Happy Holidays! After a tumultuous political year that has left us both emotionally and mentally drained, to say the least, we continue to push forward in the hopes that 2018 will be easier to tackle and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will be fruitful.
Politics aside now is the time to reflect on how far we’ve come as a team of volunteer writers who live across the world with different backgrounds and professions, joined together by passion and the desire to build upon one common goal—a website dedicated to empowering South Asians living in the diaspora.
We face enormous challenges everyday—limited time, funds and resources, to name a few, but somehow we make it work. The Brown Girl team has diligently published more than two captivating stories a day, empowered hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide, engaged with more than three million social media fans, partnered with more than a dozen sponsors and colleagues including MassMutual, ShanFoods, Rent it Rani, Sampat Jewellers, JaiJaiHooray, and continue to be a thriving platform for more than 150 dedicated contributors.
This year, we’re the most excited about our new parenting and wedding content we’ve been publishing to the website because it’s unchartered territory.
We recently co-hosted a swanky New York City Diwali extravaganza with Doonya’s Rohan Sheth to raise funds for The America India Foundation’s LAMP initiative providing education to the children of migrant workers.
We started producing content with a new team of contributors in London, partnered with Indian-American hip-hop artist Raja Kumari to launch her single “The Come Up,” and produced a video for Holi that gave light to the holiday’s myths.
With more than 700 original stories, we’re proud to share that we’ve seen more than two million page views this year from countries including, but not limited to, the United States, Canada, India, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Australia, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. But our stats mean nothing when we realize the impact we’ve made on young brown folk who visit us when they feel lonely, out of place, weak, shy, sad, and/or embarrassed of their hyphenated identity.
Don’t let our mission to empower young women mislead you from an important and surprising stat—more than 30 percent of our readership is comprised of young men, which proves the feminist movement has truly evolved, and it continues to grow with the amazing group of supporters and partners we’ve worked with in the past.
So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for supporting our journey. And, to celebrate our growth and success, we’ve put together an amazing holiday gift basket full of goodies.
To enter, please take our five-minute survey below, which ends on December 31, 2017, at 12 p.m. EST. One lucky winner will be selected at random and announced during the first week of January.
And a few select items from our line-up of wonderful sponsors—SaffronFix, KISSBOBO Makeup, Two-Step Sari, LashStash, Fun-dit, and Skin Sutra Skincare—who’ve graciously opened their hearts to support the Brown Girl community.
It shouldn’t be this hard to cook fresh, healthy Indian food, quickly and without costing a fortune. Say goodbye to HelloFresh and namaste to Saffron Fix. The gift basket includes two pantry-kits of your choice, one box of sweets (soan papdi), and a $50 gift card.
Their service offers all the spices, pre-chopped vegetables and a beautiful, easy to follow recipe card, all in a box delivered right to your doorstep. Each box also comes with rice and an option of naan or rotis.
Visit their website today, pick a recipe and delivery options, receive it on your selected date and cook a delicious meal within minutes! Use discount BGM25 for $25 off your first order.
*Every 10th entry will be mailed a seven-piece makeup brush set directly from KISSBOBO headquarters.
You may have seen KISSBOBO’s invisible adhesive bra that comes with a drawstring on Instagram—the one every influencer has been raving about because it’s got the perfect fit. But more recently, the company launched its seven-piece vegan brush set that covers all your basic needs of makeup.
The seven-piece set includes an Eye Sweep Brush, Angled Blush Brush, Eyebrow Brush, Powder Brush
Concealer Brush, Foundation/Contour Brush, and an Angled Eye Shadow Brush.
The brushes consist of synthetic fiber bristles, which means no shedding, no chemical smell, and best of all, they’re cruelty-free for your skin!
Each brush is also made with an Ergonomic design so it comes with an anti-slip handle, and the well-made rubbery material gives you a comfortable and sturdier grip for longtime use.
The name in itself should give you an indication of the next gift. Yes, you guessed it right—Parul Das, a mother of two, wife, attorney and entrepreneur—invented the two-step sari, which has revolutionized the traditional sari to include a petticoat and pre-formed pleats, all attached to a discreetly expandable waistband. You can pull it on like a skirt and drape the pallu as desired.
