Simran Randhawa – better known to some as Simisear – is bearer of an extensive list of achievements, ranging from assistant political editor of Gal-dem magazine; to orchestrator of the movement #DecoloniseYourWardrobe ; to both subject and writer of Vogue. Among her loftier achievements, Randhawa is under twenty-five years old, and is working tirelessly to complete her final year of University as an undergraduate, making her work surrounding mental health, cultural and gendered issues resonate that much deeper with an audience of young women and girls able to connect to her and her words, with ease.
In the wake of widespread xenophobia Western political climates are currently exuding, and the blurred identity lines East-West upbringings foster, Randhawa is the symbol of empowerment so many teens and young adults with multi-faceted identities in today’s society need. Rooting from her shame and subsequent neglect of her Malaysian-Punjabi heritage in the face of a predominantly white group growing up, Randhawa’s work is a result of her realisation there was no shame in her culture nor heritage, for it largely shaped the individual she is today.
Her work around cultural appropriation of her heritage includes:
- campaigning to reclaim the Bindi – a decorative Indian piece commonly misappropriated as ‘festival wear’
- reminders of how growing up, Indian girls were once mocked for their body and facial hair, by the very groups now claiming the naturally thick hair and eyebrows these genes lend themselves to are ‘desirable’
- perhaps most famously, Decolonising your wardrobe; an effort to showcase the beauty of Indian culture in its entirety, by fusing the fashion of our ancestors with Western pieces (like Randhawa’s fusion of a Sari-style pinning against jeans and trainers, pictured below), whilst crediting where these pieces are from, and who and what they symbolise.
As well as neglecting the deeply embedded idea of beauty being a Western-centric, ‘one size fits all’ concept, Randhawa is working to fight the misconception that mental health only impacts individuals that look a certain way. In a recent piece she penned for Vogue, Randhawa explains how her beauty regime is actually a key element to combatting her mental health, and called out another social media user on Instagram for accusing her of being too beautiful to experience any form of mental instability. By speaking openly and honestly about her experience with mental health, Randhawa is changing the stigmatism surrounding the topic by encouraging young people to talk about their experiences, practice self-care, and treat mental health with just as much importance as physical health. In her shorter yet just as sharp uploads on various forms of social media, Randhawa addresses issues of importance to women of colour, and continues to unapologetically be herself whilst educating others on her choices.
Ultimately, Randhawa reminds us how mental health has no set-group of targets, how beauty is faceless, how there is no shame in Eastern heritage, and how we must take every opportunity we are given to change rhetoric which suggests otherwise. Thank-you, Ms. Randhawa, for filling the void we never saw, by being the hero of a generation who did not ask for one, but most definitely needed one.