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!

You’ll notice that over the past few months I have been reviewing some great products sent to me by the Marcelle Group. Annabelle and Marcelle are Canadian cosmetic and skin care brands that have great price points and a large variety of shades suitable for South Asians like me and women of other ethnicities.

Over the past few months I’ve managed to fall in love with a few of their products and  the great people at Annabelle and Marcelle have agreed to give away a fabulous ANNABELLE/MARCELLE STARTER KIT with the following goodies to one lucky reader of South Asian Sensation:

This $45 giveaway will light up your summer beauty routine! The contest for the Annabelle and Marcelle starter kit runs until July 31st, 2010. One lucky winner will be chosen randomly at the end of July when the contest closes and will be notified by email by yours truly.

Rules and Conditions to enter and win on SAS:

  1. First, become an official subscriber of South Asian Sensation, in order to win you must be an official subscriber to SAS!
  2. Then enter this contest by commenting in this contest post with:
  • a) your name,
  • b) an email address to contact you at
  • c) what Annabelle beauty product you most look forward to trying in the starter kit, and
  • d) comment on another blog post on SAS that you enjoyed. In your contest entry, include what other post you commented on at SAS, this is required in order to be an eligible winner!

NOTE: Contest entries will only be accepted from Canada and the US. Please be willing to share your mailing information with both SAS and Marcelle Groupe. Marcelle will be mailing out the kit to the winner on the behalf of SAS. SAS has the right to officially disqualify incomplete contest entries, so please be sure to follow directions for your chance to win.

So go ahead subscribe to SAS and enter to win!

So I know its been a while since I have posted consistently, to my faithful readers I am sincerely sorry, but a lot has been going on these past few weeks!

Here’s what’s been keeping me busy:

1. I finished my internship at Totem with CAA Magazine at the beginning of June and I officially GRADUATED from the Centennial College Book and Magazine Publishing Program.

2. I landed an awesome part-time internship at 29SECRETS.com with Editor Jill Dunn who has worked for Elle Canada and Glow. Located in Toronto’s fashion district, at 29Secrets I’ll be helping out with updating and writing beauty, fashion, wellness and relationships content for the site!

3. My boss, Beauty Editor Denise Wild at my ongoing internship at Anokhi has also been keeping me busy. Early June, I worked on a beauty photo shoot for the upcoming Fall issue where I finally got to meet Anokhi’s Editor-in-Chief Hina Ansari -a vibrant and intelligent woman- and have been interviewing some wonderful DESI BEAUTY MAVENS for some copy that will appear in the Anokhi issue that drops in September!

4. My fiance and I have been busy planning the details of our south-asian wedding—from sending out invites and finalising our last few vendors. In the next couple of months be sure to stay tuned for details of the most awesome and professional SOUTH ASIAN WEDDING VENDORS in the business that we are using this September!

5. All last week I soaked up the SUN in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my family for our annual family vacation, We stayed at the RIU PALACE PACIFICO, a beautiful property with great food, drinks and entertainment.

So basically its been a really crazy month! But in all this time I’ve had a lot of time to think up of great new things to share with all of you. So stay tuned for great beauty product reviews, South Asian – Punjabi wedding info, cultural musings, and my first official blog contest over the next few weeks. As always I will continue to blog about anything South Asian that interests me and my readers so read on and let me know your thoughts!

Follow me on Twitter @PreetsD

In the last  4 months I’ve been finishing up course work for my publishing certificate, attending vendor appointments with my fiance for our wedding in the Fall, and interning at two magazines. Basically I spend a lot of my time  on public transportation – whether it’s a municipal bus, subway, TTC streetcar or the GO Train -to get around.  During all of my time  on the road when I am not taking a cat nap to catch up on sleep, I’ve been reading.

Finding the right book or article for commuting is important:

The book needs to be simple enough so that you can sometimes only read  3 pages while  on a short bus ride, but also engaging enough to motivate you to keep the pages turning when on route in the early morning (as early as  6:45 am this past Winter when I commuted out to the Danforth area of Toronto for class!) or  after a long work day.

