Now That It’s Cool To Be Indian

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Something odd that has been brought to the surface recently is how things taken from Indian culture that once evoked responses of disgust are now “cool”. I read a post on the Facebook group #SubtleCurryTraits about how the stereotypical “white girl” who years earlier considered turmeric disgusting in “yellow rice”, now adds tumeric to their chai teas for the “health benefits”.

Well, the tide has turned. The teenage heart throb of my youth, Nick Jonas, chose to marry the stunning, Priyanka Chopra. But despite this change in heart by America as a nation, I’d argue that things really aren’t better. You must be thinking- isn’t this sudden love of all things Indian supposed to be great news? Indian culture may now be “in” but the truth is that I still know too many Indians who are ashamed of their culture, petrified of being labeled a FOB and are unable to erase the years of shame that we’ve associated with being Indian because of pop culture’s previous narrative. A message in which the worth or lack thereof, of an India in media was communicated by the void of people who looked like me on television shows, ads or magazines
and honestly, even within India’s own media that continues to refuse to include women of medium or darker shades on media platforms.

We still live in the same country in which I heard the white kid next door telling me that my people should get out of his white neighborhood. There are still people who are told that they smell like “curry”, presumably from people actually knowing what curry smells like. Or you still find the white guys on dating apps who only like Indian girls and treat an entire people group as a fetish. This leads to whole groups of desi people who refuse to engage in anything that associates them with their culture. Forbidden activities include but are not limited to: eating with their hands, being caught speaking their mother tongue or even spending a week in India.

The truth of the matter is that it’s not actually cool to be Indian. It’s only cool in the same way that people like dressing up on Halloween or decorating their Christian tree once a year, it’s exoticized. But even when this fad changes, I’ll still wearing my lengha blouses mixed and matched with American gowns. I’ll still try to rock my lengha skirt with a button down and my salwars pants with American tops. Because just as much as I identify as an American as my nationality, I am still and will always be Indian and that doesn’t need to be cool to you. It’s me.

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Confidence & Clothes

*See the original post on Instagram*

In retrospect this outfit was beautiful. But I honestly felt so ‘extra’ wearing it until I reached the area by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Near FIT, everyone was wearing the most creative things and you almost stuck out more plain old clothing.
I asked my friend Lauren about how she is so darn confident and one thing she taught me was how when picking between a safe sunglass look and a bold one, she chose the bold one. Part of confidence meant being okay with sticking out.
As a minority and as someone tall-ish, I always feel seen and rarely try to attract more attention. Everyone knew the one of ten brown kids in school.

But I’m learning now that it’s okay to stick out, it’s okay to be noticed and be seen if it’s for reasons that are authentic to you. Time to try out bold outfits more often I guess. 😅

📷: @mallariproductions

 

Shopping Diaries: March 2019

Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 6.52.52 PMI was inspired by Sophiewithablog to start documenting my monthly purchases in hopes of being more aware of my spending and maybe even make some changes to how I shop. This month I will only talk about clothing purchases but I can definitely talk about beauty/selfcare + home decor in the future if this is of interest to you. (I bought a rug this month!) 

The details (What I bought and kept)

Note: I don’t have pictures of me with the items but for future months, I will. 

Anthropologie Skirt ($29.99)

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I met up with some college friends by Chelsea market and I was a little early so I stopped by Anthropologie. I impulse bought the most beautiful mug and started eying a mustard skirt with floral print when my friend called. We left the store but I didn’t forget the skirt and instead tried to find it online the next day. I didn’t, but I did find this gorgeous skirt and I’ve already worn it at least 3 times. That’s $10 per wear within a month, I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth from this one. It’s super cute to pair with tall boots but is also classy to wear with regular old heels. Also, mustard has this amazing quality of being universally flattering on all skin shades, am I right?

Lulu Lemon Leggings ($80.36)

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Did you know that you can get 20% off of your purchase of Lulu Lemon leggings on National Woman’s day? I was pleasantly surprised to see my bill drop $20 when I bought these leggings.

