Updated: Jun 25, 2021
This project Dark Skinned and Lovely isn't just about showcasing the beauty of these incredible dark skinned south Asian women, it's also about giving them the chance to tell the world about their lived experience as dark skinned south Asians in western society - meet Karishma Leckraz.
What does representation mean to you as a dark skinned south Asian women?
"As a dark skinned South Asian women, representation gives me hope, a sense of security and makes me feel like I actually matter. Being able to see women who look like me and have gone through the same experiences as me being portrayed in a positive light and having that inclusivity that I and so many alike have been desperately searching for our whole lives creates a feeling of belonging."
We need to be seen and heard not only in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well.
Do you feel like you are represented within wider society?
"No. As a dark skinned South Asian women, we are still struggling to either be seen or heard and the majority of the time are used for tokenism when it’s a “trending” topic for social media. We need to be seen and heard not only in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well."
Growing up in a westernised society, how has that impact how you view your heritage/ appearance/ ethnicity as a south Asian in London?
"Growing up was a difficult concept to get my head around enjoying or taking pride in my heritage, appearance and ethnicity growing up in the UK as there wasn’t the acceptance like there is in today’s society, and even though it has improved slightly there is still a long way to go. I would often hide and get embarrassed of being seen in my cultural clothing, I would deny to my school friends about eating curry at home and always tried my hardest to not play out in the sun so my dark skin wouldn’t get darker. Even covering my head on days my mum would force me to put oil in my hair and spray tons of perfume on myself to disguise any smell of my mums cooking. It took a lot of unlearning as I grew up and learnt to appreciate the beauty that is my heritage and ethnicity."
Representation isn't fair within western media but also in south Asian too - how does this make you feel?
"In all honesty it makes me feel sick. As bad as the western media is with representation I think South Asian media takes first place when it comes to completely dismissing dark skinned woman and men.
Their regressive and toxic propaganda of fair/white skin continues to over shadow us....
Both in the media, film industry and society in general, unfortunately its never been somewhere I’ve been able to turn to, to find comfort. In fact it does the exact opposite. Their regressive and toxic propaganda of fair/white skin continues to over shadow us instead of realising the detrimental effects it has on a society full of self hate.
Things will never change with the industry or the celebrities that already benefit from being light skinned and from a already wealthy background. The change MUST and has to come from us and the new generation. This way it would allow for our communities to be heard not from someone's outside perspective but from our own."
Concept: Mathushaa Sagthidas @mathuxphotos
Creative Directors: Mathushaa Sagthidas @mathuxphotos
Photographer/ Photo editor: Mathushaa Sagthidas @mathuxphotos
Crowns/ earrings by Anisha Parmar @anishaparmarlondon
Make up and hair: By the models
Styled: All of us
Mathushaa Sagthidas’s photography showcases a strong interest in fine art, contemporary fashion, and styling; skills further studying fashion promotion at Ravensbourne University London and fine art photography at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL. Mathushaa’s work is often examines her identity - Tamil Eelam ethnicity and British nationality, which is a pivotal part of her work. This complex cultural identity is often reflected through traditions, history and strongly by fashion photography. Mathushaa feels that her work surrounding Tamil culture plays an important part in embracing the history and heritage. As Tamils were once considered “an enormous strain on the system” in London during the nineties, the time of mass immigration (5:48 – 6:17, Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A, 2018). Something she finds ironic as many institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum were built and have financially grown off the backs of colonisation of the sub-Indian continent. From these few glimpses of research that has impacted her artistic growth, she begun to develop to a deeper appreciation of her parents’ background and felt luckily to learn about their history first hand. This has led to an engagement in a new process of constructing south Asian identity through that projects she creates.
View the full project here.