The winner will be given the option to choose their favorite from the available styles—the royal blue, emerald green or the coral.
Skin Sutra’s daily serum contains potent growth factors that have been extracted from Adipose Stem Cells to repair skin damage. These growth factors work to accelerate your skin’s ability to repair lines, wrinkles, weak, lax or dull skin. The antioxidants help reduce the appearance of skin redness, fine lines and wrinkles and the peptides reduce the signs of aging.
Shweta Marda, the founder of Create to Nurture, Inc. and author of Fun-dit, was born in India and always remembers celebrating festivals with gusto and spirit. Now, as a mom, living in the U.S., she is always trying to create fun ways for her kids to enjoy Indian traditions and culture in a modern way.
“A few years ago during Christmas, Elf on the Shelf left me thinking, I was worried that my kids weren’t connecting their Indian roots. So I created Fun-dit—the fun Indian pundit! It’s a toy-book duo that introduces kids to simple Indian traditions in a fun, new way. His magical ponytail inspires imaginative play and teaches how to enjoy Indian traditions.”
Five percent of the company’s revenue is donated to akankshafund.org to help educate disadvantaged children in India.
The gift basket includes the toy-book duo—perfect for your favorite little one.
Holistic beauty trends are more prevalent than ever — that makes ayurvedic beauty brands incredibly sought-after, as well. Do you find yourself asking what your beauty products are actually made of? A lot of us even resort to food products for a skincare routine such as honey for face wash.
The term “Ayurvedic Beauty” is getting more recognition outside the South Asian world as well.
Ayurvedic beauty is coined upon the term “Ayurveda,” which originated in Hindu culture as the basis of utilizing the five life forms — air, water, ether, fire, and earth — to heal the human body.
Is your skin feeling a little dry this winter? Nourishing your skin with body oil will lend it the right amount of moisture — Soma Ayurvedic’s jasmine body oil can do that trick! Shop the oil, and their full line of products, here.
If you’re familiar with author and podcast Host, Jay Shetty, then you may have heard of his tea line, Sama Tea. Herbal teas provide many natural benefits. Has it been a stressful week? Try their lavender rose chamomile tea for some TLC. Check them out here.
Know the Netflix show “Ginny & Georgia?” Loved the actress’ fresh-looking skin? Sahajan Skincare is behind that glow! They’re a must-try, featured in both Vogue and Elle India. See their full range of products here.
This unique company showcases its brand with an emphasis on ‘holistic.’ Whether it’s bad hair days or excessive shedding, not only do Shaz and Kiks provide the products to help but also break down the science behind the problem. Go on your very own shopping spree by clicking here!
Looking for accessible ayurvedic beauty products? Look no further! Ranavat is now in Sephora. With a beauty line that covers both hair and skin, there’s something here for everyone. See for yourself here.
Are you looking for brown skin-friendly sunscreen filled with nutrients? Look no further. Inde Wild has its very own SPF 50, with natural substances such as liquorice extract and cica, and it’s a mineral SPF suitable for all skin types. See what the brand is all about and shop it here.
I’m always in the market for brown girl-friendly lipsticks, and ones that are made of natural ingredients are a huge plus. Mango People does just this with their unique lipstick colors that suit all brown skin tones. Try them out here!
Need to swap out your shampoo for something better? Try Kama Ayurveda’s Ayurvedic Hair cleaner, infused with a variety of herbs and pulses with key ingredients like vetiver, tulsi, rose, moong beans, and shikakai. They have a variety of products to choose from so start with your hair and keep shopping for more here!
Just getting into skincare and don’t know where to start? PRATIMA skincare has starter sets, with basics, that every woman can use such as vitamin C serum, essential oils, and collagen creams. Grab yours now by shopping here!
Struggling with hair care recently? Fable & Mane includes various hair oils in their collection that help grow and nourish your hair. Not only that, they have a scalp detox line as well — definitely worth checking out. See their full range of products here.
