Aaminah & Seetal - Two Brown Girls
What's better than observing a fellow South Asian woman be completely unapologetic about her identity and roots? Well, TWO South Asian women...or, more specifically - TWO BROWN GIRLS.
Aaminah and Seetal are British-based bloggers and the co-founders of the TWO BROWN GIRLS lifestyle blog, which is dedicated to exploring various aspects of South Asian culture from identity, faith and arts. They both take pride in expressing themselves through their respective faiths and cultural backgrounds, and they also seek to inspire other BROWN GIRLS (and guys) to do the same.
We first met these bindass brown girls a few years ago; they truly are a living example of respecting cultural and spiritual differences. Whilst they celebrate their own individuality in being a South Asian Woman, they also bring to light issues which South Asian Women face living as part of the diaspora community. In their own ways, they are redfining what it means to be a BROWN GIRL.
Tell us about Seetal and Aaminah, the inspiration behind creating ’Two Brown Girls', and how you came up with the name.
We both met in our first year of University at UCL and lived, studied and travelled together for three years. While we were meant to be studying or revising, we would procrastinate by searching for inspiration on social media. Soon we started to find these awesome creative and outspoken BROWNGIRLS on Tumblr and Instagram. They were dotted around the world, but we wanted to create a space where we could all come together to share ideas and be inspired by each other. We wanted to create a community.
‘BROWNGIRL’ a term we heard coined by M.I.A. and we use it as a descriptive rather than a prescriptive term. We’re all about championing empowerment through identity, understanding your culture, being proud of it and ultimately defining yourself through a process a constant evolution. And so, TWO-BROWNGIRLS was born.
Have you faced any challenges in raising awareness of the BROWN GIRL lifestyle. If so, how have you tackled this?
Generally, the response to our mission and the content we put out has been very encouraging. People do believe in the work that we do and realise how important it is in today’s day and age.
The biggest challenge has been communicating the importance of being proud of your culture to young women and girls who are more interested in fitting in rather than standing out. We tackle this by presenting ideas to people to open up their minds to ways of thinking that they my not have tried before. For example, just by adding an Indian touch to an office outfit makes others realise that it’s okay to do so. The world will continue to judge you on your skin colour and what you look like whether you like it or not. Why not embrace it and use it to empower yourself and others?
How do you stay motivated?
We’ve received so many messages from girls around the world who say that our blog is a place where they can connect and find a balance between their Desi identity and the white-majority society in which they live. Ultimately that’s the impact that we want to have and that’s when you know that you’re being successful.
When we went to New York and met young girls who were part of the SAYA program, two of them came up to us and asked if they could be ‘the next TWO-BROWNGIRLS’ and we were completely blown away. The real difference lies with the next generation. They are the future and they’re who we’re focusing on now.
What makes you feel good?
Apart from hanging out and exploring new places, we’re both fulfilled by purpose. By following the path that you’ve been given and doing the work that only you can do is the most rewarding feeling… oh, and Pani Puri of course.
What’s been your greatest struggle, and how do you generally overcome negative emotions?
For me, meditation has been the greatest help. Focusing on the breath and coming back into the present moment is my technique. Just observing your thoughts and emotions rather than get caught up in them can work wonders!
Whenever I'm having a rough day or have a lot on my mind, I take a long, hot shower. It helps me to relax, and I’m able to reflect properly on what’s bothering me. Afterwards, I'm always in a better mindset to tackle any issues.
How have your family and friends encouraged you to pursue what you are doing?
They always challenge us in healthy ways, questioning our reasoning and motives behind what we do, which ensures that our ideas are strong and our plans are robust. I don’t think we realise it as much but they’re always following our work, introducing us to opportunities and advocating for us to people too!
How has TBG evolved since both of you have been married, and how do you manage the blog whilst you both have your own personal commitments?
We’re extremely blessed to have incredible husbands and families who not only support the work that we do but are really excited and passionate about our mission of empowering young women through cultural identity. So, because of this TBG has been able to flourish as we travelled to America last year and continue to meet up every month to plan content and projects. We have also built portfolio careers where we’re involved in a number of different areas of work that enables us to sustain ourselves while having flexibility too.
You are having a dinner party – which three people would you invite, and why?
Without a doubt, The Prophet Muhammad, because meeting him in this world would be the greatest honour I can imagine, and also Malcolm X and Benazir Bhutto.
Erykah Badu, Mos Def and J Dilla
Tell us an interesting fact you would like to share!
We’ve both travelled and lived together, so we have so many amazing memories and crazy stories to share. But one that particularly stands out is when we were in Goa together for Seetal’s birthday. We had planned a relaxed morning at the beach which was to be followed by a 3 course cooking lesson by an awesome local chef. The night before we pigged out on some amazing Italian food but on the morning of her birthday, Seet had really bad food poisoning. Instead of the day we had envisioned, we spent the day cleaning up vomit, downing tablets and trying to keep hydrated. This time always stands out to me as a moment of true friendship. We always look after eachother and have each other’s backs, even when unexpected crap happens (quite literally)...and then we laugh about it later.
What can we expect from TBG in the future?
We’re now branching out and moving into making a real difference in people's lives. We just recently launched our own community interest company called ForwardCulture and our pilot programme will focus on working with young South Asian artists and girls in schools and colleges.
Two-BrownGirls will now lean more towards being a space where we share personal thoughts and content, but ForwardCulture is where we’re investing our time to strategize, create inspirational projects and reach out to communities with the BROWNGIRL mission offline.
What's your motto, or another way we like to ask this question....If you had to, what would you get tattooed on your forehead?
Haha, I don’t think we’d ever get anything tattooed on our forehead but we always remember the Higher in our daily lives so whether that’s Allah, Waheguru, Khuda, Bhagwan - take your pick!