Combating Eurocentric Beauty Ideals: A Commentary on Kendall Jenner on Vogue India

by Natasha Sharma

When the news hit earlier last week that Kendall Jenner is the face of Vogue India’s 10th anniversary edition, I was dumbfounded. I clicked on the Twitter link on my newsfeed, only to see her dolled-up face plastered on the magazine cover. As I continued scrolling, I saw photos of the model and Bollywood hunk Sushant Singh Rajput standing together, striking poses in front of one of Jaipur’s historic palaces. Upon viewing these images, like several others around the world, I was infuriated. Systemic racism reared its ugly head yet again, this time by reinforcing Eurocentric beauty ideals.

It is outrageous that Vogue India would select Jenner to represent their magazine in honor of their 10th anniversary. In a country of over 1 billion people, and millions of beautiful brown-skinned women from different walks of life, why on earth was it necessary to import a white celebrity to fulfill this task? There is a plethora of gorgeous and intelligent women across the Indian subcontinent and throughout the Diaspora. Vogue India’s decision speaks volumes about the lingering preference for whiteness in post-colonial societies, not to mention the lack of societal value placed on women of color around the world.

It is equally important to note the gendered aspect of colorism within the South Asian media. Vogue India’s use of Sushant Singh Rajput, a Bollywood actor, as Jenner’s co-star for the photo shoot sends a message that, while Indian men are considered “acceptable,” it is Indian women who must aspire to be as close to white as possible. This is not to say that Indian men do not feel pressured to be fair-skinned, or that they are not aggressively marketing products like “Fair and Handsome.” Indian men certainly do face their share of skin color bias. In fact, Rajput’s relatively fairer skin likely allotted him this opportunity, which he would have been denied had he been darker-skinned. The truth remains, however, that it is Indian women who bear the brunt of color-based discrimination. Vogue India’s use of an Indian male model and a white, non-Indian female model is a slap in the face. It reiterates a harmful message that women of color around the world are constantly bombarded with—that we are not “enough.”

vogue india[Photo courtesy:]

While we must acknowledge the inherent racism present in the fact that Vogue India decided to feature Jenner on its cover, we must also utilize this opportunity to reflect on the fact that even Indian film stars do not represent the vast majority of Indians. Though the magazine reached an all-time low by featuring a White-American celebrity in this instance, it is not as if the Indian media celebrates its country’s diversity the rest of the time. Lead Bollywood stars who grace Indian magazine covers, such as Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Alia Bhatt etc. represent only a small subset of the Indian population. All of the aforementioned actresses, as well as countless others, are either naturally fair-skinned or possess some level of European ancestry. How often do we actually see the various hues of brown, hair textures, eye colors, and facial features present throughout India, celebrated throughout the media and by society? It is imperative that we recognize this layer of intra-community bias as we work towards combating the white standard of beauty present around the world.

There is no reason for India to sell itself, and its people, short. India is unique in that it is a heterogeneous, multiethnic country that is home to thousands of ethnic and tribal groups. From Kanyakumari, India’s southern most tip, and Nagaland in the eastern region, to Jammu and Kashmir in the far north, and Gujarat in the west, India’s diversity is unparalleled. There are stunning and powerful Indian women across various backgrounds who deserve to have their inner and outer beauty recognized. We must work collectively to make sure that all Indian women, across all walks of life, are represented in the media and throughout society.

Additionally, as a culture, we must appreciate what we have. We must recognize the beauty and strength that exists within our own community, and not go chasing after the likes of Jenner. The spaces we have created to affirm and cheer on Indian women must be used to do just that. It is up to all of us to take a stand against the belief that “white is right” and work towards creating a society in which all forms of beauty are celebrated.

Natasha Sharma is a recent graduate of the masters in social work program at Washington University’s Brown School. Her area of focus is issues affecting immigrant, refugee, and minority youth. Natasha hopes to eventually pursue a career in the field of ethnographic research, human rights, and community development. Alongside her social justice related efforts, Natasha does some fashion modeling. She hopes to use modeling as a platform to increase representation of women of color in the media.

By Brown Girl Magazine

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17 Ayurvedic Beauty Brands on our Radar Right Now

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.

[Read Related: The Budget-Friendly Beauty Guide you Need This Spring Season]

Ayurvedic beauty brands focus on using herbs and natural ingredients to create their skincare range and consumers around the world are attracted to these natural products.

Scroll down to see some Ayurvedic beauty brands founded by South Asians.

Soma Ayurvedic

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.


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Sama Tea

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.


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Sahajan Skincare

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.


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Shaz and Kiks

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!


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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.


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UMM Skincare

UMM Skincare is known for its brown sugar body scrub, made with natural ingredients, and Bakuchi oil known to improve signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. Try it for yourself by shopping here!


Give your skin the best by adding ZAILA to your daily skincare routine! Click here and start shopping!


This brand is all plant-powered, and we’re here for it — you should be too! Check out their full range of products here.

Inde Wild

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.


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Mango People

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!

Kama Ayurveda

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!


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Forest Essentials

According to Forest Essentials, night time is the best time for hydration. Check out their night cream, filled with nutrients to enrich your skin. You can shop their wide variety of products here.


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Koppen Ayurveda

A brand made for modern living, their essentials are all worth a shot! Start shopping here!


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Looking for a new face mask to try? AAVRANI has a variety of face masks and explains in detail when you should apply the mask during the week depending on your skin type. Take a look here!


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Plant-based skincare, anyone? Delhicious has got everyone covered, so click here and fill your baskets!


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Pratima Skincare

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!


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Fable & Mane

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.


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[Read Related: 10 Clean Beauty Products That’ll Have you Winning on Earth Day]

In a world that’s becoming more conscious of holistic living, embracing Ayurvedic beauty in your day-to-day is a step in the right direction, and these brands are here to help you get started.

By Hrishika Muthukrishnan

Raised in North Carolina, Hrishika Muthukrishnan spent 18 years thinking there wasn’t much to the suburbs before she discovered how … Read more ›