Our ever-changing personal style is a reflection of how we feel, who we are and who we aspire to be. For the Malayali Native American fashion blogger model Milan Mathew, his style is a way to get the word out that no one should be embarrassed by his culture. “Growing up, so many children were bullied for being Indian. What we wear, what we eat, what we look like, what our parents do, ”she told POPSUGAR. “And I broke that cycle … Our culture is so beautiful. Be confident and be proud and strong about it.”
Although his style varies from sporty to elegant, Milan enjoys incorporating elements of his Desi culture into his outfits – from jhumki earrings to her bindi – and she got a taste of stardom when her response to the “Hot Seat” challenge went viral. “I just felt my faith in humanity restored, because there were so many communities from all parts of the world joining her,” Milan said of the multiple women who drew inspiration from her video to share outfits from their own cultures. “I just liked the fact that it wasn’t about one culture. It was about seeing everyone seeing each other’s culture. And within seconds you are able to learn a lot. “
“Every culture deserves to have its own spotlight. And just because yours is different from someone else’s doesn’t mean it is less important or less beautiful.”
On TikTok, the APIA pioneer takes her love for her heritage to the next level by answering respectful questions from curious fans on how to apply a tikka helmet, the meaning of a pottu dot, and more. “I feel happy that more people can learn more about my culture and what we wear and the meaning behind things and whether to take ownership or what ownership is,” she said. declared. “There is such a thin line between appreciation and ownership, [but] it is good to know that people are curious and ready to learn. “
In college, Milan realized that other Indo-American students didn’t feel the same outward pride in their culture as she did, which is why her goal in making these videos is to inspire people from all cultural backgrounds. to be proud of their heritage, a message that fans have received. “They’re like, ‘I’m so grateful for your videos. You made me realize, my culture is beautiful, “” she said. “I’m so happy to hear children, young adults say, ‘Oh, I see the truth now. I’m not hiding anymore. ‘ It really is a beautiful thing … Every culture deserves to have its own projector. And just because yours is different from someone else’s doesn’t mean it’s less important or less beautiful. “
Image source: Instagram user milan.mathew
Milan appreciates that there are more color designers in the fashion space now than when she first joined TikTok. In fact, some of his favorite brands and businesses run by APIA include Tamanna the label, Kanyä London, Live tint, Aavrani, Beauty Bili, and Indiatrend. But she also hopes to see that portrayal expand beyond social media to TV, movies, and society as a whole. “What I really love is when the creators mix everything up,” she says. “Your page shouldn’t just be that you’re part of the Asian community. We do everything. There are dancers, there are artists, there are singers, there are comedians … Sometimes the people want you to be in a box, and it’s like, ‘No, we’re so much more than the box people want us to put us in.’ “
“I want people to trust who they are and not hide.”
For this reason, she encourages creators – regardless of the number of followers – to share some of their heritage online and join the conversation. “You can have zero subscribers while going viral and people are learning. So when platforms [TikTok] exist, I feel as a community, we are all just a representation on a smaller scale, getting bigger and bigger, ”she said, citing Nabela Noor and Rowi singh like some of his favorite APIA designers. “I want people to trust who they are and not hide. Mostly just good vibes. I want them to have a good time and know that they don’t need to hide who they are.”
From cutting clothes for her Barbies and Bratz dolls as a child to designing her own products that she hopes to release later this year, Milan has made great strides in the fashion arena. After climbing to the top without the support other influencers often receive, Milan says her ultimate goal is to take him forward and provide support to other young people who have had to overcome the same challenges as her.
“One of my big goals, as I develop my platform, is that I want to create a foundation and fund young adults who don’t know what they want to do, and help them give them space like: ‘ Hey, it’s OK to dream, and I got you financially. Focus on the hard work, and I have the rest, ”she said. “I just want to help people in a good way … I just want to be that person for them.”
Check out some of Milan’s most popular and educational TikToks here.