The Campaign: #unfairandlovely

Fair & Lovely, is a global cosmetic brand with one aim – to provide ‘effective and visible fairness to women’. You may think I’m joking, but ever since Unilever established the brand in India, they’ve been reinforcing the idea that lighter (and whiter) skin is more beautiful for 40 years.

Using 100% safe ingredients, [we] provide effective and visible fairness to women, and more than that, it provides hope. Hope to millions of women around the world, especially in Asia, who desire fairer and even-toned skin, for how it makes them feel about themselves, and for how it makes the world see them.

Sadly, it’s only one of many products selling like hotcakes all over the world. But to contrast the scrubs, lotions that tear into the pigments of our skin and destroy the melanin – there’s a campaign that’s been launched to disenfranchise the skin whitening regime.

#UnfairandLovely is a hashtag celebrating dark-skinned people of colour. The social media campaign has been created by Pax Jones, and sisters, Mirusha and Yanusha Yogarajah, a group of black and South Asian women, who study at the University of Texas.

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Photo by Pax Jones, featuring the Yogarajah sisters.

It’s a campaign which has been well-recieved online.

Mirusha Yogarajah recently told the BBC she readily agreed to be a part of the campaign, a concept created by 21-year-old black student Pax, because shadeism & colourism is rampant within the South Asian community.

‘Most of us are advised not to go out in the sun because we’ll get darker. It’s as if darkness is undesirable.’

Mirusha touches on the aggressive ideology that manufacturers of these whitening products thrive on.

They prey on basic human insecurities – consumers are encouraged to believe that lightening their skin tone a shade or two will lead them on to getting ‘better’ jobs and partners, and generally improve the quality of their lives. Why is the stripping of melanin being promoted as standard?

This campaign stamps on those messages. It strives and succeeds in reminding women that not only is ‘dark skin beautiful’, but also that every colour is beautiful. But what’s especially evident is that it’s prompting conversation, and according to Mirusha that’s exactly what they set out to achieve.

We wanted to start a conversation and I think we have succeeded in that.

READ MORE

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Cape Town, SA

One year on since visiting this stunning city, here’s my random babble of thoughts I never published from my holiday.

 

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I could get used to waking up everyday to this view of Table Mountain.

 

I need to start off by saying, isn’t Cape Town beautiful? Like really, really beautiful.

It’s not like Johannesburg or Sun City (previous SA destinations I’ve visited) at all – the city reminded me of a splash of Cyprus and a dash of Mauritius. Such lively, vivacious and friendly people and a lovely city, not once did I feel uneasy.

This family vacation surpassed expectations and turned into a cultural, historical, relaxing city break complete with gleaming sunshine and food…lots of food.

Going in December we were convinced it’d be quite empty of tourists, with many opting to spend the festive season at home with families, but boy were we wrong.

Turns out Christmas is great in Cape Town! It’s a sort of secret that people retreat to the Western Cape in December to catch the rays at the end of the year and soak up the sun which is unheard-of in the UK at this time of year.

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Part of the Waterfront, we’d swing by here admiring the boats as they pulled into to harbour.

I was so excited preparing to leave, I was more than ready to immerse myself in the dense South African history. Topics of race and diversity fascinate me, so I was keen to understand this country more.

Our hotel was a 2 minutes walk from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and used to be a prison. Sounds quite the historian’s dream – but it was really lovely. The architecture was still very prison-like, but the hotel had been converted to accommodate over 600 rooms fully furnished and very quaint. The hotel also shared the building with Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business which was a little bizarre.

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Having a roast dinner on Christmas Day in the hot weather of South Africa was the weirdest sensation. We were away from home comforts, but made to feel so at ease in the country – people were so welcoming to us on a special occasion.

We ate, drank and laughed in merriment with the locals and other tourists – it’s always nice to see how other countries do the festive season. I also didn’t shy away from wearing my Santa hat.

