Concept & Styling: Indiya Ahmed
Photography: Alan Strutt
Hair & Makeup: Lubna Rafiq Agency
Outfits: Available from Xari.co.uk, Aklu Plaza
Words: Momtaz Begum-Hossain
As South Asians growing up in the UK, at some point in our lives we’ve all stopped to think about our identity and where we fit it. How does language, gender, sexuality, and culture, shape us as individuals? How do we connect with our Asian heritage? Do we call ourselves South Asian, British Asian, Desi? The title you feel most comfortable with is the one you should choose, but what if you simply don’t feel comfortable due to how your own community judges you because of how you look?
When Asiana Magazine launched nearly 20 years ago we were the punk rock of Asian publications; doing things our way, setting trends and making brave, bold moves to be different. But we didn’t always get it right. In the early days, not all the models in our campaigns were South Asian because they simply weren’t on the books of modelling agencies. It meant that our readers didn’t always connect with the faces they saw in our magazine.
Two decades on we are committed to changing this by putting diversity, inclusion and representation at the top of our agenda; the three priorities of Editor Indiya Ahmed. She says: “If you don’t see yourself represented in the media it makes you either want to change yourself to blend in, or you lose your self-esteem and accept that you’re not worthy of being seen. I’m working to ensure that no Asiana reader feels this way. I want everyone to know that their story matters.” Our cover story is inspired by our commitment to celebrating difference and we couldn’t think of a better way to do this than inviting six leading Influencers who are all champions of the body positivity movement to grace our cover. Indiya explains: “There are so many types of ‘Asian’ and I wanted to give a platform to the voices that are often excluded from the table but have so much to give. If we are going to stay true to our values we had to do it properly, not just a fashion shoot inside the magazine, but use our cover to make the biggest and boldest statement of our legacy so far: everyone is beautiful and everyone is valid, no matter who you are.”