Lovers and friends! Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Sarah (saw-rah) and y’all may remember me from my #ShesGotSoleXO feature, where I made my debut. But I’m back, I’m better and I’m taking over for Killa Cam with this post. Let’s set it off with some background info on ya girl. I’m 26 years old, born in North York, Ontario but have lived in both Atlanta and Detroit in my early childhood before my parents made my way back to the place they met, the good old Y-E-G. I started dancing at the age of 4 with the basics; ballet, tap and jazz. I quickly decided those styles weren’t for me and discovered Kathak (a classical form of East Indian dance with a heavy emphasis on self-made percussion and footwork) and commercial Bollywood.
These styles of dance really allowed me to tap into my East Indian roots, something that I struggled with connecting to as a second-generation immigrant growing up fully immersed in Western culture.I was approached by my long-time friend Camille to collaborate on a creative project with her and Emilie Iggiotti, an incredible local photographer who I instantly bonded with while serving her at North53 (we talked intersectional feminism over cocktails) and I jumped at the opportunity. Camille is the mastermind behind StyleYourLife and She’s Got Sole XO and every collaboration we’ve done together has been absolute fire. Our passions for streetwear, sneaker culture, hip hop and social justice have always brought us together and when she said she was open to any creative concepts I had in mind, I knew she was the only one I would want to style this South Asian Streetwear concept I had been dreaming of. Emilie brings a softness to her work ; a femininity and vulnerability that I usually shy away from when doing visual art. I was so excited to work with her because I’m a huge fan of her work but also because modesty and femininity are a huge part of Indian culture as well.
With Camille’s bad-bitch styling and Emilie’s dreamy photographic skills, I knew we could reach the happy medium I was looking for with this project. In Western society, WOCs are often pitted against each other and are fighting to find their places in the creative world. In addition to the unnecessary competition we are placed into, any success we obtain as creatives is more than often overlooked unless an academic aspect is involved and this is the sad reality of the measurement of East Indian success and achievements. This project was so much more to me than a fun photoshoot. This project was a testament of what brilliant women of color can achieve when we come together.
This project empowered me as a Canadian woman of South Asian descent and perfectly captures so many aspects of my identity as a multidisciplinary second generation immigrant. This project allowed Camille to shine doing what she does best and gave Emilie the opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and photograph streetwear. When I look at these photos, I see a powerful, proud, cultured and strong woman – I see the East Indian role model I wish I had as a young girl. So with that, Emilie, Camille and I present to you #BollyHood; Creative Magic from the Indo-Canadian Perspective. We do this for the next generation and we do this for the culture.
Love from your favourite brown-skinned muse,
Sarah Dharshi ♥
Model: Sarah Dharshi
Photography: Emilie Iggiotti