The Day After

It’s the day after the election.

I could never have predicted this outcome in a million years. My brain is having trouble processing the fact that I will soon have to say “President Trump.” A shudder went through my whole body just writing that.

Like Obama said- the sun did rise this morning. I still had to go to school, but as I was sitting in the library earlier doing physics homework, my brain would not focus on the paper in front of me. I couldn’t stop thinking about what someone had said in class earlier.

“This is going to be hilarious. We’re going to have a stand up comedian for President for the next four years.”

I turned around to see who said it- a white man, of course. It made sense though, because nothing about Trump is funny to people of color or women.

Sure it was funny when he was just a candidate, but the closer he got to the White House, the more I stopped smiling.

Everywhere I look online, I see people calling this the scariest election ever- that this is the most afraid anyone has been in this country.

As a white man, my classmate didn’t understand the terrifying prospects that people like me face. As a woman, many terrors come to mind. Like the fact that Roe v. Wade could potentially get appealed. I’m young, so the only time I’ve known is when women are respected enough to decide what to do with their bodies. When I imagine a world where that choice is taken away, I don’t picture America. I picture a dictatorship.

As a person of color, I am acutely aware of how attitudes have shifted towards immigrants. I was born in the US. This is my home. But now Trump is validating the idea that America belongs to the white man through his racist rhetoric.

So, no. I don’t find Trump funny. I also don’t plan to sit by and watch America sink. I have no idea what to expect from him, but I can only hope he doesn’t follow through with his few campaign promises.

If he does though, don’t be afraid to stand up and demand better. I’ll be right by your side.

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The Perfect Consumer

I have this drawer in my bedside table filled with lotions, deodorant, nail polish and lots of other beauty products. As I reached to the back to grab my mango body lotion the other day, I found a pile of makeup.

I don’t wear makeup often. The only times I will are when we go out for a fancy dinner, party, or wedding. Other than that, it’s my bare face and me against the world. Which is why this pile of makeup really bothered me.

I remember buying these six items at Target (yes, I did just go count them) for about $60. That’s a lot of money to spend on Target makeup, especially for someone who’s experience with make up is very limited.

At the time, my justification for spending this much money on something I rarely wear was “It’s for a blog post!” Yeah… I never did a blog post, but I did learn how susceptible to advertising I was am.

Most of the products I bought were ones that I’d seen promoted by beauty YouTubers that I watched. I used to watch channels like “Zoella,” “Tanya Burr,” and “Estee Lalonde” religiously, but now I see their videos through a different lense.

Each one of these YouTubers mentioned above, plus every single other beauty YouTuber out there does videos that are just huge ads, whether they are paid for by a company or not. For example, they’ll do “haul” videos. These consist of the YouTubers filming what they bought at a variety of stores, and because viewers are seeing products endorsed by someone they look up to, the chances are, people are going to go out and buy these products.

I know that’s exactly what happened to me. I would watch these videos and if I saw something that looked good on them, I would jot in down in my Notes app for the next time I went shopping.

This is wrong for a number of reasons. The first being something that I’ve touched on in a previous post. I am Indian. The three YouTubers I listed are white. The products they endorse, makeup or not, are not always what’s going to work for me. I have darker skin, thicker hair, etc. The way they promote the products, though, doesn’t take into account the differences we have, and it turns out I don’t really think about that until after I get home with lipstick that looks terrible on my skin color.

The second reason this is wrong is that I’m literally buying into what they’re selling just on their word. Watching videos on YouTube gives the viewer a false impression of a close relationship. They share their day with us using this intimate platform which builds a one sided relationship between the content creator and the viewer. This relationship is then being exploited to sell goods and make money.

I’m not blaming the viewer for getting ensnared. I’ve 100% bought into this system and I’m probably not done getting sucked in. I just want to open your eyes to what’s going on, because if you’re aware, you’ll start to see the advertising tactics everywhere. Not just in the case of YouTube, either.