While Christmas Day was a spectacular event, it was the day before which I remember most fondly.

I imagine there aren’t many people in the world that can say they spent Christmas Eve on top of Table Mountain. 

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Climbing up Table Mountain on Christmas Eve in 2014 – yep iPad in hand – what a journo.

 

This memory will forever be a fond one.

A cable car ride to the top, a spectrum of tourists there with us to enjoy the ride too – and some trekking over the Table Mountain terrain in a Summer dress. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

Here’s to the next adventure!

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My first news report: ‘Potter-ing around Gloucester Cathedral

In November, my first ever news report went out on national television on regional news.

 

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In what I can only describe as a stroke of luck or an absolute fluke – I managed to edit, script and broadcast my first ever news report for regional news.

When I asked my Editor if I could go along to Gloucester Cathedral’s opening of it’s new ‘Harry Potter’ themed tour – I was barely expecting a yes, let alone the fact he’d send a cameraman to come along with me.

There I was thinking I’d just be doing a sparkly web article for them!

I traipsed around the cloisters of the Cathedral half trying to pay attention to the tour guide (as any avid Potter fan would do) and half trying to think of different shots I could use in my package.

I interviewed a variant of people – including some adorable children who’s parents were kind enough to let me chat to them on camera. Everyone was in an excitable mood and many were happy to be filmed. There were also a lot of broomsticks and wands flying around too!

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Interviewing Potter fans at Glos Cathedral!

Thankfully the news feature I was to make, didn’t have a set TX date, so I didn’t have any significant time constraints, and I was left very much to my own devices to edit the piece together.

It was a funny feeling seeing the finished product in the Producer’s running order – I kept thinking it was going to get taken out. I had many colleagues coming up to me in the day expressing their congratulations and asking me how I felt, but truly, it hadn’t sunk in.

It was only as the presenters introduced the item and said the words “…Ashna Hurynag reports” was when finally it dawned on me what a big moment this was in my career. I’ll never forget it.

What an honour!

Here’s the accompanying article and report: Potter-ing around the Cathedral

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Starting a New Job.

Over this Bank Holiday I’ve hopped, skipped and jumped from London into a new city – BRISTOL.

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Clifton Suspension Bridge

Yes, who would’ve thought the country bumpkin, who’s so close with her family and tight with her friendship groups would get up and leave it all behind. Well I always knew I would – the time has to come right? While I’ve got no commitments and no one holding me back, I was adamant that after finishing my MA, I would go and work anywhere. I would joke with friends that if roles came up in Grimsby, Saudi or Latvia – I’d take them in a heartbeat. What’s life without adventure? So even despite applying for jobs in Qatar, it seemed that life was a little kinder, and I’ve found a new home in Bristol!

Tomorrow the sightseeing must come to an end though, as I finally start my new job. I’m nervous and apprehensive about what’s to come, I have the jittery butterflies because, I just want to be good at it. Starting a new job is never going to be easy I’ve gathered, especially if this is your first ‘real-world’ position. Even the most confident people can crumble after accidentally calling their manager ‘mum’.

So in preparing myself for my first day, I’ve been asking for the advice of friends and family – for them to impart their wise words on me. I got some terrible, entertaining and wise pieces of advice with I felt a duty to share. Here’s some top tips on how to have a successful first week (and beyond).

1) Introduce yourself to everyone

“Ashna, be cool, but not too keen either – get like a balance of cool, ‘waddup’ friendly approachable-ness, shake hands and just be suave like George Clooney, but in a girl way”

This is a sound piece of advice, introducing myself has become second nature now that I’ve graduated as a journalist (it’s kind of part of the job), but I do struggle with matching names to faces, in my last role I kept on confusing an Emma and a Lucy because they were both brunette and Irish – terrible.

