HomeBad Ass Asians2013--I am not impressed
Don't Be Fooled by Gift Card Scams

2013–I am not impressed

By Priyal Patel

Nina Davaluri Crowned Miss America 2014As the end of 2013 approaches, a time for reflection begins. We reflect upon our accomplishments, memories and things we’ve gained and lost. 2013 has been particularly eventful as I am closing my first year living in Los Angeles. There’s never a dull moment when working in the entertainment industry.  I love my work and love blogging about it. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to write about South Asian entertainers in particular, especially thanks to AsAmNews.  Although I am proud to bring the work of my community to the spotlight, my reflection has made me realize that I am not fully satisfied with how we are letting ourselves be portrayed in media.  I started to look back at the big headlines involving South Asians this past year, particularly the women in entertainment, and I have to admit, I’m disappointed.

When Nina Davuluri, this year’s winner of the Miss America pageant won the crown, everyone asked me, “You’re writing about that, right?” It seemed an obvious subject for a blogger about South Asians in the entertainment industry to write about, so I did. And then I stopped. Perhaps this was a turning point for me, when I paused to ask myself, “Why am I writing about this again?”  Yes, it was the first woman of South Asian descent to win a pageant, and yes, there was a lot of racism following her win. But why should I bring that to light? Why was it such a big deal that a non-Caucasian woman won the title in a beauty pageant?  In my opinion, Ms. Davuluri handled the situation well by not acknowledging the hate surrounding her victory. However, the real question to me was, “what is the real story here?” An American woman winning an American beauty pageant. I applaud Davuluri for breaking barriers, but why, as a community, do we expect such little from ourselves?

Working in this, at times, superficial industry is difficult for any woman. With the media painting pictures of what beauty should look like and Mindy Kalingexploiting women, it’s not easy to keep perspective. The media tells us how we should look and act. We all try to become that unrealistic, photo -shopped image that is ultimately impossible for any human being to achieve. It seems to me that we are forgetting to stand up for ourselves. Instead of being proud of who we are, we are trying to fit the stereotypes we think we need to achieve in order to be successful.

Thankfully, not all women are forgetting their purpose. Mindy Kaling, a talented actor, writer, producer, and director, who also happens to be a South Asian woman, has achieved great success in the industry, without succumbing to the social pressures of portraying a sexualized self-image. Kaling was an actor and writer for the hit show “The Office,” and now stars in a successful comedy TV show on Fox, “The Mindy Project.” She has set an amazing example by not only being an intelligent, successful comedian and actress, but by being herself.  And yet even Kaling is subjected to criticism about her looks rather than being judged by her work. In a recent article for Parade magazine, she recalled,

“I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but                it’s pretty insulting.  Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings       of a very marginalized person.  You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman.  Why on                earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”

I feel frustrated that women have to constantly defend themselves. Kaling went on to say, “There are little Indian girls out there who look up to me, and I never want to belittle the honor of being an inspiration to them,” she says. “But while I’m talking about why I’m so different, white male show runners get to talk about their art.”

The fact remains that as a South Asian woman in this industry, I have many obstacles and prejudices to overcome just like Kaling and many others. As an actor, I am often typecast or even pressured to lose weight, or portray a “sexy image.” This seems to be the standard or “double standard” in this industry. I have to constantly remind myself of my talent and purpose. Whenever I see another South Asian women achieving success in the industry, I hope that they will represent my community proudly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When Priyanka Chopra debuted her musicPriyanka Chopra videos in the US, the videos were more about her body than her voice.  I’m disappointed that this is “normal.” I’m also disappointed that Chopra had to rely on her sexuality to sell her music. We, as a community, especially the famous and well known women who represent it, should set an example.

Asian American and South Asian American women alike have contributed to some of the most innovative and important issues in this country. Why don’t we talk about that? It’s our duty to represent our community the best way we can. We are not what the media tells us. We are strong, intelligent, talented people that need our voices to be heard. To my fellow South Asian women, I ask of you, that for the year 2014, we do better. Remember who you are, be true to yourself, and be strong. We are not Barbie dolls; we are the next CEOs, executive producers, and Oscar winning directors. We need to expect more and demand more. Not just of the media, but from ourselves.


  1. RE: 2013, I’m not impressed: People should always be treated with respect. But I find it self-important and hypocritical when someone wants to be considered simply “American” in certain contexts, yet spends much time self-identifying as an certain type of minority American.

  2. RE: I am not impressed: But by the current cultural definition of the country, identifying as American requires you to self identify as a certain type of minority American. I mean, look at your census questions…or really, almost any US questionnaire. The only persons seemingly exempt from having to self-identify is that subset of white people who aren’t able to able to immediately recall their first immigrant forebear. It’s obvious to the rest of the world, from the outside looking in, that that’s how you guys’ system is set up. It’s so interesting that it’s not obvious to some of you.

    Great article by the way Ms. Patel! I’m neither American nor Asian, but I definitely appreciate what you wrote.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Worth the Time

Must Read

Regular Features


Discover more from AsAmNews

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading