Half way across the world and four decades later – Diane shares the same sentiment

Have you seen the latest episode of Blackish called “Black like us”?

Executive producer Peter Saji wrote this episode that tackles the complex issue of colorism. Being a Sri Lankan American, I end up learning a lot about Black culture from watching the show and learned that they too have their internal struggles with colorism.

Personally, I don’t think I remember this issue being addressed so openly on mainstream cinema or television and yet how many of us in the world have been directly effected by this!

My heart went out to Diane and Ruby. I sometimes wonder whether my tenacity, can-do mentality, aggression and courage stems from unkind words I heard as a child.

Dad and I
My father and I – taken in 1988 when I was in grade 10

I was a lot darker than my sisters but when going to school in Sri Lanka, I must say I had a sense of belonging. As Diane says in the show, I was “no different”. Occasionally, there would be a silly relative or an adult who would say — “hah, she is very different from her sisters… not fair like them or her father — Karruppi! ” – Translates to “Blackie” in Tamil. Thanks to the wonderful parents I had, it was water off a duck’s back. Even as young as 7 I thought I was the BOMB.

Our parents can’t protect us from everything but they can definitely turn the guardrails on so we have a pulse on what’s right and what’s wrong.

If you haven’t seen this episode… I would recommend it.

To all the wonderful, beautiful people out there…. Celebrate the beautiful body you have. Roam the world with your head held high. Take your space and together, let’s change the narrative.



ak1 According to fashion designer Ayush Kejriwal , many a times he gets messages asking him to suggest something for someone who is dark skinned.

In his own words he says …

“It breaks my heart when people choose not to wear something they want because they feel they can’t due to the insecurities they have about their bodies. I feel one can look beautiful in anything as long as they are confident and happy.”

The most gorgeous coloured flowers of all sorts grow on dark brown soil and they look stunning. Nature doesn’t feel shy from experimenting with colours then why should we?”AyushKejriwal1

“Society, people’s opinion or Bollywood celebrities should not dictate what we wear. I am a designer but I have never thought about skin colours when making clothes. I wear all colours , yes I like some more than others but that’s not because I feel I can’t wear a certain colour because of my skin tone it’s simply a matter of preference. I ask all you lovely people to rise above this prejudice and embrace who you are. Style is about being true to your core, accepting who you are, celebrating all your assets, sticking to your guns, not taking no for an answer and last but not the least loving yourself. Let’s celebrate colours together with joy. Be stylish, Be you.”

AyushKejriwal2For purchases email him at designerayushkejriwal@hotmail.com or what’s app him on 00447840384707

They ship WORLDWIDE.

Execution is Everything : An Agile True Story


Never in a million years did I think I was going to enjoy teaching/coaching of any kind until a few years ago.

My younger son was in third grade and trying out for the travel basketball team in our town that was know to have  a very strong basketball following. We were there on time and as the tryouts proceeded, I sat by the bleachers, cringing as he under performed. The kid was neither fast nor accurate. After a grueling two hours, we knew he was not going to be picked.

Prior to this, I’d thought he was going to do well. He had a passion for the game and would shoot hoops every spare moment he had. That was not enough for today’s competition. He could have used an adult to have trained him. A personal coach. He needed to be taught the fundamentals of the game and ball handling. Since his father was not around to do this, I decided I had to play a bigger part in making it happen. The boy loved the game and I wanted to make sure he had all the help he could get to make it to Travel the next year.

The Story:

I signed up to coach the under 9  or U9 basketball Rec league for our city. I had no prior coaching experience and did not know the rules of the game, as it was played in America. The last time I’d played basketball was as a sophomore at a boarding school in India. The rules I remembered were different and the terms were completely new to me.

To compensate for the above, I asked the City to provide me with an assistant coach who knew the game well. The city was only too willing to accept as during that time, it was difficult to find parents who were willing to coach.

The two time NBA Most Valuable Player, Steve Nash
The two time NBA Most Valuable Player, Steve Nash

Next, I bought myself a whistle, a whiteboard and a series of Steve Nash videos. The videos helped me with planning out practice and drills. I read about the psych of a male third grader and realized they had to be kept very busy. Their attention span directly correlated to their interest and understanding of an activity. That meant I had to prepare for every minute of practice so our time was beneficial to everyone involved.

The Plan:

The U9 Team.

The first day of practice, I was nervous to talk to this group of white kids and parents. Am pretty sure they came thinking 1. That I was a guy because my name probably did not give them a good indication  and 2. That I knew the game well. Both of which was not right. I was however, straight with them. Their kid was going to be coached by a Sri Lankan, American who hadn’t played the game in over twenty years BUT I had a plan to execute and excel. Parents were going to have a part in it if their child learning the game was important to them. The boys were going to be challenged and have equal game time, no matter how badly they performed.

Sprint and Retro:

We had practice twice a week and games every Saturday. Practice involved drills and plays with suicides for mis-behavior. They were kept busy and worked hard during the hour and a half. That was essentially our sprint plan. Five minutes before pickup, we would talk about what went well and what didn’t. Each kid got 30 seconds to talk or touch base with me later. They loved it. I told them they would grow up and do this when they got a real-world job and they all got a kick from it.