2) Find your go-to colleague

“Find that person that’s super nice and you just click with in the office, but don’t cling to them like a bad smell. Just try and see where they go for lunch, bond with them over a cup of tea etc, that way they can be your go-to person for awkward questions”

Hmm good point, often its easy to identify that person you click with when you meet them, the most approachable one who is ok with hanging out with the new girl for a bit. They’re your way in to the ‘cool’ socials..

3) Do accept their invitations to socials

“Don’t be your unsociable (AHEM!) -self and decline going to hang out with them in favour of you hanging out in bed watching Made in Chelsea – clear your diary of stuff over the next few weeks and just say yes to going to drinks and socials – it’ll make you seem cool (I AM COOL!)”

Diary cleared. After-work drinks on Friday? Heck yes. Although you want to make sure they want you to come along first, fingers crossed there’s an invite.

4) Make lots of drinks

“Make tea, like, all the time. Tea/coffee Sandra? It will make you so popular on the news desk but allows you to practice getting names right too. And who doesn’t love a free drink when you’ve got a package due in in half an hour.”

I swear by this one. Making tea and coffee goes a heck of a long way, it’s a small gesture that some may find demeaning, but I think the offer of good drink-making skills are fool proof. I always have a page in the back of my notepad with everyone’s name and how they like their tea – the fact that you’ll remember their ‘order’ will automatically put you in their good books.

5) Be the best dressed on your first day

“Go in super smart and stylish then judge the dress code for your self for the rest of the time.”

Ahh the what to wear conundrum. I agree, if you go in very smart on your first day, you’re dressing to impress and give off an air of professionalism – that you’re ready to work and do your best. Also, who doesn’t feel good in a suit? Ofcourse this depends on the role, but after the first day you can suss out the tone of the office-wear to go for.

I don’t think these dashings of advice weren’t so bad after all. I certainly feel much calmer going into tomorrow. Hope this post helps you out when starting a new job – remember, social anxiety can be quashed!

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Journo tips: How to deal with failure

Poignant post from a fellow City Postgrad Journo. How you deal with failure is a true reflection upon yourself.

Failure is a learning and growing opportunity that is necessary for growth. As this post reiterates, pick yourself up and go for it ten times harder next time.

Return of the hack

This year, I had interviews for three graduate schemes and a six-week internship. I didn’t get a single one of them. I was extremely fortunate to be offered a five-week internship off the back of one, which I enjoyed immensely, but that’s not a clear route into a job.

I have thought about what went wrong in each interview dozens of times.Thankfully (I think) I’ve come to the conclusion that it was a slightly different thing in each one. Not enough experience in one, not enough knowledge of the paper in another – and so on, a catalogue of failures.

Does it make me feel sad that I didn’t get on a grad scheme? Of course it does. It breaks my heart to see my coursemates getting excited (and, equally, complaining) about what they’ll be doing in September – the rascals. I want to be doing it with them, I…

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Live Reporting: City Radio

On Tuesday 26th May, the bank holiday weekend was firmly thrust aside as the two-week radio station simulation began at City University London.

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My role for this particular day was to be a reporter!

I covered the story of Ryanair’s full-year results report that was published that morning – I attended a morning press conference and did some lives while at the scene, and also a wrap and two-ways once I’d gotten back to base.

Here’s a rough package edit of some of my content:

Enjoy!

Bleaching in Paradise

My final project for my Masters course required me to make a 15-minute radio documentary on any subject of interest. I chose the subject of skin-whitening. 

 

The Ivory Coast has just become the third African country to ban skin-whitening creams, following in the footsteps of Senegal and South Africa.

But despite the ban, some dangerous, and even deadly, skin lightening agents are still openly sold into the UK. In Nigeria, up to 77% of women have admitted to using skin bleach.

This year according to ONS predictions, the island of Mauritius is expected to match Nigeria as one of the biggest exporters and importers of these creams.

Ashna Hurynag, has been to find out more.

For more on the topic of Shadeism, visit:

The Shady Minority‘ & ‘Shadeism. An Update

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