Punjabi kudi inspires with fusion | Sikh Vogue

Ankita Bhardwaj, who was born and raised in Toronto but has roots in Nawanshahr, Punjab, is using the social media to empower women and inspire them to embrace who they really were and where they came from with her Indo-Western fusion fashion and make-up.
She was inspired by Bollywood films and her mother. “As a child, I would walk around my house with a dupatta wrapped around me like a saree over my jeans and top. Imitating my mother’s style, I would always have an armful of colourful bangles and a bindi to match. So I think incorporating Indian culture into my looks began at a very young age….”
However, as her social media presence grew she realised the impact she could have. “It wasn’t just about physical appearance. It was about confidence, practising self-love and embracing who you really are.

The first-ever fusion look that I had created on Instagram began with something I’d frequently done before. I had incorporated Indian jewellery with my regular outfit. My liner was thick just how I liked and my hair braided into two long braids. I had finally created something that I 100% loved and was extremely passionate about. The response to that was unbelievable and quite incredible. I had so much support and love come pouring in via messages, comments and likes.

I felt like I had been able to reach so many of my fellow South Asian women in such a positive way. From there I felt as though I had a purpose. I tried to create looks that incorporated my culture and represented confidence, strength, resilience, fierceness and empowerment. I know from personal experience that as a person of Indian background and living in North America, you may not be so easily accepted for standing out and looking different from the majority of others.”
Despite her Punjabi roots, Bhardwaj takes inspiration from multiple Indian cultures like in her recent series ‘South Asian Ranis’, in which she creates a Punjabi-inspired look as well as Pakistani, Bengali, and Marathi ones, among others. There is a reason for this inclusivity: “It’s so important for me, as someone who is a South Asian and also has a large South Asian following, to make sure I include influences from as many different regions as I can. I want to be able to connect with and inspire as many people as I can to be proud of where they come from… Many regions of South Asia don’t get the recognition they deserve and I believe it’s my responsibility to at least shed a small light on those areas and show my appreciation”.
The volume of Bhardwaj’s followers, many of them South Asian women, shows the need for platforms like hers. “I didn’t have any South Asian female role models to look up to in Hollywood or the media. Eurocentric beauty was always the conventional standard of beauty that was being thrown at me and millions of other young women… Now with the dawn of social media, there are finally many strong, successful and inspiring role models for our South Asian youth to look up to. The message is that you can be whoever you want to be and fulfill your dreams no matter who you are and where you come from. Let your differences be your strength.”

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