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asian – STARE Magazine

TEXT Kanika Joshi

Remember when you were a nervous teenager going through body changes that didn’t make sense? Your body doing a 180 degree on you? Facial hair, voice cracks, acne that left you confused? Well, I will not be surprised if you tell me you didn’t know what was happening or that no one around you talked about it. Just like that we know there’s a whole stigma around period talk and reproductive systems. And yes, we know there is so much information online these days, but it just isn’t enough. So, we are here with a little bit of information to keep the conversation going.


Most girls start their period somewhere between 9 and 16 years, with each period’s length 2-8 days. Literally no one told me that I was just going to start bleeding one day and it did not come as a fun surprise on that rainy day at school. Your period has a lot to do with your diet, weight, and your percentage of body fat and vice versa. Your monthly cycles change throughout your life depending on stress, age, weight gain or loss, or having a baby. If you have any concerns regarding this, you should see a doctor, specifically a Gynaecologist as soon as possible.

What if my periods aren’t ‘normal’?

If there are any irregularities with your period, it’s essential to note your symptoms and consult a doctor. The most common menstrual problem faced by women is PCOS. Below is a short description on the same.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition which begins during a girl’s teen year. This problem might be more common than you think, with 1 in 5 Indian women suffering from PCOS, still few people are talking about it. People don’t talk a lot about PCOS because of the stigma around period talk and the unrecognised necessity to address issues around it unless the woman is unable to conceive.

The fear that a woman with PCOS cannot conceive at all leads people to ignoring the conversation as their families fear that it would cause hindrance in them getting married. We can say that this patriarchal system that sees childbearing as a woman’s ‘biological duty’ if awfully flawed. Thus, doctors too many a times focus more on ‘preservation’ of fertility which is makes it hard to find the right diagnosis and treatment. This patriarchal gender bias in healthcare and medical research can harm the woman’s well-being on the longer run. Also, the social stigma attached to having high levels of testosterone leading to facial hair, weight gain, acne associated with PCOS; challenges the expectation of an ‘ideal’ female body. It also leads to different body image and mental health issues.

As we step into the year 2021, it’s high time we stop viewing PCOS as a hindrance to fertility, childbearing and dwelling into the orthodox ideas of femininity. We need to focus on the emotional, physical and mental impact on the women affected, talk about issues, share in confidence and grow together.

Please do write to us for any help/resources at magazine.stare@gmail.com


TEXT Dan Hastings-Narayanin 

Has the demand for a desi male body in mainstream culture led to the desexualization?

When actor Kumail Nanjiani broke the internet at the end of 2019 with a shirtless picture showing off this newly transformed pumped body, thousands of women and men were left drooling over it. And then when he flaunted about this picture being reused by Pornhub, the new Marvel actor created conversations around beauty and sex standards for South Asian men.

For Caroline Vasquez and Claudia Ferreira- two French journalists who specialize in topics related to women and pop culture admitted that Kumail is still ‘not their type.’ On the contrary, they expressed that Asian men can be sexy and fit into the fantasy of many women. Having grown up in a predominantly white country, they justify that ‘For us here, South Asian men are the ones running 24/7 grocery shops.’ According to @yourauntpulandevii – an Instagram account run by a young aid worker promoting brown history, the western knowledge of desi culture does not go further than Bollywood, Taj Mahal, poverty, rape culture and many barely even know Sri Lanka exists. She adds “We don’t see much of the desi man in media albeit documentaries on poverty. Ultimately, the lack of representation in western culture leads to misreading, suspicion, and ignorance. No one can fantasize about them if they are not represented anywhere.” Having a captured a bit of international spotlight, the Slumdog Millionaire and Mission: Impossible actor Anil Kapoor and model Satya Oblette who was scouted by Jean-Paul Gaultier and Kenzo in the 2000’s have shown some advancement. Pulan Devii expresses how proud she and her mother were of this Indian personality embodying westernized beauty standards. And this brings us to the Givenchy F/W 20 collection which was entirely inspired by Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, Maharaja of Indore. It was an astonishing event to watch a desi man and his masculinity setting the tone of a French luxury couture house.

As our wait for South-Asian men in cinema and fashion continues, their representation in professional porn is almost non-existent. And the revolutionized Pakistani-American actor has given us a ray of hope. For his upcoming role in ‘The Eternals’, Nanjiani spent a year working out with trainers and specialized dietitians. Ripped like a bodybuilder, he is being referred to as ‘ridiculously fit and sexy’ on multiple media platforms. But his transformation and achievement of the lead role of a superhero might not just be enough to change the paradigm. Journalist Claudia says, “Let’s take Jackie Chan for instance. He is ripped but I don’t find him sexy.” Yet when it is Jean-Claude Van Damme- the Belgian actor starring in the exact kind of action films, it feels different to her. So, even a bulked up and hairless South Asian man will not be enough until the industry works on diverse representation and we as individuals keep away from the so called ‘ideal beauty’ standards.