I am an Indian Sri Lankan American, mother, coder, runner and free spirit. Cinnamon Spirit is my first social column and has been a vessel to transport our thoughts to all who find our content relevant and useful. We hope to be a positive influence on the young and influence our communities to embrace our natural beauty.
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.
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.
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?”
“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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
I 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.
The photos I’ve used here are from the walls within Sephora.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
During one of those nights, doing some research on content for Cinnamon Spirit, I wanted to blog about the variety of shades of women on the web. So my search criteria was “Asian Women” filtered by the color black. This is what it returned …. So many different faces of women from Asia.
Doing the same for “Asian Men”… this is what it returned …Do you see where I am going with this?