I definitely recommend trying them in the store. A friend recommended I do a squat test, and really try them out and make sure they fit well. I initially went for some classic styles but the sales associate quickly recommended the Align leggings when I mentioned that I mostly workout with Orange Theory. A lot of their leggings are made for Barre or Yoga class and wouldn’t hold out well during intense runs, rowing and weight lifting.

These leggings feel amazing. I got a size 8 and my only real complaint is something I deal with often with leggings. They fall down when I’m really running. I also did experience some chaffing with them when I jogged for around 20 minutes.

‘Elevate Shirt’ ($18.00)

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Fun fact about me, I used to hate ‘group shirts’. I later realized that I was needlessly being difficult and decided to be okay with buying t-shirts for events or clubs. I just set my limits. I won’t buy every shirt, I won’t even take every shirt for free. I really don’t need a new shirt each year for an annual event. But if it’s for an organization I care about, maybe 1 shirt is okay? I’m a huge fan of long sleeve cotton tees and I have been wearing this shirt at home to death. It has become my favorite pajama and occasional shirt out. I ended up cropping it and love wearing it with high waisted leggings at home.

 

The details (What I returned) 

Jimmy Choo Heels (The Real Real) ($17 return fee)

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I’m always on The Real Real. I love buying used because it’s more sustainable than always buying new and I have a love for high quality items. I just can’t swallow the prices for luxury shoes. I’m not about paying $600 for shoes. But I can appreciate beautiful craftsmanship and after reading about Jimmy Choos, I decided they’re be worth it if I could find a pair for under $150.

This pair was $85 but when I got them, I had to squeeze my feet in and the heel was so high. Much higher than the picture indicated to me! I really wanted to justify keeping them. The craftsmanship really was superior. They were gorgeous and even used, they were in excellent condition. But what’s the point of spending all that money for shoes that aren’t absolutely perfect for you? They were returned.

The numbers

$135.45= March’s Total

3= Number of items added to my closet in March

Final Thoughts 

Honestly, I really didn’t spend a crazy amount. I think these diaries need to begin to include other purchases in the future because as a whole, I did some spending in March- just not on clothes. I’m really happy with all of the items I did end up purchasing and feel as though they’ll all remain in my closet for some time.

I’d love to challenge myself to buy less of fast fashion and buy more from sustainable brands that might be pricier but also sell costlier items or even just spend a little more on pieces that I know will last me a while. I can’t believe this reflection is inspiring me to spend more! Surprise?

How was your spending for March? Let me know in the comments below.

Nina

The Dress That Doesn’t Fit

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*See the original post on Instagram*

Fun fact: The dress I’m wearing here was thrifted for less than $30. It seemed like such a steal, it still had the tags on and was from Nordstrom. I bought in on a whim, assuming it would fit me. Another fun (or not so fun) fact, it doesn’t. It zips halfway and then meets the point of no return and lies open. The two halves of the zipper just decided that they refused to meet and the distance between them was too large to travel.

In the past, when I put on clothing, I felt as though it was my responsibility to fit in my clothes. That my body should change to meet the demands of changing fabric.

“When I lose weight, I’ll wear those pants”

“I’ll fit that dress after I start working out”

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Newsflash, I now eat (pretty) clean and workout regularly but as I tried my best to zip up this dress I realized that it just wouldn’t fit, that it may never fit. That my torso is the smallest part of my body. That it’s pretty much as small as it can get for me while still being healthy and that even if I lost more weight, my naturally medium frame would need to be smaller to fit that dress.

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So I decided to be okay with this dress not fitting. To be content with the fact that my bones and chest are broader than this dress is willing to wrap around. Instead of running after an unattainable and likely unhealthy perfect, I decided it’s okay for me to love my body even if it would never be a size 2 or 0. That maybe it means there’s just more of me to love.

The Truth About Solo Travel (London 2018)

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When I told my friend from church that I was traveling alone to London, her first reaction was, “Eat, Pray, Love!” To which I immediately responded, “No, not at all. I just want to explore.” The truth of the matter is that traveling alone is romanticized and although I think everyone should try it once in their life, there are lots of things to consider before, after and during a solo trip abroad. (If you’re interested in a vlog of my solo trip, watch this video from my YouTube channel.)

