As a magazine, beauty and fashion  junkie, one of the biggest criticisms I have of mainstream magazines is the lack of representation of diversity. As a teen I read a lot of  Seventeen, YM and a few other magazines but I had difficulty relating to the women and girls featured on the covers and within the ads. They just didn’t look like me. Our skin colour was different and frankly, I felt excluded. I remember thinking when looking at the covers each month, “I wonder what it would be like if a brown girl was on the cover…that would never happen though!”

To make it clear though, magazine editors and creative directors aren’t trying to portray only one type of woman, or interpreting beauty intentionally in a narrow way. In fact Editor-in-Chief of Anokhi, Hina Ansari, said it best  in the current Entertainment Issue of Anokhi:

“Unfortunately, there is a dearth of actual South Asian models in this industry…the “East Indian” (South Asian)look you refer to  does vary from country to country and region to region in the wonderful mosaic of complexions and features,” (page 8 Anokhi Hears You! ANOKHI July/August 2008 Entertainment Issue).

Hina Ansari raises a valid point, there just aren’t enough South Asian models out there to go around! Plus, most people expect a certain kind of South Asian woman to be portrayed. Yet the label “South Asian” covers a big part of the world including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the list goes on.  So we cannot expect every South Asian model to sport  a saree, or have that stereotypical Bollywood, East Indian appearance in features. Rather, I think the true diversity of the South Asian woman needs to be brought out better in both South Asian publications and within mainstream media. The complexities of our heritage will only be understood if an effort is made to show that South Asian does not equal India!

One amazing South Asian  model who has hit it BIG, who doesn’t fall in that preconceived East Indian look and broke the boundaries for many future South Asian models, is LAKSHMI MENON. Lakshmi Menon is a 27 year-old Bengali bombshell, who was first seen on the runway shows of Jean Paul Gautier and Hermes in 2006. Since then she has been the face of Swatch watches, H&M and Givenchy and appeared in the pages of prestigious magazine brands including Elle India, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Allure.

She’s hot STUFF, see for yourself! Here’s Lakshmi on the cover of Elle India April 2010:

Plus, she’s a role model for all aspiring South Asian models as Menon’s increasing presence in the mainstream fashion industry reaffirms that the world of fashion has room for women of all race and colour.

Check out Lakshmi Menon’s thoughts on her career in this article from New York Magazine from last year.

Now go ahead and suggest my girl crush post to the dudes in your life,  BUT not before you check out my  Annabelle and Marcelle Beauty Giveaway Contest!

Advertisements