There are way more than 3 women who changed my life. But these three are the main ladies who have challenged ideas and beliefs about myself that I grew up with. There is nothing I love more than women of colour straight up forcing the world to listen to us.
Being a Muslim Indian woman with a disability meant that I was often silenced. We’re made to feel ungrateful and annoying for expressing any grievances or issues we have.
Here are three women who told me that accepting your own silencing is just stupid.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I was introduced to Adichie during the first year of my English degree, and she instantly became my favourite author.
Originally from Nigeria, her works tackle post colonialism, stereotyping and identity.
Americanah is about a woman who migrates to America from Nigeria and her experiences as a non-African-American black woman. That book made me realise how important it is to familiarise yourself with literature from women of colour. You can’t imagine how refreshing it is to listen to someone who finally understands the struggles of dealing with daily racial prejudices.
This is one woman whose advocacy and music told me to be unapologetic about who you are.
M.I.A grew up in Sri Lanka during the Civil War and lived her childhood in displacement before entering the UK as a refugee. Her music is inspired by her experiences as a refugee and the voicelessness she suffered from as a result of the war.
She is a South Asian woman, like me, but she has always been politically disruptive and literally couldn’t care less what people think of her, even defending herself against Oprah calling her a terrorist.
M.I.A’s assertiveness is a reminder that even if you’re in a position of disadvantage, you can always have the strength to use your career to defend your people.
Jilly Mercado (Instagram: @jilly_peppa) came to my attention when she was chosen to be a model for Beyonce’s website. She had also modelled for Diesel, and is a Latina wheelchair user with Muscular Dystrophy.
Growing up, the idea that a disabled woman could be in the fashion industry was alien to me. From struggling to find clothes that fit my body type, to always thinking that disabled could never mean pretty – seeing a woman of colour slaying the game, owning her situation and looking amazing while doing it shows that one size doesn’t need to fit all.