not only am I the brown girl, I’m also the Muslim girl with the thing on her head. ‘Can I touch that? How do you do your scarf? How long is your hair? Do you even have hair?’ and my personal favourite ‘Do you wear that thing in the shower?‘ 

It’s very hard being a token to other people. Especially with all this crap going on in the world where the idiot killing people is Muslim, I seem to have a lot of people ask me questions as though I’m the Muslim encyclopaedia. It means I have to learn my religion inside out which, although isn’t a bad thing, makes me hyper-aware of everything I do. If I be rude to someone or lie a lot or whatever, it will be the thing they constantly judge all Muslims or all South Asian people for. That really sucks. We don’t have much individuality.

What I’d like to see more of: Accurate Depictions of London POC

One thing I really hate in stories set in London, is the abundance of white characters and maybe some random-ass 2D black character in the background. Apart from my university class - which is just a weird accident - I have definitely met more PoC than white people! Obviously some areas are more white than others but there will always be a range of different races. Where I live there are loads of Jamaicans, Indians, Somali and Polish people. Some areas will have two main races, for example Hendon in North London is practically Afghan on one side and Orthodox Jew on the other. So writers with all white characters in London are deluding themselves. Our national food is curry for Gods sake!

Our slang also relies a lot on other cultures and dialects. For example there are a lot of words from BE (I see you call it AAVE on here but I’m assuming that’s American?) because they become ‘cool’ from music and media as well as other words in different languages. All my non-Muslim friends say wallah bro? after everything, meaning ‘I swear to God’ in Arabic and a lot of them say salam when they see me, shortened from the Arabic phrase as-salamu alaykum meaning ‘may peace be upon you’ which is the Muslim greeting. I’m sure there are others but I’ve probably written too much already. Sorry if this is too long and I hope someone can find it helpful! :3

Read more POC Profiles here.


when i was 4 i begged my mom to let me change my name to something “normal” like samantha or anna. when i was 6 i came to school in my salwaar kameez for my birthday and the kids in my class made fun of me to the point of tears. when i was 8 i asked my mom to stop packing me lunch so i could eat what all the other kids were eating. when i was 11 i almost got sent home because of my mendhi because the school thought i was promoting tattoo art. when I was 14 one of my friends told me all of my accomplishments up until then we’re just the doing of me being indian. when i was 18 i got catcalled by a stranger that wanted “to be with an exotic girl”
the same kids that made fun of me for my bindi are now wearing it to music festivals as “rhinestones.” the same girls that taunted me for my thick brows are now spending money to fill theirs in. the same people that made fun of my religion am, these years are now taking pictures of themselves smoking in front of my gods. they’re getting om tattoos bc they think it’s hip. they’re writing their name in Hindi bc they think it’s pretty.
do you see the problem here?


The first time I felt like a real person, I was having a beer and listening to Canadian poet Rajinder S. Pal read from his book Pulse. Both were new experiences — I was in my mid-twenties and had only recently started drinking, as well as going to poetry readings — but it was Pal’s words that were most revelatory. He spoke of watching his mother makechapattis, the rustling sounds of her chiffon salwaar kameez, her hands and sleeves stained with flour, a scene as mundane as it was intimate. A commonplace moment from my own life, watching my mother do the same hundreds of times, felt hidden from most of the culture I lived in. But in a pub in the southeast corner of downtown Toronto, I felt those two, disparate halves of my life — the Western and the Indian, a pint of amber lager and South Asian poetry — briefly fused.

It wasn’t until many years later that I felt a similar rush of recognition, but this time, it was while watching Lilly Singh’s video “Sh*t Punjabi Mothers Say.” Singh, better known as Superwoman, is of course the wildly popular YouTube star who rose to fame makingcomedy shorts and rap videos. From an Indian family in the sprawling, diverse Toronto municipality of Scarborough, Singh has become known for her gregarious, upbeat persona and humour that derives much of its pull from her status as a child of South Asian immigrants. Now, with more than 9 million YouTube subscribers, she’s made the inevitable move from Toronto to Los Angeles and has landed parts in the upcoming Bad Moms and Ice Age: Collision Course, in addition to appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Her first book will be published next March.

