Beyond the Paradigm

By Tanya Singh

July 2023

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard

This piece was written as an accompaniment to the photography series A Curation of Modern Beauty.

As people we often question the things around us, the set system of beliefs, regiment and opinions that are instilled more so than passed along to us generationally. We watch our bodies grow and grow as we begin to form ideas of what we would offer to and gain from the universe, after all my eastern body sits in the western world. The woven path leads us to a spot where embracing strict tradition seems like the only way to lead this perception of what it is like to be a woman, a woman of colour, a woman with beliefs, morals and culture in this contemporary humanity. The internal tug of war leaves a hollowness, and we ask ourselves “who am I”.

Given that the depiction of the everyday woman of colour has fallen into a trope by pop culture, to set apart your identity becomes such a crucial way to sustain yourself in this era of trends. Growing up seeing how specific mannerisms and rules had been placed to stand as a beacon of light to guide us away from matters that would in any way vilify us in the looking glass of the west. Inevitably discovering that out of fear of perception we had stripped away our hues and aromas. The biggest weight carried on us being how to unlearn and re-learn ourselves to make sense of our experiences intermingled with the signs of the times. Expression via art, fashion, music, academia etc becomes valued so heavily by the BIPOC community due to the fluidity of being able to carry our cultures forward in the most subjective manner.

Culture is found in every essence of living. Residing in a society where nothing is defined by straight lines anymore, the modernism that we embrace in the everyday requires its own footpath. We realize that the woven path is not our fate, yet our destiny is curated in individuality. Embracing tradition and rejecting modernity is not the setting stone to us as women of colour from the rising generation. Starting to display exactly that fragment residing inside us, in the most true and unapologetic manner, we tear apart the fabric of our reality and start to sew this depiction of what self-representation means to us as children of immigrants. Who are we in this cultural shift? Where do we want to stand and how do we want to look and sound in a crowded room?

Looking beyond the paradigm, we gaze at the patch-worked textile we have created, with its embellishments and panels, each pattern flowing into one another. Adding and subtracting things as we age. Laying the fabric over our shoulder and guiding our womanhood through the days with courageous determination. Mapping out the pattern to our cloaks as we bask in the glory of what it is like to be you. Your body, your beauty, your culture and people. We establish what fulfils us, what we want to look like, who we want to love and how we want our traditions and cultures to be carried forward in these ever-evolving times. How the perception and view of it all lays genuinely in the eyes of the beholder as beauty intends to be. The question to be asked here is;

Who are you amongst everything?

You can find more of Tanya’s work here and here.