Sometimes it also helps if the book is big enough so you can hide from the crazies on the TTC!

So I thought I’d share with you the written word that has managed to win over my desire to just use my commutes as nap time:

1. Chantel Simmon’s LOVE STRUCK talks about the complexities of marriage, the need for communication between partners and takes a humourous and whimsical look at what can happen to a married woman when she confronts her deepest fear, infidelity.

2. Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry: Completely unique from The Time Traveller’s Wife, Her Fearful Symmetry is deeply evocative, gothic and outright troubling. Niffenegger’s novel, which I just finished last Friday, challenges what we understand as reality, spirituality, love, and death.

3. Jhumpha Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth: I can’t even put into words how much I loved this collection of short stories. Lahiri unearths the darkest of humankind’s moments in her painfully real fiction. Fine, you may not want to read this book on a Debbie downer morning, but if you want to be moved by the complexities of issues such as inter-racial marriages, alcoholism, and unrequited love then Unaccustomed Earth is your answer.

4. Anokhi Magazine : Articles in past issues that  drew my attention –  the March/April Kajol cover story , the article on marriage in South Asian culture called  Great Expectations, and the controversial feature on the swinger’s lifestyle in the May/ June Wedding issue. I especially recommend you to read the article on the swinger’s lifestyle, I love an article that causes discussion, shock, and mixed emotions. If you read it let me know what you think!

5. Fashion Magazine really made me appreciate beauty and fashion features. The farewell profile on Alexander McQueen was amazing and I also liked the article in the May issue about the trend of  Canadian designers collaborating with accessible brands, such as H&M or Joe Fresh.

Do you think international names like Jimmy Choo  and Stella McCartney lose their esteem if they collaborate with chains such as Target or Adidas? When and where do we draw the line between fashion and business?

6.  Toronto Life: The features in  TL never  cease to amaze me. I particularly enjoyed the TTC feature in the May issue because yes,  I also loathe the overcrowded situation at Yonge and Bloor and the ridiculous fare hike put into place in January!

Book’s I loved, but found difficult to read on a commute:

Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native: The book is characterized by amazing writing, language and poetic devices. Plus, Hardy discusses so many controversial issues at such a ground breaking time in history  (the 19th century), but the flow of my reading was disturbed by the constant yammering of  people on the train. Also, the subway cart sounding to a halt at each  stop took away from the luxurious experience Hardy deserves:  a comfortable read of the novel before bed, or on a lounger in my backyard.

Sometimes literature is too luxurious and precious to deal with the invasive honking of car horns and musty subway smells.

A nutritious and easy lunch item!

Serves 3 to 4

Lunch time can be a difficult meal to approach because often we all want something quick and easy, but also nutritious. Furthermore, packing a lunch for work is tiring, especially because the same old sandwich or left overs become boring. This Mango and Avacado salad is a more interesting option for a light lunch at home or for work.

You may be thinking, what does this salad recipe have to do with being South Asian? Well here is my rationale…

1) I am  South Asian and I eat this salad all of the time, its one of my  favourites!

2) Mango, the national fruit of India, is a key ingredient which gives this salad its flavour! Plus, I am sure  fellow South Asians can agree that a family get together is never the same without a mango inspired dish, or even just fresh slices of fresh mango served after dinner!

3) Still not convinced? The fruit mango  has so many health benefits: it contains phenols- these serve as antioxidants which fight against cancer. Mango is high in iron, so its great for women who are pregnant, or those who suffer from anemia. Furthermore, as a source of Vitamin E mango is  great for the skin and helps balance one’s hormonal system. So go  buy some mangoes and make this salad!

