South-Asian Beauty Guru & FENTY Beauty Ambassador; Linasha Talks Upbringing, Colourism, and Representation
Linasha aka @linnygd is as mesmerising in person as she is on her social media. No stranger to being in front of the camera, she has the kind of class and demure that radiates comfort through the whole room. Linasha is the artist and the muse of her creations and has amassed over 90,000 Instagram followers because of her unique make-up looks that continue to burst with creativity. Her work can be seen in collaboration with household names like FENTY Beauty, Pat McGrath, and Makeup Revolution.
Having had studied economics and politics at university, Linasha is passionate about educating and inspiring her audience past her talent for make-up. With a deep and personal understanding of how social media plays a huge role in how we see ourselves. Linasha is on a mission to shine a light on the lack of representation within the beauty industry, especially for those who are dark-skinned.
Through her thought-provoking captions and her confidence in opening up the conversations in her stories and comment sections. Unlike many public figures who fear expressing their true opinions at the risk of being canceled. Linasha possesses the true meaning of what it means to be an influencer and has created a space on her page to discuss racism, sexuality, and equality. We had the opportunity to photograph and interview Linasha on her journey so far and the importance of dark-skinned representation as a South-Asian beauty influencer.
Can you talk me through any moments when you were younger, and even now, where your skin tone has been a topic of thought?
My skin tone is still a topic of thought, and unfortunately, it has always been that way since the day I was born. If I’m being really honest, it does still bother me when people make remarks about my skin colour. It hurts. Years of being racially targeted are bound to leave scars, and my scar comes with this constant, inescapable fear and worries at the back of my mind that one day, people will go back to hating darker-skinned Black and Brown women.
· What does representation mean to you?
Representation is super important to me, but only if those representatives hold the same values and are a true voice of their community. It’s imperative that they ‘fly the flag’ and stand up for what they believe in, rather than just ticking a quota or ‘appearing’ to represent. If they don’t, it’s pointless (this is also key with politics).
I remember my first experiences of seeing darker-skinned South Asians on TV – it was so rare (and still is!) I was in awe when I saw Sendil Ramamurthy in Heroes and when Anchal Joseph featured on ‘America’s Next Top Model’, I aspired to be as beautiful as her. It was heartbreaking to watch, as I could see how much westernised beauty and colourism/featurism was affecting her and I could really relate to what she was going through, even if I was just a kid myself.
The beauty community is known for using cultural trends for likes and views. What are your thoughts on the recent UNIBROW MOVEMENT and how can the beauty community do better?
I’m not going to lie, I’ve really struggled with the fact that a white person has been the face of this movement and has claimed it as a trend on Instagram. I found this claim tone-deaf, self-serving, and racist. I am appalled that Dazed beauty chose a white woman to be the face of a whole movement that she never started or had any involvement in, to begin with. I found her responses to be self-victimising and she continuously ignored Brown people’s voices, which made me realise that there’s no doubt that she used the ‘unibrow movement’ to make a quick profit and name for herself.
No recognition was given to the real voices of the movement – the young Gen Z’s who are brilliantly and proudly being themselves and going against what is deemed conventionally ‘pretty. The beauty community NEEDS to do better, and to do that, they need to recognise that just reposting Black artists that one time back during the BLM protests just isn’t going to cut it. Companies and brands need to do more, both with their internal and external hires. The company needs to be reflective of the creators they hire. White creators also need to be actively asking brands which Black and Brown content creators are also part of the project and be able to suggest their favourite creators to them if they haven’t.
· What is a cause or movement that is important to you?
I think all movements that are created by us or focus on us are important to me. I don’t think it’s the matter of picking and choosing which movement matters more it is about deciding when it is appropriate for me to give an insight or something knowledgeable. Many of us don’t have the privilege of picking and choosing, it’s about choosing when to give your intellectual and emotional labour that can help strengthen the discourse.
· The representation of dark skin is a HUGE issue in the black community and one that is largely discussed. Knowing the same injustices are apparent in the Asian community, how do you go about making the necessary changes to this injustice?
It is tough and I absolutely cannot fight this alone. But I’m trying so incredibly hard to use my platform to show love to all my beautiful Brown and Black gen zs. I hope in the future that I am in a position where I can directly consult brands and ask for the representation that we deserve.
Talent: Linasha @linnygd
Arts & Culture Editor + Producer: Chelsea Mtada @chelseamtada
Photographer: Terna Jogo @shooter_terns
Make-Up: Simmi Verde @makeupbysimmi
Stylist: Sabira Haque @huqthat
Location: GUAP Studios @guap.studios