Here are some of my tips from traveling alone to England this past summer.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan

Then after all that planning, accept that there are some things you just can’t plan for. If you’re traveling alone, preparation is your friend. I took time to just watch endless videos of how to take the tube. Coming from NYC, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but I still got confused at times. If you get a little lost, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I planned by making sure I could use my phone abroad, packing a portable charger and travel charger. The little things can help a lot if you get stuck somewhere random at night and need to call an uber. I luckily did not have much trouble navigating around London.

  • Stay in a hostel

Even if you are the most introverted person, I think you’ll eventually want to talk to someone. That was one of the weirdest things to me about traveling alone, as an extrovert with heavy introvert tendencies, I thought I’d be fine. I constantly do things alone and enjoy my own company, but when traveling abroad I eventually became really lonely. There were times in which strangers would randomly start conversations with me and I felt so lucky to just have anyone to talk to. At the hostels I had people to talk to every night. I was able to recap my day and there were even people who offered to explore London with me or get a drink at the bar.

  • Bring a kindle or an art pad.

There are times in which I dined alone and was able to open up a book. Everyone should go to a fancy restaurant with a book to soak in the amazing comfort that good food and a nice read brings. Also, if you’re into art, this might be a good chance for you to practice your doodles and maybe even incorporate them into your journals.

  • Be safe

Here’s the reality of solo travel, it isn’t as safe as having someone with you. Don’t stay out too late on your own. (After 10pm?) I looked crazy to my friends but I had a whistle tied to my keys so that if anyone tried to attack me, I could make noise and hopefully protect myself a little. I didn’t need to use the whistle but it never hurts to be prepared.

  • Go in with the right mindset

I honestly got a little bummed while solo traveling. When recounting the experience to my counselor, she noted that sometimes the mindset we have changes our experience. Go in with the expectation of learning about yourself, try to explore more of who you are. There are so many benefits to solo travel. You can be selfish with you time and what you want to do and see. Enjoy that freedom and when you come back, take time to reflect on how you have grown from the experience of traveling alone.

By traveling alone I learned that I was capable of more than I thought I was. I had never been to Europe and was intimidated by the idea of visiting and going own. When I went back home, I felt accomplished and my sense of confidence in my own ability grew just little bit more.

Have you ever solo traveled before? If so, what tips do you have?

Is Ethical Shopping Just Too Expensive?

When I first started shopping ethically, I felt ashamed of any piece of fast fashion that I owned that wasn’t thrifted. Now that I have tried to dress ethically for a few months now, I realize that there are times when I’m okay with not buying something new ethically or thrifted. With my currently lifestyle, it isn’t always practical for me. But I can, at the very least, try my best to buy ethically whenever it’s possible. It’s actually more wasteful to just get rid of my old clothes than to actually try and reuse them in new and fun ways. The outfit below is mostly ethical and what’s kinda funny is that the ethical pieces were actually the huge bargains compared to the non-ethical pieces.

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Top: Everlane (Ethical) $25 with a $10 off code, $15 with free shipping

Belt: Jcrew $20.70 (Similar, not Ethical)

Pants: Target (Thrifted, Ethical) $8.99

Coat: Burberry (Second-hand, Ethical) $208.51, Burberry Coats purchased new retail for around $1700 for fully cotton options. When I looked online, used Burberry coats normally cost around $400, mine was a steal! (Similar, Ethical)

Shoes: Marshalls (Similar, Expensive but Ethical)

 

Thank you for the awesome photos, Mallari Productions!

How To Style a Lengha

If you’re an Indian woman, chances are that you have a lengha sitting in your closet. It feels like such a shame to me that such a beautiful garment could be worn maybe once or twice and then completely forgotten. Which is why I decided to show you some ways to style a lengha.

Special thank you to my friends at Mallari Productions for such amazing photos.

First Look: Traditional Outfit 

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Second Look: Lengha Botton and tank top 

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Last Look: Lengha Top and Leather Skirt 

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Comment down below, which of the looks is your favorite? If you don’t already, make sure to follow my Instagram account to stay updated on my latest photos of outfits.