@simran changed the game for brown girls everywhere

The South Asian influencer inspires me to reclaim my own culture

Simran Randhawa reminds me how powerful South Asian culture is.

I distinctly remember the first time Simran Randhawa showed up on my explore page. She was wearing a crop top, ripped jeans, and a saree draped around her shoulders and waist.

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There’s a certain kind of stereotype I grew up associating with women who wear cultural clothing in public: middle-aged, traditional, and domesticated. My thought process was shaped by a combination of my own internalized racism, coupled with the rigid separation of wedding and mosque attire versus “normal” clothes.

I was proud of my roots and unapologetic in my identity, but only to a certain point. There were lines I couldn’t cross and boundaries I didn’t even know I could push.  

When I saw Simran on Instagram, her gorgeous saree fused effortlessly with the quintessential hot girl outfit—I saw my own identity mirrored back to me. It was so powerful and beautiful I couldn’t look away—and in some ways, it felt like a call to reclaim my culture in any and every artistic way.

The post had a hashtag that has stuck with me until today: #decolonizeyourwardrobe.

Before I even understood decolonial thought, Simran was pushing me to think about how colonization has shaped what we as South Asian women wear and how we can participate in a powerful protest and reclamation through fashion.

Over the years, I’ve watched as Simran pair kurta tops with baggy jeans, fitted tank tops with lehenga skirts. I’ve seen her finish stunning makeup looks with bindis, and even sport nath nose rings with bodycon dresses and heels.

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I thought of the influencer when I learned that saree blouses were actually introduced as a colonial imposition on Indian women, and again when I saw a South Asian professor wear bangles in a professional setting.

Simran’s messaging extends far beyond outfits.

She’s a model, journalist, and creative. It’s incredibly rare for me to see South Asian women succeeding in creative fields, and as a poet, journalist, and actor myself, Simran reminds me that pursuing non-traditional careers can make for a successful and sustainable life.

One of my favourite aspects of the influencer’s online presence is her cooking account, @simsnackin, where she cooks traditional Punjabi recipes like daal, aloo parathas, and muttar paneer.

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The food she posts, whether it’s South Asian, Korean, Thai, or Mediterranean, is always plant-based and nourishing. She seems to have a genuine love and appreciation for the food of other cultures and inspires me to find comfort in fueling my body with delicious and hearty recipes.

As someone who, like many other South Asian kids, asked my parents to pack me pasta or sandwiches for lunch instead of last night’s leftovers, her messaging when it comes to Indian food has been much-needed.

I look at her Instagram account whenever I need a reminder of how powerful South Asian culture is and how creatively it can be intertwined with everyday Western life.

Though I haven’t been bold enough to rock a kurta or saree in public, Simran makes me feel like I can—and when I do, it’ll be a high fashion, decolonial moment of pride.

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