The scariest thing about advertising, for me, is when I’m forced to question my own free will. Did I buy this product because I genuinely like it or because I saw ___ wearing it in a magazine.

I know this is a long post, but if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around. I’m currently taking a Popular Culture class at school and one of the topics we’re covering is advertising. I find the subliminal (and sometimes not at all subliminal) messaging both fascinating and terrifying, so I thought I’d share.

Let me know what you think about advertising and the media in general. I’m always interested in other opinions!

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Indians on TV

I finished watching Aziz Ansari’s TV show “Master of None” on Netflix a while ago. I loved his character on Parks and Recreation, and the message put across in this new show makes me love it just as much. Aziz Ansari is not afraid to call society out on it’s issues, and that’s why my favorite episode is “Indians on TV.”

In this episode, Dev (played by Aziz Ansari) is confronting the issue of race head on as he tries to land a lead role on a TV show with another Indian actor. A TV executive says “there can only be one” sparking a debate about the representation of Indians on TV and the arbitrary number of Indian actors allowed before it’s known as an “Indian show.” According to the white executives, there can only be one Indian character in order for the show to be popular in mainstream media.

This episode has got me thinking about the lack of representation I see in our media of Indian people. Masters of None does a great job of not only including many Indian characters, but also an overall diverse cast. However, this show is an anomaly. Off the top of my head I can only think of a few Indian characters in TV shows that are popular in the US; Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project and Cece from New Girl. There are probably more that I’m missing, but these are the only two that jump out at me right now. As you can see, there is a huge problem with the amount of non-stereotypical Indians on TV right now, which is why I was glad to see Priyanka Chopra land a spot on FOX networks Quantico. Not only did she land a spot on TV, but she landed the leading role. As an Indian American I love seeing her on TV. I grew up in California speaking English, so to see Chopra’s character on Quantico live a life not defined by her heritage is refreshing because it’s so relatable.

Besides these few characters, there is normally no one in the media to represent people like me, which I honestly didn’t think was a big deal until I started watching videos on YouTube. I’ve been interested in beauty videos, watching lots of makeup and hair tutorials. I find watching them interesting, but trying to recreate the looks is nearly impossible because most of the people I watch are white. When I try makeup that they recommended or try to recreate a hair style I love on them, I have to remember that my skin color is darker than theirs and my hair is darker and thicker. It’s discouraging to have no one to look to, no one to represent my body type or skin tone.

I recently saw this article on Buzzfeed about PoC, female, and LGBTQ+, representation in the media. The article showed the positive effects of diverse representation on people growing up surrounded by a lack of representation. I loved reading this post and seeing everyone’s comments about how seeing themselves represented on TV had the biggest impact on their younger selves.

However, it made me realize yet again, that the progress of representation doesn’t extend to Indians. The progress that has been made is great, but it hasn’t gotten to the point where I can see myself reflected across multiple media sources, like TV, movies, etc.

I brought this up to my dad once and told him that everything in the media is focused on white or black people. I said I wanted to see Indian people in advertisements, commercials, magazines, etc. He responded by saying something along the lines of “it’s best to stay out of the spotlight.”

At the time I agreed with this line of thinking, because flying under the radar is so much safer. After seeing this Buzzfeed article, though, I realized how much I want to see someone like me on TV. It’s one thing to be tolerated, but it’s an entirely different feeling to be welcomed. I want to relate to the kids in the Buzzfeed article who are empowered when they see people like them in American movies. Growing up, I didn’t see Indian actors unless I was watching an Indian movie.

Everyone deserves to feel like they belong, and the only way to do that is to actually include them in the media.

I identify as American, but my foreign heritage will continue to marginalize me and people like me until action is taken in the media to mirror what America is really like. America is not made up of all white people and a token black or asian person, it’s a diverse country that is not accurately represented in the media, no matter how far we’ve come within the past decade.

Let me know what impacts representation in the media has had on you, I would love to hear it.