If I DM my friends a bunch of videos on any given day, one of them is almost always an Ankush Bahuguna reel. When I first stumbled upon his content, I saw him as an actor and a comedian, lifting our mood up during the lockdown one video at a time. However, his day-to-day content is more than just that — Bahuguna is changing the landscape of the beauty industry by making (and holding) space for men who aspire to be makeup artists and who have a passion for all things beauty.
Content creator, makeup enthusiast, actor: Which title do you resonate with the most? And, why?
A creator is the word I’d resonate with the most — that’s what got me here — creating comedy, creating beauty content. Even as an actor, I’m very collaborative. I tend to weave nuances around a character and make it my own. I believe, no matter what you do, your work should be unique to you and that can only happen when you build it up yourself.
How did “Wing it with Ankush” come about?
Till three years ago, I used to work for a media house that had a whole team of stylists and MUAs working on every shoot. So when the world went into lockdown, I realized I would have to don all those hats myself. I used to [regularly] shoot videos with my mother and she didn’t know anything about makeup either. So I had to try my hand at it — I would do her makeup and we’d shoot videos together. Soon I realized how much I enjoyed learning a new skill from scratch. I used to paint as a kid, so makeup just somehow made sense. It felt like even though I had a whole lot to learn, it came naturally to me. I decided I would journal these experiments [on] a ‘secret’ page called Wing it With Ankush so that I can look back at it five years from now and see what I was up to [during] lockdown. I didn’t tell anyone about it. But people eventually discovered it and there was no looking back!
One word for gender stereotypes?
One word: Ingrained. It’s so deeply ingrained in us that we find it hard to just accept people the way they are.
How is (or isn’t) India evolving in terms of stereotypes?
We are definitely evolving. It’s a slow process but there’s hope. There’s a long way to go and for starters, I wish people could give non-cis people as much respect, appreciation, and credit, as they give to cis people like me, especially in the beauty space.
Must-have makeup products for men?
Makeup ‘must-haves’ are very subjective across all genders. Some people can’t do without a full face of makeup, while others could care less. I feel nothing is a must-have. [D]on’t wear makeup because you feel you need to, wear it only if it makes you feel good. My must-haves would be a color corrector, concealer, and powder.
Favorite makeup hack ever:
My favorite makeup hack is to underpaint. Apply bronzer and blush before your foundation. It’s so much more natural looking.
Let’s talk about your career in entertainment. What does comedy mean to you?
Comedy is a defense mechanism for me. It’s also self-expression, to be honest. That’s how I go about my day — finding humor in mundane things. Comedy is how I see life.
Beauty Influencer Of The Year Male (Popular Choice) — Ankush Bahuguna! Congratulations! You left your audience with these words in your Instagram post: “There’s always been too much self-doubt and too little self-worth.” How does one overcome that feeling of self-doubt?
As someone who has grown up constantly feeling inadequate, it’s difficult for me to not give in to self-doubt, literally every day. But I guess the idea is to be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you are to others. If you’ve come this far, you must’ve done something right. Right?
We can’t deny that Ankush Bahuguna is going out of his way to put a smile on our faces with his day-to-day content — reels, photos, Insta stories, and more! All while paving a new path for himself and, like we mentioned before, holding space for those who aspire to be them one day. Ankush continues to push the envelope one makeup tutorial at a time, showing the modern world that it’s time to take men in makeup seriously because they’re here to stay!
The featured image is courtesy of Dream N Hustle Media.
Ever since we can recall, the Cannes Film Festival has been a merger of movies and glamour. On one side, there are hand-picked films — ready to premiere and make their mark in the world of entertainment — and on the other, audiences and paparazzi alike are served epic moments in fashion.
The festival, aimed to preview upcoming films from all over the world, invites a wide variety of guests that span the film fraternity, of course, but more recently, has opened its doors to many digital content creators, including renowned South Asian creatives.
With a more vast guest list comes a more recent debate: Cannes is a film festival and not a fashion showcase. Kickstarting the debate this year was none other than ace Bollywood director, Nandita Das, who in an Instagram post shared:
Sometimes people seem to forget that it is a festival of films and not of clothes!