“Sh*t Punjabi Mothers Say” is still one of Singh’s more popular videos, with around 6.2 million views. She plays a cartoonish version of her own mother, going through the clichés familiar to many Punjabis: idle threats of violence, the relentless questioning, all delivered in that particular Punjabi idiom. On its own it isn’t much, just an acting out of common phrases. But it resonated for the same reason Pal’s delicate verse cut so deeply: A feature of my own life missing from public view was suddenly made visible, the hidden intimacy of immigrant life now splashed onto the canvas of the world. When you are a minority, it is no small thing to finally see yourself.

(read more)

anonymous asked:

whats the difference between culture appreciation and culture appropriation, because in that pic you're wearing salwaar kameez which is traditionally worn by pakistani women, and i'm pretty sure you're not pakistani, doesn't that make it culture appropriation?

Cultural appropriation is trying to steal and claim a culture that is not yours, like having traditional dress being associated with your culture. So for example, feathers In the hair is apart of the Native American culture and it has a deep meaning. White people have culturally appropriated that look and called it “hippie fashion”. Completely ignoring the origins of that look

Cultural appreciation is appreciating the beauty of a culture and giving full credit to that culture. I am appreciating the dessi culture and recognizing that the beautiful outfit I’m wearing is from Pakistan. Im not claiming,renaming, or stealing the outfit.

theladyniamh  asked:

Hi! One of the character's I'm writing is of Indian descent. I've been looking at a lot of Indian fashion designers (specifically Anushree Reddy) for inspiration for her clothing, but I'm not sure if that's culturally accurate. I know that India itself is a very diverse region in terms of clothing and attitudes, and I guess to put it into words, I'm wondering what the perception of designer fashions are within Indian culture. Thank you in advance for your help!

Designer Fashion in India

Christ, you had to go and ask the one straight male mod a women’s fashion question, didn’t you?  xD

So, based on what you say here I have to make a couple of assumptions to be able to answer this: 1) this story is contemporary, not historical, and 2) this character lives in India, not the diaspora.  If either of these is not true, you’re looking for a different answer than what you’re going to get.  Clothing and fashion attitudes naturally varied greatly throughout history, and today fashion in India itself can been quite different from fashion in the diaspora community, just be aware.

The first thing to realize is that designer fashion isn’t something that people are going to wear everyday, even in the west, and similarly in India.  Something like Anushree Reddy is what someone might wear to her wedding reception, not to work and certainly not for wandering around Delhi or someplace.  So if you’re looking for inspiration for everyday clothing, high fashion designers are probably the wrong place, unless your character is the upper class type who would wear designer clothing every day (I don’t personally know many people like this, either in the US or India, so that’s what I’m going on).

Typical (young—I’m assuming this is what you’re after?) women’s clothing that I’ve seen on the street in India usually draws from traditional Indian clothing with a modern twist.  This can be anything from jeans with a printed or embroidered top that might have some sort of Indian-styled design to a salwaar kameez with a dupatta across the chest and shoulders.  Saris might be more common among older women (not too much older, like 40s+ even), but some young women will wear saris as well, so I’d have to see some data to state anything on this one way or another.  You won’t wear your best clothes every day (have you ever been to an Indian city?—not usually the kind of place you want yours nice clothes dragging on the ground), but even normal street clothes tend to be pretty colorful.  It’s just that designs will typically be printed rather than embroidered or sequined or something.

These are all very broad strokes I’m painting with, because trends will vary between communities, so whether you come from a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Jewish, or atheist/agnostic background will dictate some of your patterns of dress, and then within that, your family’s and your personal level of religiosity will have some say in how you dress and how much you cover up, as will your environment—that is urban or rural. The tendency across much of India is toward light and airy clothes because it’s usually very hot, but it’s also a pretty conservative society so modesty is emphasized as well (for women more than men—did I mention the sexism?  Because there’s also the sexism). 

But again, these are tendencies and not rules, so you’ll have to do some research into the background of this character and how those attitudes might affect her manner of dress.  While high fashion might be a place to start, it’s usually not something that someone would wear every day and every place, even if she can afford it.

~Mod Nikhil


Payal Singhal’s ‘Char Bagh’ Winter Festive Collection is an edgy and modern take on classic silhouettes.  Flowing fabrics combined with geometric patterns in soft black silks with blush and gold accents exemplify the modern indian woman: fierce and feminine.  I think I might make an appearance in the Bahar Suit at the next wedding <3