When a kid missed practice, I would send them drill instructions to practice in their garage. Parents were surprised we were taking it this seriously.


None of us expected to win every game but we did. We won all but one game that season with a record setting final game of the season. Not only did they have to reset the score board to 0-0 because we were leading by 30, I am proud to say that every player on the team made at least two baskets. It was the most exhilarating moment of my life to see the satisfaction in both the children and the parents.

Gauge Results:

It warmed my heart to see the mutual respect and excitement that grew within team, coaches and parents during those twelve weeks of games.

That Fall, when my son tried out for fourth grade travel, he blazed through. He made the team and that meant I could no longer coach Rec. I did however discover that I found great satisfaction in empowering others and that with a dedicated execution plan, we end up having surprisingly sweet outcomes.

4 years later, traveling with his basketball team.
4 years later, traveling with his basketball team.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone!

This is a great time to try out a fantasy costume or impersonate your favorite person.

I’ve always been an XMen fan but that was not why I chose Storm. When I searched for a “Brown” super hero… Storm showed up on a Google search.

Hoping there are more cinnamon super hero characters in the future for me to play.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!


Can you send me some foundation from America?


Four Indian women asked me this question.

FullSizeRenderI had the pleasure of attending a fabulous Hindu family wedding in Colombo this Summer. In preparation for the 5 days of ceremony, I’d spent hours in the last 6 months shopping for clothing, jewelry but NOT makeup. I live in America and the makeup options here are plentiful. It was never a chore to find the perfect match for my skin tone.

All my preparation paid off. My clothing was in par with my family  thanks to a wonderful niece of mine who did a lot of the shopping.

My makeup though had a clear and unfair advantage over my Eastern relatives. I had four women ask me to send them a matching foundation from America.


  • 3 beauty shops I visited in Colombo carried shades that were way too light for my skin.
  • I went to a beauty salon for a trial makeup session and she used a color that was closer to the color of my palm and insisted that it looked natural.
  • Who is going to cater to this market of women wanting to even out their skin tone….. and not lighten it?
  • Let your demands be known. The supply will follow. 

FullSizeRender (1)

The photos I’ve used here are from the walls within Sephora.



Apologies for the long hiatus

I’ll come right out and apologize for this long hiatus.  Life happens and I started a fabulous new job that allowed me to pursue another not for profit passion of mine.

If there is one thing I have learned from starting this blog, it is that writing takes time, creativity and energy.  I was drained and needed to take a break. The upside is, while I was gone, others have been making progress and carrying our torch.

First among them is the Dark Is Beautiful campaign. With monthly workshops, active blog posts, advocacy for fair representation of the people in media, they continue to do an amazing job from Chennai, India.

Melanie, from Beautifully Brown keeps handing out way better tips than I could.

But most of all, we are hoping that today’s parents continue to instill confidence in their children. Tell your children they are so dark and beautiful!

I also believe that in the last 6 months, there has been some positive activity where Indian designers have used truly dark skinned models. Wooohooo! Read more about it on my next blog post.

Finally this is very difficult for me but I am going to step it up and post pictures of myself, because, thanks to my wonderful parents and family, I’ve always felt radiantly beautiful and parade around with abundant confidence.

That picture you see of me was taken three decades ago. My brother and I were brought up to believe we were great looking people. We know and knew no different.

Let freedom reign! Allow yourself to see the superstar in you! 


Just saying … there is a huge opportunity for dark people in modeling!

What comes to your mind when you hear “Victoria’s Secret”? The worlds hottest models? The brand has become synonymous with being a modeling agency. They are known to pick what the times consider to be the most SEXY women.


Some of America’s top paid models have been dark skinned women. Beyonce was the face of H&M drawing in more that 40 million in modeling revenue.

Lyndsey Scott … Software Developer and Victoria’s Secret Model

There is a huge void in this space. There is a growing demand for dark models while the supply from Asia is pretty weak. This in turn creates opportunities.

I am  wondering when some of our beautiful people from the East will capitalize on that.

Selita Ebanks … Founder of Stardom Youth Foundation, model and actress



Tanishq Paves New Path in Socially Relevant Advertising

Anyone who has watched Indian TV knows that the advertising world is truly, a whole new world, often offering a “new fantastic point of view,” with deeply imaginative, colourful, and even wild expressions. Beauty products, motorbikes, jewelry, spice mixes – all of these become more than just products: they become inhabitants of a fantastic and almost magical realm. And sometimes, these thirty seconds of moving images manage to include a social commentary in their persuasive portrayal. In 2013, Tanishq, the big brand Indian jeweler, did just that.

