How Kulfi Bites has helped me embrace being Gen Z
Am I trendy enough to be Gen Z?
By Samia Abbasi, Editor
When I was in high school, I had a classmate who always said to me, “You use too many big words.” To that, I always replied with a wide smile, “Okay, I’ll try to be more colloquial!” This particular classmate was a tall white boy who held a lot of influence amongst our peers. He’d often mock me or tease me for being “such a feminist,” or “taking things too seriously.” Whether or not his comments were the catalyst, I do remember a shift in my senior year to listening to more hip hop music and adopting more of the slang my peers used — perhaps to fit in or be more relatable.
At that time, the term “Gen Z” wasn’t really thrown around, compared to the many think-pieces and hot takes coming out on the internet about Millennials. And yet, there was a distinct culture we participated in — that are now fond memories for older Gen Z: the slang we used, Vine references peppered into conversations (RIP Vine), the accessories we all wore at some point (silly bandz!). And now, while we see article headlines like “Gen Z on TikTok are canceling side hair parting,” I find myself wondering if I actually fit into Gen Z:
Am I trendy enough to be considered Gen Z?
Through Kulfi Bites, we’ve had the opportunity to share so many incredible stories of South Asian Gen Z doing cool things, like gender justice advocate Haleema Bharoocha, and sharing profound insights on identity, like Zayn Singh’s reflections on top surgery and gender expression. By leaning into the South Asian Gen Z perspective and delving into topics we’re genuinely curious about, we’ve learned so much about what shapes people’s perspectives on beauty, culture, career, and wellness. We’ve been able to create content that radiates curiosity, collaboration, and confidence.
Through these enriching conversations with South Asian Gen Z, I’ve begun to embrace my Gen Z identity.
While we can focus our attention on recent happenings on TikTok or new trends emerging, what makes me proud of being Gen Z isn’t as tangible and capturable in images and videos. Instead, it’s the holistic perspective and inclusive values that Gen Z holds that makes me hopeful and excited about media in the future. As South Asian Gen Z,
We are on a journey of embracing ourselves, while holding that in conversation with our heritage.
Factors such as culture, religion, family, society, and more play a part in crafting our lens of the world. What emerges is a rich experience of listening to different parts of our existences, respecting the generations that came before us, and embracing what makes us feel like our best selves. In her article exploring a feminist perspective on Karwa Chauth, content creator Renuka Garg perfectly sums it up:
“That’s what I think Gen Z is about — reimagining our culture in a way that feels relevant and reflects the growth our society wants to see.”
A way that the South Asian-American experience is often portrayed in the media is “not feeling South Asian enough and not feeling American enough.” While that may resonate with many, we also see TV shows and movies that suggest that we dislike our cultures and ultimately just want to fit in with our peers by assimilating. There is so much complexity within the South Asian Gen Z experience that I’ve gotten to explore with Kulfi Bites. Reclamation Magazine founder Simra Mariam writes about this in her article on beauty as reclaiming yourself: “I’ve always been a fan of natural therapy when it comes to my beauty regimen, and this derives from cultural practices passed down through generations.” While taking in the different signals we get from different parts of our lives, we’ve also grown up embracing parts of our cultural identity that helps us feel seen, connected, and comfortable. I feel warm whenever I see these narratives and feel inspired to learn more about the generations that came before me.
Gen Z adopts inclusive language in a fluid way.
A Gen Z mindset often involves reading social signals and being open to learning and integrating new practices.
For instance, integrating pronouns into bios, introductions, and interactions. We see Gen Z making sure inclusive language is integrated into frameworks within their organizations. In an interview on identity and culture, content creator MoSpace points out, “I love that Gen Z is especially learning and centering inclusive language habits, on the internet and in their daily lives. Hopefully, this will be passed intergenerationally, and it will help to eradicate some of the discrepancies we have in language when it comes to society putting people in boxes and categories.” It’s about creating language that expands the boundaries of human existence and allows a variety of people to feel seen and respected.
The emergence of media that is by us, for us makes me feel hopeful.
So much of the media that is written about Gen Z, especially TV shows and movies, aren’t necessarily written or produced by Gen Z. We are starting to share our holistic perspectives that dig deep into the human condition and uplift experiences and identities that are not often centered in mainstream media platforms.
That’s why I was so struck by Parachute Media: you can really feel that they’re creating content that they’re excited about. Parachute is a media platform created by and for Gen Z women & nonbinary People of Color, that aims to reclaim their narratives and redefine success on their own terms. Through their newsletter, social media, and editorial platform, Parachute celebrates BIPOC joy and provides a unique lens that empowers, represents, and informs their audience. We will be partnering with Parachute in April! We are looking forward to creating an inclusive space for the Kulfi and Parachute communities to come together and uplift narratives on beauty and identity that consider our lived experiences and allow us to see ourselves in the media.
I’m so excited to continue to see specific and resonant storytelling by Gen Z — the kind that makes us stop & appreciate things, daydream for hours, wonder out loud, push tired conversations in new directions, and create a kaleidoscopic shared vision for the future.
About the Kulfi x Parachute Series — This article was written in partnership with Kulfi Beauty and Parachute Media. We are here to uplift narratives in the media that consider our lived experiences and allow us to feel seen in our complexities. For the month of April 2021, you will read articles and interviews on Kulfi Bites and Parachute that highlight BIPOC & South Asian perspectives on topics we’re curious about within beauty, identity, career, and media.