In short, Das wants Cannes’ narrative to continue to focus on films.
But of course, there’s been a paradigm shift in the guest list over the last few years; this shift has allowed talents from various industries — including lifestyle content creators, entrepreneurs, etc., who showcase their work in fashion and beauty like fine masterstrokes — to walk the carpet and represent their craft, making space for others in their industry.
Influential names like Dolly Singh, Kaushal, Diipa Buller-Khosla, and Shivani Bafna — all of whom made a raging impact on the red carpet this year — weigh in on the significance of representing South Asian artists/influencers on the red carpet, and how they feel they’ve been part of this paradigm shift at Cannes Film Festival.
I believe that each step we take at events like Cannes sends a powerful message of diversity, cultural richness, and artistic excellence. Representation matters, and the presence of South Asian creators on the red carpet at Cannes helps broaden the narrative of beauty, talent, and creativity. It allows us to showcase our unique perspectives, narratives, and contributions, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive industry. By actively participating and making our presence felt, we help create more opportunities and spaces for South Asian creators, encouraging others to share their stories with the world.
Since 2015, the first time I walked the red carpet, till this year I have always been invited by L’Oreal Paris, one of the main sponsors of the event. It has always been such an honor to be invited to the festival through the makeup brand that I have been using for almost two decades, and, before my social media career began. Personally, I feel a sense of acknowledgment from such a prestigious brand, and its head office teams that sponsor Cannes Film Festival, and value the work I have done and continue to do as a South Asian content creator within the beauty space. Makeup, hair, and beauty will always play a big role within the film industry and it’s something I have always created my content around which is why I am proud to attend.
This is a proud moment not just for me but also [for] my peers and the entire content creator ecosystem given that we have reached such new global stages and presence. Of course, as you said, such film festivals, once considered as an exclusive hub for a congregation of the finest acting talents have, in the last few years, opened their arms to more people from the entertainment industry.
This is not just a sudden phenomenon with a burst of Indian creators at the festival this year but there is increased participation from non-film and non-South Asian celebrities across various spectrums from different sides of the world. Along with the many filmmakers, actors, producers, etc I also met some amazing influencers and entrepreneurs from other sides of the world. It’s amazing to represent India and celebrate and champion the advent of the digital ecosphere on such a prominent platform.
The confluence of actors and creators signified the amalgamation of traditional cinema and new-age digital influence, highlighting the transformative power of creative expression and how festivals like Cannes have become more forthcoming and progressive in their approach.
Cannes, like any other prominent festival, boasts of a red carpet that is synonymous with fashion and glitz, and I wanted to use this opportunity to represent all the amazing Indian fashion designers on the carpet besides, of course, attending the screenings. As someone who is just not an influencer but also an actress, I thoroughly enjoyed all the red-carpet screenings and meeting like-minded film talent from around the world at the event. At some point in the future, I would like to be attending Cannes for a film I’ve featured in.
Creators are often placed into boxes of where they belong and the rooms they can be a part of. Being on the red carpet dismantles the ideology that there’s a cap on how far we, as creators and as a South Asian community, can go and what we can achieve.
The Cannes Film Festival has always been viewed as the epitome of a glamorous event — everyone who attends looks like they’re living their best lives. I used the platform to share an authentic message of what the experience felt like for me. To represent all of us who doubt our potential, experience imposter syndrome, and are nervous to find their place, yet continue to push through to achieve their dreams!
As the first Indian American influencer to walk at Cannes, I hope I can inspire young women to confidently ask, ‘Why not me?’
There’s no doubt that the Cannes Film Festival is centered around films, and continues to be a unique space for the global film fraternity to bring their art and showcase their aptitude. But, creators like Bafna, Singh, Buller-Khosla, and Kaushal — a special shoutout to Raja Kumari for being instrumental in paving the way as well — have their own set of responsibilities to fulfill upon their invitation to the prestigious event. Their will to represent their South Asian identities, celebrate their industries, and continue to hold space for their peers makes their presence at Cannes more than just clothes.
All images in the featured photo are from the influencers’ Instagram feeds.