Five weeks ago I got to write the first-ever #Trending issue to feature some amazing South Asian women and their work. In honor of that, every fifth Trending post will be themed! So if it's your first time here, let me introduce myself before we drive in. Hi, my name is Shikha, every week I feature content from the Desi diaspora which aims to inspire, educate, and empower.
This week we're talking about 5 South Asian influencers you have to FOLLOW! To mix things up I'll be focusing on influencers from 5 different South Asian countries.
1. Bangladesh: Nabela Noor
Nabela Noor is a 29-year-old Bangladeshi-American influencer. She is known for her viral Instagram video on self-love, which was viewed by millions and even reposted by brands like Too Faced and Huda Beauty. She uses her platform to empower several powerful, yet marginalized communities including the plus-sized community, the Muslim community and the South Asian community.
I love Nabela because she's a HUSTLER. Alongside her husband, Seth, she founded a digital media company called Love & Noor. Love & Noor has churned out several successful projects founded by Nabela such as - Zeba - a lifestyle brand that focuses on body positivity with over 100K community members, Nabela Noor Home - a modern homemaking community and Noor House - non-profit organization scholarship program based in Bangladesh.
2. India: Hamel Patel
Hamel Patel is most known from her photoshoot where she recreated Disney Princesses with an Indian twist. It went viral and was featured by BuzzFeed, Insider, and Cosmopolitan, among others. In 2018 she posted her first recreation of Snow White with the caption "Growing up I always wished there was a Disney Princess I could relate to, one that represented where I came from. So I came up with this idea many months ago and I'm so happy how they turned out!"
It's so incredible to have seen a South Asian influencer go viral on Buzzfeed when it was at its height of facilitating mainstream internet culture.
With over 180K following on Instagram and over 2,8M million likes TikTok Hamel continues to model for brands like Pyarri whilst also being her own creative director/photographer for several dest-inspired shoots.
3. Afghanistan: Sahara Yar
Sahara Yar is an Afghani-Indian digital influencer. She creates a wide range of content that covers fashion, beauty, and culture. Like Hamel Patel, Sahara is most known for channeling her hyphenated identity so if you haven't already, then check out her viral content on TikTok and Instagram.
4. Pakistan: Anaa Saber
Anaa Nadim Saber is a second-generation Pakistani-American, who works as an independent creative consultant, brand strategist, and model in New York City. She started a blog called "Our Second Skin" for a class she was taking, which transformed into her brand.
In 2018, Anaa launched Our Second Skin creative, turning the blog into a creative service platform. Her brand ethos is what drew me towards her - Our Second Skin is about fashion intersecting with our everyday lives.
"Our Second Skin embodies who I am, but most importantly who we are and who we can be - people who are unafraid to stand out & be known".
5. Sri Lanka: Ishini Weerasinghe
Ishini Weerasinghe is a Sri-Lankan influencer whose mission is to promote feminism, cultural positivity, and body positivity. Ishini stood out to me as an influencer because of how unapologetic and confident she is. At 21 she uses her platform to not only rep her Sinhalese heritage, but also to advocate for important social issues.
About a month ago, she came forward with her sexual assault story to support other survivors. She hasn't looked back since and continues to regulate her content to bring awareness to sexual assault and encourage other survivors to speak out. This week she took to Instagram to speak about a clinic in Sri Lanka that's advertising hymenoplasty (is a surgical procedure that restores the hymen, which is usually done for religious or cultural purposes as an intact hymen is considered a sign of virginity for some) as a means to make money. It's hard enough navigating your diasporic identity, but using your platform to tell stories that would make most South Asian households and communities uncomfortable is something all of us should be looking up to for inspiration.
That's it for me from this week! Join us again next week for some more #Trending content to come out of the Desi diaspora.
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