"every single girl that was cast was North Indian, super-fair skin."
A US South Indian model has spoken about colourism within the Desi community.
Los Angeles-based Kaaviya took to TikTok to discuss the “scarcity mindset” she sees people operating in, as well as colourism within the Desi community.
Fashion Nova ambassador Kaaviya began:
“Eat with me while I say controversial s*** about the Desi community on social media.”
She said that being in spaces that “are not intended” for them can lead to “shame”.
Kaaviya said: “I think a lot of people in our community feel shame when they enter spaces that are not intended for us, aka entertainment, beauty, modelling, all of that.
“The last thing I need is insecurity. People around me are operating in a scarcity mindset, and the mindset of those around you is contagious.”
Recalling her own experience, Kaaviya revealed she wanted to walk for an Indian bridal show but was told she “wasn’t a good fit”.
She continued: “I watched the show and I saw some girls in the show and I noticed something about the show, which was that every single girl that was cast was North Indian, super-fair skin.
“The way that felt to me was that the Indian standard of beauty, which is mainly based on skin colour, still exists within our community.”
The 24-year-old argued that in order for her to “break that shell”, she “needs” to ensure that she doesn’t surround herself with people that “still have very outdated mindsets”.
Kaaviya said: “The idea of being in a group where I’m only creating content for other Desi people and putting myself in a box really is not something that’s congruent with my long-term goals.
“I want to be able to teach other minorities that you don’t have to just cater to your particular niche or niche you think you’re supposed to be in.”
She believes women of colour should feel empowered to create content for everybody.
She added: “I make a lot of brown-girl-friendly content and I’m very passionate about that because there’s a lack of brown-girl content.
“But I also believe in my ability to make content for a very wide audience.”
@kaavikiwiif yall wondering why i’m always saying “south indian south indian south indian” THATS WHY.
Kaaviya captioned the video:
“If yall wondering why I’m always saying ‘South Indian South Indian South Indian’. THAT’S WHY.”
Other TikTok users praised Kaaviya for her advocacy for increased South Indian representation.
One person said: “I’ve witnessed many situations where South Indians – regardless of their skin colour, would be excluded, simply bc they’re South Indian.”
Another wrote: “I used to get bullied for having darker skin and curly hair that it made me so insecure so thank you for sharing this!!”
A third commented: “Real, I’m glad people are speaking up about the Desi community in general and its values.”