Growing up I didn't see myself represented in mainstream media. For my kids, having South Asians on 'Bridgerton' will change their lives.
- Growing up, the only place I saw myself represented was in Bollywood movies.
- Now my kids get to see people like them everywhere, thanks to shows like "
Growing up in the 1990s as a brown teenager in New Jersey, the movie theater was one of the few places where I felt seen — quite literally.
Fellow moviegoers would see Bollywood movie posters as they entered the theater, and movies like "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" would be flashing in marquee letters alongside "10 Things I Hate About You." It was like a silent declaration to my high-school peers: "Look! These are my people! They're brown! They're just like me, except more beautiful, famous, and talented!"
Lucky for my three kids, they get to experience the same type of representation from the comforts of home — and from the moment they're born. They're growing up in a world where they can see themselves reflected in everything from the food they eat, the books they read, the clothes they wear, the popular shows everyone watches, to the toys they play with.
As a mom, it's a relief that they'll grow up feeling like they belong, rather than trying to fit in. As an entrepreneur, it gives me pride that I am a small part of the movement that's enabling this paradigm shift. And as an immigrant, it gives me hope to see the strides our generation has made since I first moved to the US in 1992.
Change begins when those who control the narrative are underrepresented themselves
Charithra Chandran, who stars in "Bridgerton" this season, is the latest cover girl for "Teen Vogue."
This is noteworthy for two reasons: First, an executive producer of the popular show, Shonda Rhimes, is a woman of color and was instrumental in casting an Indian family for the season's lead story. Second, the editor in chief of "Teen Vogue," Versha Sharma — a South Asian woman herself — seized the opportunity to spotlight the rising star rather than relegating her to the inside pages.
As viewers, we often only see representation on the big screen, but the true movement is happening behind the scenes. While we credit Mindy Kaling for creating "Never Have I Ever," a show centered around an Indian American teenager's family, it was Bela Bajaria, a Netflix executive, who encouraged Kaling to put pen to paper. Brown women are in charge, and it's making us all feel seen — and changing the world for our kids.
My kids are fortunate enough to grow up with representation being the norm. It's found in books they read, like "Laxmi's Mooch," which tells the story of a little girl who gets mocked for having a mustache — a story I know all too well, and one that could very well repeat itself as my daughters enter school.
Most children's formative years are spent the same way: with toys, books, and — let's face it — screen time. But thanks to Hindu cultural toy brands like the one I cofounded with my brother, Modi Toys, and animated shows like Disney's "Mira the Royal Detective," Indian American children like mine get to see themselves everywhere, from playtime to story time.
South Asians aren't having a moment — we're gaining momentum
With a single scroll down your Instagram feed, it's easy to think South Asian folks are having a moment, thanks to major wins like Hasan Minaj selling out his national comedy tour, Payal Kadakia selling her unicorn company, or Lilly Singh releasing a second best-selling book.
To reduce these epic milestones to a mere "moment" suggests they're fleeting. If anything, we're gaining momentum and moving toward a world in which this won't be a major topic of discussion for our kids.
They'll see representation in the spaces want to be and the careers they want to have.
If there's one thing I've learned since that night at the movies as a 16-year-old, it's that you truly have to be the change you wish to see. With more South Asians in the roles of executives, editor in chiefs, entrepreneurs, authors, and more, change isn't only possible. It's inevitable.
Avani Modi Sarkar is the cofounder of Modi Toys and a mother of three.
- The world's oceans last month were warmer than any other May since the beginning of the 19th century
- Google Pixel 7a Review - Pixel experience for the masses
- 10 Must do activities on your next trip to Goa
- Domestic GDP growth on firm footing, growth slightly revised upwards: SBI study
- BMW M2 comes to India: Here’s how it compares with top sports cars in the country