My mango and avocado spring salad: A perfect light lunch

Salad Ingredients:

1 small container Spring Mix Salad
1 Mango peeled and chopped in cubes
1 Avocado peeled and cut into pieces
1/2 Cucumber chopped in cubes
1 tablespoon chopped Fresh Chives
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds
Dried Cranberries to taste

Dressing Ingredients:

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

Method

1.Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, honey and salt and pepper in a bowl with a fork until fully blended. The blended dressing can be refrigerated for up to a week so you can even make a larger amount for future use!
2.Toss the spring mix, mango, avacado and cucumber in a salad bowl with the dressing.
2. Sprinkle with chopped chives, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.
3. Serve immediately with melba toast and goat cheese.

ENJOY!

EDITOR’S TIP: If you are taking this salad to work and want a quicker dressing with less ingredients, sprinkle a spoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s less complicated and if you really enjoy salads as a lunch item you can keep a small bottle each of  olive oil and balsamic vinegar at your desk!

Recently I was sent the Zebra Bronzing Pressed Powder in HAUTE GOLD by Annabelle along with the Annabelle Makeup Pro A-13 Powder Brush for review.

Here is the Annabelle Bronzer and Powder Brush

After testing out the product and brush for a couple of weeks here are my thoughts! I really love using producsts such as bronzer, blush and tinted moisturizers (not all at the same time of course) in order to give my face some colour. Now that the hot summer weather is officially here, bronzer helps you to “fake a tan” until you are able to make those trips to the beach for sun rays. Plus on those lazy days  simply use bronzer and a lip gloss and your ready to go!

ZEBRA BRONZER PRESSED POWDER
$10.95

This BRONZER released by Annabelle,  receives its name from the  awesome  and variant stripes of  gold shades that make up the HAUTE GOLD tint. For the last two summers the  Annabelle  Zebra Bronzing Pressing Powder was a limited edition  item, but Annabelle chose to  include the  bronzer in its  regular line  because of the  demand from and popularity with makeup junkies.

ANNABELLE MAKUP PRO BRUSH A-13 “POWDER BRUSH”
$13.25

PLUS, the  precision of the  powder brush allows you to  even out the bronzer and allows me to achieve very clean and polished face makeup. Made of natural premium quality goat hair, it has so many great uses: I currently use it both for blush, but to also blend bronzer to avoid a streaky look. The brushes were developed by Annabelle with international makeup artist Julie Begin, so they match up to more higher end brushes, I should know  as all my other brushes are from SEPHORA, ESTEE LAUDER and MAC.

To be honest I really love the HAUTE GOLD shade of bronzer  because its the right touch of colour and a subtle sun kissed look  without making one look like you stepped out of the house with a sunburn only on your face! Below are three different instances in which I used the bronzer for different looks on different days, check them out I think the ZEBRA bronzer speaks for itself!

For my regular readers you’ll notice that this time for makeup review I am trying out something a little more different by putting up some pictures so you can see how the makeup actually looks on my skin tone. I’d love to hear your feedback on the post!

WHAT DO YOU PREFER TO USE FOR A LITTLE COLOUR ON YOUR FACE?  BRONZER, BLUSH, or TINTED MOISTURIZERS?

I want to hear your preferences!

3. All over bronzer for a day look with Clinique mascara and Annabelle's Le Gloss Star lip gloss in SUPER BONBON

1. Zebra Bronzer used here to countour cheeks along with a shimmery blush for a subtle evening look.

2. Here got a more dramatic sunkissed look by using the bronzer to contour my cheeks alongside Dior's Shimmer Powder in Diamond Pop for blush. Paired with my copper-metallic eyes, this look matches my vintage chocolate brown saree.

For those of you who haven’t already heard, Mani Amar, activist and film maker from B.C. reached a breakthrough in raising awareness about gang violence in the South Asian community in Vancouver and across Canada this week!

His award-winning documentary (2009 International Sikh Film Festival in New York), Warrior’s Religion, is now officially out on DVD and available for purchase  on the official website. 

By spending only $15 on the DVD you will support a noble cause, Amar’s fight to create a safer community for future South Asians and youth of other ethnicities living in the Vancouver mainland.

On the other hand if you are an educator or a leader among social justice organizations for young people, a double disc version with discussion materials for only $25 is also available.

