Our most memorable Kulfi Bites stories of 2021

Illustration of South Asian eating kulfi ice cream

What was on our mind this year?

By Samia Abbasi, Editor

I was organizing my Notes app recently and found this note from September 16th that reads: “We’re nearing the end of the year, and it feels like literally nothing has changed in my life. As I kept thinking about it, there were things that have happened, and these things, more than anything, were shifts in how I view myself and my writing.” 

I never got around to finish untangling this thought in its entirety, but I find it compelling right now, as we reach the tail end of the year. Over the past two years of creating and sharing storytelling on Bites, we’ve been able to see the shifts in what has been on our minds and how we think about things like representation and self-expression.  

It makes me smile to think about Kulfi’s big moments this year (like launching in February!) and the wonderful storytelling on Bites. We're sharing some of our most memorable Bites pieces of 2021 with you, represented within three major themes: social media, career, and beauty.  

Social Media: Putting language to our digital existence. 

We often see People of Color create the latest trends on social media, but we don’t hear enough about how they navigate digital culture. At Bites this year, we were curious about the ways that we individually and collectively experience social media and the trajectory of our online presence throughout our lives. Ultimately, we are coming to our own conclusions about its purpose in our daily lives and taking back our power. Here are 3 affirming Bites 2021 pieces on social media: 

1. Can Nazar be sent virtually? A Gen Z perspective on Nazar & social media by Aliya Varma | link

Excerpt: While social media does not define my identity, it is a way for people to identify me. It is a window into my thoughts and showcases my personality, and while it is not a 100% of me, it is a good part of who I am. 

I am not letting people’s gaze define me, but I am certainly protecting myself from it. 

2. MoSpace on navigating the in-between spaces of culture & the internet | link

Excerpt: Although I’ve had mainly positive interactions on TikTok, there are a few times that I have gotten comments on my physical appearance or weird things like, “Are you even Asian?” 

My comment section isn’t a democracy; I don’t want to hear it! 

3. Simran Randhawa is curating her social media on her own terms by Nivita Sriram | link

Excerpt: I love the new photo dump trend. That’s how I’ve been treating social media lately; I don't feel the pressure to share every day anymore. Whenever I feel like I have something to say, I say it — but I appreciate the non-curated aspect of sharing spontaneously. 

Sharing the bits that have been making me happy lately has helped me live in the moment rather than putting pressure on myself to post something for my brand.

Career: Redefining our pathways holistically. 

From The Great Resignation to grappling with Work From Home, people are speaking candidly about the difficulties and exhaustions that come with careers. This year, we have embraced what makes us feel more joyful in our work and are coming to terms with the parts that no longer serve us. It is so inspiring to hear South Asian women’s stories about how they’re unlearning toxic norms and redefining success in holistic ways. Here are 3 of our favorite Bites career stories of 2021: 

1. We need to define ambition for ourselves by Prathigna Yerakala & Samia Abbasi | link

Excerpt: 

I tend to collect achievements like the coins in a Super Mario game. 

I have no idea where this road will take me but as long as I collect the gold coins at every milestone, I’m conditioned to be happy. When we live and work towards a reward system that someone else has created, how do we break that system for ourselves before it’s too late?

2. How I'm reframing imposter syndrome as a wellness content creator by Padmini Dey | link

Excerpt: I tend to experience imposter syndrome most when I am trying something new in a space that feels somehow foreign — where I feel out of place and under-qualified. During these moments, 

I’ve realized the fear and doubt arising within me is a sign I am putting myself that much closer to something I deeply desire for myself. 

3. Who gets to decide what a perfect career narrative is? by Pritika Gupta | link

Excerpt: I’m not saying that it isn’t important to have goals that we aim to achieve, I’m simply acknowledging that.

Creating space in our lives for possibilities can often be a source of a certain kind of joy.

It is natural for us to box ourselves based on the experiences we have had and accumulated, but beyond the confines of these very career narratives and perfect stories, seems to be a version of our interests that we haven’t explored, often because these opportunities simply haven’t presented themselves before.

Beauty: Reclaiming beauty for ourselves. 

Spending more time with ourselves during this year, we are discovering new ways to use fashion and makeup to express ourselves. We might try a hairstyle trend (i.e. curtain bangs), get that piercing or tattoo we’ve always wanted, or discover the cream blush of our dreams. It’s about embracing the beauty items and rituals that make us feel like our best selves and lift our moods a little every day. Here are 3 Bites 2021 beauty articles that you need to read asap: 

1. Beauty & Writing: Community organizer Fabliha Anbar on stepping into your power | link

Excerpt: Recently with quarantine, I’ve become a lot more confident in myself. I’m away from the public eye, and I’m able to just focus on myself. I dyed my hair with red streaks, and I now know that I’ll never stop dying my hair for the rest of my life. I’ve also been playing around with color in my makeup and wardrobe. I absolutely love using eyeliner. 

I feel like I’m a teenager all over again and learning how to express myself. 

2. Space Lord Nova: Reflections from a boundary breaking model | link

Excerpt: Navigating my Queerness and gender expression online and how people viewed me, I often felt dysphoria. I saw, first-hand, how much praise, acknowledgement, and recognition I got when I presented more femme. Now, I don’t care to be palatable to anyone. The more I embrace myself, the more I can help members of my community embrace themselves. I’ve come to realize:

Any way that I show up and present myself is going to be amazing. 

3. Brown Eyed Girl: My life-long search for the perfect purple eyeliner by Nicole Horowitz | link

Excerpt: So, there I was, fourteen years later. With the knowledge that brown-eyed people are not a monolith. With an understanding that the world is a big and nuanced place, and 

Makeup is a reflection of the beautiful complexity that goes into individual identity. 

And with the knowledge that somehow, there was a flattering purple shade out there for me after all.

 

Cover photo sourced from: Badal Patel (@bybadal) & Aditi Damlei (@damlebai)


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