Directed by Gauri Shinde, the advertisement tells the story of a woman remarrying. As the woman and her soon-to-be husband walk around the pyre in the traditional Hindu custom, the woman’s daughter indicates that she also wants to walk with the couple. The groom then carries the daughter and the three of them walk around the pyre. The advertisement garnered a lot of attention for boldly and unabashedly taking on the topic of remarriage. While remarriage is not uncommon in India, it is not yet widely depicted in popular media in a non-judgmental way as Tanishq did in its advertisement.

In addition to dealing with the topic of remarriage rather boldly, the advertisement also drew attention because the leading actress, Priyanka Bose, is darker than the average Indian woman who is depicted on advertisements. In a society where there is still some premium placed on light skin, this new advertisement by Tanishq was seen as defying accepted stereotypes surrounding the depiction of beauty in the mainstream media.

In an interview with India Today, director Gauri Shinde (who went on to win many awards for her debut feature film English Vinglish), stated that the use of a “dusky” model was not deliberate. “I don’t see these differences between dusky and fair and frankly I personally don’t even want to be part of that debate because I feel there is a complex at play; against the dusky, against the fair. It’s unnecessary. Everyone’s beautiful,” said Shinde.

Shinde raises a very important point here, which is that sometimes, in our haste to uphold the beauty of dark skinned people, we (often unintentionally) end up undermining the beauty of the lighter skinned. We also tiptoe around descriptions of people, using “dusky” instead of saying “dark,” thereby still adhering to the mentality that calling someone “dark” would be an insult.  What’s wrong with calling people what they are? Dark or fair, fat or thin? These words by themselves are not insults, but we have created a framework whereby they have developed negative connotations.

Kudos to Tanishq for not defying the unspoken standards in the world of Indian advertisement, and for taking on socially relevant issues that reflect the reality of many Indians.


YOGA: By the Browns, for the Browns.

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This is Aly, a 20 year old self-taught yogini!

Since I turned twenty-two this year, i’ve really been paying attention to all of my habits. As a birthday resolution I decided to rid myself of 1 bad habit and create 3 new positive ones: workout six days a week, learn how to play the guitar, and learn four new yoga poses per week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about yoga when I first started, but since I’ve been getting my stretch-on. I feel better than ever! Thus, I decided to dive deeper into the practice and learn about the roots. What I found really surprised me!

History of Yoga:
For those of you who have never heard of Yoga, or for those of you who want to know more, it is defined as a physical, mental, and spiritual practice linked with Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain schools. Yoga presumably began in South India and has been mentioned in various vedic texts, the Hindu Upinishads, and the Pali Canon.



Yoga is popular among both men and women, and across all ages. It can be done outside, indoors, in a car, with weights or without.
Yoga has clearly been around for milleniums, even in the western world. Yoga gurus (instructors of the yoga practice) from India introduced their skills in the 19th and 20th centuries and is now a popular and effective form of physical exercise.
(For more info on the history of yoga, check out YogaJournal)


Benefits of Yoga:
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA)  says yoga is a “healing system of theory and practice”. Dr. Natalie Nevins (DO, board-certified osteopathic family physician) lists several benefits of yoga:

1. Increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone
2. Improved respiration, energy, and vitality
3. A more balanced metabolism leading to weight loss
4. more

Goal of Yoga: 
People do yoga for a multitude of reasons: to lose weight, to achieve peace, to stretch after a workout, or just to try something new. The origins of yoga stem from the need to achieve “moksha“, the Sanskrit word for “liberation”. The way one applies moksha to the practice of yoga really depends on your own philosophy, be it religious or not.  All I know is, practicing yoga every day has allowed me to feel more free than I ever have before.

Yoga Resources:

1. YogaJournal - the #1 authority on Yoga and the Yoga Lifestyle; It is helpful for all kinds of practicers, beginners and advanced. They have their own magazine too!

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2. Yoga U Online – Yoga “University” for aches and pains, chronic diseases, emotional health, wellness, and longevity.


3. Instagram – surprisingly, Instagram is the social media home to real-life yogis all over the world! My favorite page is one by a 20 year old self-taught yogi, Aly. She completed the famous Kayla Itsines workout regimen and decided to teach herself the art of yoga. I love following Aly because not only is she a brown babe with some amazing moves, her leggings and sports bras are cuter than ever. Some of her photos are below!

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 5.03.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 5.04.40 PM



France likely to ban super skinny models

According to Reuters on March 16th 2015,  France’s government is likely to back a bill banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining the modelling agency or fashion house that hires them and sending the agents to jail, the health minister said on Monday. Italy, Spain and Israel had already adopted these measures in 2013.

thin woman
Isabelle Caro, an anorexic former French fashion model, died after posing for an awareness campaign

This is a measure that been taken to battle anorexia among teens and young adults.

The bill’s amendments also propose penalties for anything made public that could be seen as encouraging extreme thinness, notably pro-anorexia websites that glorify unhealthy lifestyles.

There has been an explosion in advertising and viral media in the last 30 years that has caused negative body image to be a problem in many parts of the world. Although there maybe those who are against government legislation in private sector, sometimes we need rules to protect us from ourselves.

Thanks to Reuters and The Tribune for details.