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Minimalism

Living in a college dorm for four weeks has made me very aware of a few things. First, I don’t use nearly as much stuff as I thought I did. And second, I don’t need nearly as much stuff as I thought I did.

In my dorm room I have three drawers of clothes, a space for hangers, three shelves, a desk, and a bed. It doesn’t sound like a lot of space, but I don’t have a lot of things.

I probably brought less than half the clothes that I own, but strangely- it’s the perfect amount. At home, I would stare at my closet and think the infamous saying, “I have nothing to wear!” However, here I look at the shirts I’ve brought and I just pick one and put it on. It’s so much simpler, because I know that the clothes I’ve brought are the ones I’m actually going to wear. It goes to show how many extra shirts I have at home that I bought thinking, “Yeah, this shirt looks cool,” and then never wear.

Besides clothes, I have a bunch of random stuff /trinkets at home that I’ve never gotten rid of, but also don’t use. Every time I try to do a room clean out, though, I always keep every thing thinking, “I might need that one day.”

That’s why pictures are so special for me, though. Pictures allow us to remember events, vacations, people, and feelings that can’t be shown through random objects. I would rather have a room full of pictures than one full of trinkets.

I’ve always been interested in minimalism as a concept, and living in such a small space this summer has reinforced this idea that we don’t need a lot of material items in order to function.

As soon as I get home, I plan on sifting through my room with this minimalism idea in mind. I know it’s going to be hard to part with some items because of my sentimentality, but I also need to keep in mind that during my stay in a dorm I was completely okay with a few shelves worth of stuff and three drawers worth of clothes.

PS- This minimalism mentality does NOT apply to books. I will continue to hoard those until the end of time 🙂

Let me know in the comments if you are interested in minimalism or if you live by a minimalist philosophy! If you are a minimalist, let me know about your transition into this lifestyle.

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Should you have a “Story?”

I recently went to see a Stanford Med student give a talk about med school. I have no idea if I want to go to med school but I thought it would be interesting to hear just in case. This student told us about her undergrad experience, applying to med school, and a little bit about her first year. It was all really interesting but there was one thing she said that really stuck out to me.

She was telling us about an interview that she had with one med school she applied to. Apparently these schools look at every single detail from the application and they ask tons of questions. One of the interviewers asked her why she chose to spend one of her summers coaching girls basketball instead of, say, doing research or something else that fit with her path of medicine. This med student then gave everyone in the room advice and said we should make sure that what we do during summers and free time should fit our overall “story.”

By “story” she meant that everything we did should contribute to this image of the person we wanted to be at the end of the day. I agree that there should be an end goal for who we want to be in life. However, I think that the only way to figure that out is though trial and error.

My personal philosophy is that you should try as many different things as you can so that when you do settle down on a career, you have already been exposed to as much as possible.

I’ve talked about this before, but I do feel like much of middle and high school is just prep for what’s next and that’s why I was so excited for college. I wanted to learn for the sake of learning and explore everything. However, the idea that we have to act in a calculating way and justify our choices to someone for the sake of having a “story” is the exact opposite.

I’m still figuring out what I want to do in college and for a career, but I do know that my decisions will be made based on my interests and not because I have to stay within the confines of some arbitrary “story.”

Also, it’s easier to see how all the choices you’ve made in life fit together in hindsight. For example, Steve Jobs dropped out of college but continued to take classes that he was interested in. He took a calligraphy class that later contributed to the typography in the first Mac.

You never know where you’re going to end up in life, so I say try as many different hobbies and take as many classes as you can, because you never know what you’ll find interesting until you actually try.

Side note- That’s also a lot of pressure to put on someone who doesn’t know what they want to do yet. If they don’t know what they want to do, how are they supposed to make sure it all fits nicely into one story? It’s like walking from point A to point B through an obstacle course for the first time, but being told you have to lead another group through as you’re trying to figure it out for yourself.

Those are my thoughts, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

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