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#LetsTalkColorism: Icons to know!

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Mukti Mohan (Dancer)

Mukti Mohan, dancer and actor, took to instagram in 2018 to talk about her frustration with colourism, and the obsession that south asians seem to have with skin tone. The correlation between ‘fair’ and ‘beautiful’ has been so ingrained into our society that we forget where it came from and its purpose to make us feel inferior on our own land. Mohan emphasises this in her post and talks about not only being “unfair and lovely” but taking control of the conversation and learning to feel beautiful in your own skin. In addition to this, Mohan asked her fans regarding what exactly stood out the most as unrelatable in media representing women, and the most common theme that stood out, that defines us as women was ‘beauty’. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and as Mohan emphatically explains “its MELANIN!” and not a handicap on our self-image and beauty. 

Nikki Khanna (writer) 

Nikki Khanna is a biracial Indian-American writer and associate professor at the University of Vermont. Her recently published book, Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism is a collection of personal essays that detail the impact of colourism of south asian women in the diaspora. These heartfelt accounts aim to amplify the voices of these women telling their stories and further the conversation about subjective beauty and learning to let go of the leftover colonial hangups of their roots in order to lead more empowering lives. Her published research primarily focuses on racial identification and how this is shaped and evolves through the life and social interactions of a person. 

The Indian Feminist: Simran Kaur and Harsharin Kaur Virk

The Indian Feminist is a social platform, not unlike us at Pardesi, launched by Auckland students Simran Kaur and Harsharin Kaur Virk to share the experiences and stories of South Asian women. Through their platform, they aim to empower and discuss the important issues surrounding our community and how we can evolve from some of the more damaging ideals. As children of immigrants, they are only too aware of the double standards prevalent in our community as well as unrealistic expectations for daughters in particular. As with this week’s theme of colourism, Simran and Harsharin have used their platform to highlight the accomplishments of dark skin women and emphasise the need to let go of this idea that being dark is ‘ugly’ and how we should be celebrated for who we are and not as we look.  

Nandita Das (Actor and Director)


Nandita Das, Actor-Director, is a strong advocate for inclusivity of dark skinned desis in mainstream media, as well as colour-neutrality and discouraging skin colour-based discrimination. With Bollywood having a standing history of colourism and perpetuating the correlation between ‘fairness’ and ‘beauty’, Das is extremely critical of this and has sought to direct her own works to emphasise the importance of accepting the idea of being ‘unfair and lovely’. Her recent video, ‘India’s Got Colour’ further demonstrates how little has changed in the past few years and how much further we still need to go. The video uses common phrases like “Don’t drink tea, you’ll have dark skin” or “Don’t go out in the sun, you’ll look dusky” to emphasise the nuance and how deeply entrenched these feelings are within our community. 

Check out her video:


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