Although A Warrior’s Religion has received criticism from Sikh community leaders because of their misconception of the title, since the young men depicted in the film mostly belong to the Sikh faith group, the film’s name is a metaphor for the lifestyle of these gangsters who see their lives in street gangs as their way of life, salvation and thus therefore “religion.”

Since the problem of gang warfare runs deep among young men whose families are of Sikh faith, Amar’s film raises awareness for this community in hopes of preventing future generations’ deaths. The unbiased documentary includes heartbreaking interviews of parents grieving for the tragic deaths of their young sons, to tense conversations between Amar and former gangster Bal Bhuttar.

The documentary took a total of three years to research and produce for the young Amar, which he funded by working three jobs. A dedicated activist, Amar was determined to see through his goal of producing his film to bring this issue into discussion among community leaders, youth members, educators and like-minded social justice seekers.

I already bought my copy of the documentary, it’s on its way in the mail as I type, stay tuned for my review of the documentary. In the mean time watch the official trailer A Warrior’s religion at Mani’s official website now and make your purchase.

Meanwhile, what’s Mani Amar doing now: currently he is working on his first official feature film, which he envisioned while putting together the research for his documentary. Topics covered include gang violence and sexual violence against women.

Good luck in all of your future endeavours Mani and thank you for serving our community with your hard work and efforts.

So if you haven’t already heard On the Danforth Magazine is official out…try to pick up a FREE copy at local Danforth businesses and you can check out awesome articles by great writers on topics such as: roller derby (Jen Brooks), tattooing (Heather Holditch), reviews of Michael Byrson’s book The Lizard (Jacqulyn Bester), a Staycation in Toronto’s Beaches (Erin Haggett), couch potato workouts (Karen Stevens), pet businesses on the Danforth (Teresa Morgado), a profile of the infamous hot sauce store Taste the 4th Sense (Marisa Baratta), summer skin care (Shazia Khan) and much more!

I also wrote a short piece on Summer Makeup Tips and had the pleasure of interviewing the talented makeup artist Monica Kalra! Her work is amazing, but you’ll have to pick up the mag to find out her tips for the upcoming summer season!

If you like how the Roller Derby issue looks then thank our Creative Director Edward Kanerva, also the creator of the Innappropriate Cupcake cartoons which can be found on his blog, and our lovely graphic designers…kudos to  Justine Pahal. Finally, thanks to our web editor Maureen Lau whose still trucking away on the e-mag!

Cheers to my Centennial Book and Magazine Publishing colleagues – its been a fabulous year! The world of publishing awaits us and as some of us (not me) finish our internships tomorrow and  move on to the real world in search of  jobs in both the magazine and book industry, I dedicate this song to you called “THIS WILL BE OUR YEAR” -Let’s hope it is!

You’ve all been amazing and I feel fortunate and grateful to have met you, I know I’ve met some lifelong friends (you know who you are!) and I feel honoured to be working in the same industry as some you.   Amidst the slew of assignments, crazy 8:30 am classes, and all of the fun times we’ve had helping out at events in the  publishing industry its been a blast.

A special thanks goes out to Denise Schon, our team leader and program director at Centennial, and Chantel Simmons an engaging and uber-in-the-know former magazine editor and author of LOVE STRUCK (great book you should read it if you haven’t already)!

Achieve a Beautiful Bronze Complexion

With each new season changing up your makeup routine is important in order to balance the unique weather elements. Winter snow and wind leaves skin feeling dehydrated and flaky, plus you often look pale due to the lack of sun in the winter.

Repair your skin from elemental damage while  balancing warmer  temperatures by lightening up your makeup load and hydrating your skin with a UV moisturizer.

To revv up for Spring  I recently tested out Marcelle’s Sheer Tint Fluid Moisturizer  in LUMINOUS AMBER.  Usually I  wear a compact foundation everyday all-year-long, but come Spring I always found it too heavy.  So I opted for Marcelle’s tinted moisturizer in place of foundation and a bronzer and loved the results!

