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Social Media Star of The Week: Diet Paratha


“To be honest, @diet_paratha was an account where I was just reposting vintage Bollywood posters. I’m from New Zealand and in 2017, when I created this handle, I felt the strange disconnect between my cultures. As an Indian, I’m Gujarati and being a New Zealander as well I didn’t really fit into either mould and that caused a strong sense of displacement,” says Londoner Anita Chhiba, 31.

Ironically, she didn’t connect to any of those Bollywood posts herself. “I felt it was a palatable way to appreciate the art form. Paired with that, through the wave of brown empowerment pages that were popping up on Instagram, I started discovering artists, stylists, musicians and activists from the diaspora who had similar values,” she says.

Talent hunting

Anita started the process of unearthing amazing talent, but the pandemic finally gave her the time to dedicate to it. “The side profile pieces I’ve done got really great traction and then people from everywhere started following me — from massive brands like Burberry and Vogue to Elle and I was like, ‘oh wow! I’m so happy that @diet_paratha is finally getting the recognition it deserves and that we as a people are also getting the recognition we deserve on a global scale’,” says Anita whose handle now has a following of 17k, at the time of going to press. 

The name Diet Paratha is a play on the popular fashion watchdog handle Diet Prada. But it is not about cancelling the people. Rather, it is about celebrating the creativity of people. And even though there has been a change in perspective towards South Asians in the UK, Anita says there’s still work to be done in the fight for representation.

“You’ve got people like the Daytimers who are reviving the whole South Asian underground and doing full South Asian festivals and you’ve got an account like mine that sort of pushes the narrative forward. Brown people being creative is the premise of @diet_paratha,” she explains. “It’s really just about repositioning how everybody else sees us.”

Brown and white

Living as a brown person in the UK, Anita says, “The UK is obviously problematic in the colonisation sense, but there are a lot of us here and there’s support here and we’re all collectively pushing the culture forward. So, it’s an exciting time. If one of us wins, we all win and that’s the kind of energy we need.”

And how does she intend to take this movement forward? “I think it’s already started to happen. I’ve almost just started the page and I’ve had amazing press. What I really want now is brands coming on board, paying us fairly, showing up as true allies, and not just using us as visual representation puppets,” says Anita, who is happy to run @diet_paratha single-handedly for now!

Who should be the next HT Brunch Social Media Star Of The Week? Nominate using the hashtag #BrunchSocialMediaStarOTW or email htbrunch@hindustantimes.com

From HT Brunch, September 19, 2021

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