When she posted pictures of herself in Indian garb on Twitter, Indian American fashion blogger and aspiring model, Sruthi Jayadevan, 22, shut down her haters in her recent tweet which has received more than 74,000 likes and has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.
“People: ‘what’s with the dot,’ ‘what’s that on your nose,’ ‘maybe you should tone down all this cultural stuff,’” she tweeted relying with “Me:” with two photos of herself in a sari, wearing bangles, a giant golden nose ring attached to her hair by a gold chain and a flower with a three part bindi on her forehead.
Jayadevan, who came to the U.S. at age 11, was often bullied for being different while growing up in California and is proud to embrace her culture and share it on social media.
“I went to my elementary school wearing a traditional bindi, my thin gold anklets, and my hair in braids like I used to back in my village,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“My sister and I were the only Indian kids at my school, so we would get called all kinds of names and be asked why we don’t speak English or why we had a dot on our forehead,” she added.
Because of the bullying, she began to assimilate into American culture but in college, realized that she had been shying away from her Indian culture and roots and wanted to get back in touch with them.
“I wanted to break free from these things that held me back. One day, I just decided to post a picture of me wearing a bindi and share my story on my page, and the responses were incredible,” she said. “I got so many messages and comments from young Indian-Americans who had all been through similar things.”
Jayadevan, who now lives in Dallas, has also shared other photos in the past of her looking beautiful in traditional outfits, from a salwar kameez or two to saris and bindis and plenty of sparkling jewels.
“Empowering others to embrace their culture empowered me to embrace my culture. I started growing more fearless with the way that I wore my cultural accessories. I started wearing the nose ring my mom always wore as a young adult. I put my anklets back on, I planned a trip to India,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Doing these things made me feel whole again. I felt all the suppression fade away slowly. I could feel the healing that it was bringing to my heart and soul.”
To those who genuinely have a question about the meaning behind her accessories, she says, “I have always loved when someone asked me a question out of genuine curiosity about something cultural I was wearing. But most comments I get are rather hateful, and mocking the accessories.
The tweet did help spread awareness. I was able to link an article to that tweet that explained the different cultural accessories that people of South Asian culture wear and what each of those things mean.”
Jayadevan also told Yahoo Lifestyle that her “biggest dream I’ve had, ever since I was a young girl, was to create a network or organization that supported women’s empowerment. I want to empower others to embrace their roots and celebrate their culture. I want them to embrace their gender, their skin color, and all the things that make us unique individuals. I want to represent my culture and heritage with beauty and fashion brands that want to be more inclusive.”