Advantages:

1. SPF 15 so it protects from harmful UV rays.

2. Hypoallergenic meaning it fights breakouts – My skin is really sensitive  and prone to breaking out but Marcelle’s Sheer Tint is a perfect balance of moisture and cover up!

3. Feels light and breathable on the skin -ideal for  Spring’s rainy and warmer weather.

4. Plus, the amber tint gives a glistening natural  look that is characteristic of the natural girl-next-door makeup looks seen on Spring runways. Pair with a sheer lip gloss, thin brown liner and a coat of mascara and you’re READY TO GO!

5. The LUMINOUS AMBER shade blends beautifully with my South-Asian skin tone so it doesn’t look like an overdone bronzer look either! And it covers most skin imperfections.

EDITOR’S TIP: If you have dark undereye circles use concealer underneath, then apply the tinted moisturizer over it. Check out my tip bar called “CONCEALER CLUES” in Anokhi Magazine’s MAY/JUNE wedding issue for more concealer application tips!

At just  $14.50 I’ve made Marcelle’s Sheer Tint Fluid Moisturizer a permanent part of my daily makeup routine for Spring, so should you!

Marcelle's TINTED MOISTURIZER ideal to LIGHTEN YOUR MAKEUP for SPRING!

New Punjabi Cuisine Recipe for You!

Serves 3-4 people

Tandoori chicken is a savoury dish made with a mix of great spices, yogurt, lemon juice and known for its beautiful reddish colour that originates in Northern Punjab. Pair the chicken with some veggies and pineapple on skewers for a modern twist on traditional chicken tikka! Here is my recipe for Tandoori Chicken Tikka Skewers that I just made for some friends at a dinner party this weekend, the marinade for the chicken is a family recipe and it was definitely a hit with my girlfriends. Enjoy!

Tandoori Chicken Marinade

Ingredients

4 to 5 chicken breasts cut into cubes

3 to 4 tablespoons Tandoori Masala, available at your  Indian  supermarket

1 tablespoon Chunky chaat masala

1 serving spoon of  yogurt

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

sea salt and ground black pepper  to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

Directions for Tandoor Chicken Marinade

1. Mix the  marinade ingredients together, should a liquid consistency and a bright red colour. If the  colour is not red enough add more  tandoori masala. To thin out the marinade add more oil and  yogurt.

2. Place the chicken cubes in the bowl with the marinade and mix up  with a spoon ensuring that the chicken is evenly covered.

3. Marinade the chicken overnight or for at least 3 to 4 hours prior to cook time to ensure the flavours get into the chicken well enough.

Vegetables Marinade

1 green pepper cut into  large peices

1 pineapple cut into cubes

1 small red onion cut into  cubes

chopped chives

Directions for Veggies and Skewer Assembly

1. Cut the above fruit and vegetables into skewers then lightly marinade with 1 to 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, black pepper,  cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of salt. Mix up the vegetables with the above spices in a large bowl and the chopped chives.

2.Skewer the vegetables and chicken on wooden skewer sticks in this order:  chicken, pineapple, greenpepper, chicken, onion, chicken redpepper until the skewer is full.

3.Grill the skewers on  an indoor grill on a medium to high temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure the chicken is full cooked through, meat should be white not pink!

4. Take the cooked skewers and place in foil in the oven for  10  minutes in an oven heated at 375 degrees celsius. This will ensure the chicken is full cooked through and let the flavors intermingle.

Serve your prepared skewers with fresh naan and tamarind sauce for a perfect meal. Both the naan and tamarind sauce can also be  store bought, however  a homemade recipe for naan is soon to come! Also, stay tuned for an easy recipe to make with leftover tandoori chicken peices.

EDITOR”S TIP: Are you a vegetarian? Chicken doesn’t tickle your fancy? Then try marinading large peices of tofu instead of chicken for and pair with the above veggie mix for a protein rich, but veggie lover friendly recipe. Or, if you are a fish-a-tarian, then marinade cubes of salmon rather than chicken.

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