Anita Chhiba may have christened Diet Paratha after the prominent global fashion watchdog Diet Prada, but that’s where all similarities end. Founded in 2017 by the London-based Chhiba, who, at the time, was working in advertising, Diet Paratha initially began as a way for her to share—and garner appreciation for—vintage Bollywood movie posters on Instagram. Soon, the 31-year-old, galvanised by the performance of the platform and her keen visual sense, recalibrated it to highlight the work of brown creatives who inspired her.
Today, Diet Paratha has become a convergence point for South Asian artists constituting marginalised musicians, up-and-coming models and fresh diaspora talent. Scroll through the platform’s feed and you’ll find yourself drawn into a world driven by the vibrant diversity, innate individuality and overall verve of the diaspora.
While Chhiba has no ironclad rules for whom she features on her page, she is deliberate in her exclusion of visuals and narratives that pander to the white gaze and, unlike Diet Prada, does not subscribe to cancel culture. “We are no longer accepting the notion of being put inside a box or being seen as a uniform group,” the New Zealand-born creative director says of her goal to celebrate and champion South Asian talent. “It’s about challenging the status quo and respecting our individual backgrounds and identities alongside our privileges, whilst being backed by our peers in demanding fair change across creative industries—extra loud for marginalised people within marginalised communities.”
When Chhiba was invited to curate this folio of South Asian creatives for our YouthQuake issue, her ecstasy was soon followed by panic. How could she possibly choose who to pick from the 1,000-odd names she had platformed on Diet Paratha so far—and the countless people she wished to work with in the future? In the end, she took solace in the fact that representation for some would eventually translate into representation for others, if not for all.
Get to know Anita Chhiba, the brains behind Diet Paratha:
What do you think is the role of the youth in affecting systemic change when it comes to representation in creative industries?
The youth are the future and have always have been inadvertently responsible for birthing a new generation of thinking and ideas. It’s this combination of thinking and ideas alongside truth and values that help impact systemic change. And that means there’s room for all of us to tell our own stories, the way we want to.