Tag Archives: #yashurao

From the Darkness of Desi Culture, Women Find the Light

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PDT/ 9pm EDT!

Being a Desi woman can be hard…

I often hear of the specific struggles my Desi clients face in their communities. 

My mentor used to say, “things in the dark always come to light”, and my hope is, through this article, that women will feel empowered enough to break down generational curses of antiquated traditions that are not working for them in this day and age.

One of the most brutal and painful, yet extremely common issues I have confronted is one of Eurocentric beauty standards in the Desi community. Being a woman who has been forced into this conversation at home for her entire life, I’m just eager to dive into this one!

From complaints of being too fat, too dark in complexion,  too short, having small boobs, and even having short hair – I have heard it all. 

Who said beauty was limited to these features? More importantly, who has control of said inherited genetic traits?

The worst part is society, family, even friends, at times.

I remember my relatives would set me up for arranged marriages with men larger than me, mainly so that I would not be rejected.

I once had a family bargain for me. They said, “Since your daughter is not good-looking, make sure she has a doctorate so we can show her off that way.” 

I have heard Desi women being told: just look nice until you get married, and then it doesn’t matter how you look. There are matchmakers that say things like “She is dark. I have the perfect dark-colored boy for her.”

All these dialogues need to stop. We need to change the narrative about beauty in our South Asian households and encourage our communities to embrace all bodies and all forms of beauty. It was this that pushed me to address stereotypes and motivated me to become one of the first few Indian American Plussize Models in the world.

Marriage Talk

This topic can be toxic, especially when it comes from other women.

I have heard many families refer to the marriage of their daughter as an escape. “We have raised you all this time, once we hand you over to a man, then we can finally rest.”

Starting from the age of being “legal”, a typical desi woman enters the age of marriage talk. Growing up, my eldest female cousin did not really know how to cook and clean. My relatives used to say, “If we don’t send you to your in-laws’ house without proper training you, they won’t blame you. They will blame us for sending an inadequate woman to that household.”

It used to blow my mind. In what way was she inadequate?

She is educated. She is beautiful. She is so sweet and caring. Yet, she is inadequate.

And now, with women being so educated, independent, and self-sufficient, marriage has become a competitive sport! Parents are trying to get their daughters liked by “qualified” men.

I would often hear: “We are the girl’s side, we have to go along with their demands” or “You are the girl, just adjust.” Women don’t get to choose, they are the ones being chosen.

Oh, you thought dowry was an old practice? Well, you’re wrong.

Prospective in-laws and parents parade their gold and silver jewelry and discuss how big the dessert table was in their respective daughters’ weddings.

Once you’re married, the nature of the pressure changes to childbirth and motherhood. Many South Asian women are forced into having children, one after the other, because that is what their husbands and in-laws want. 

Career Choices – For Women

In one narrative, it all boils down to how your work affects your husband and your child-rearing capabilities.

In another narrative, Desi women are discouraged by their husbands or families from accepting promotions and higher positions to avoid ego clashes with their counterparts.

I worked with a Desi woman studying to be a surgeon. All throughout her medical school and residency, her family members would question her parents, “Why are you allowing her to do surgery? That is very difficult. Tell her to do something more women-friendly” or “How will she manage a family if she picks such a difficult career path? She has to take care of her husband and children and also patients?”

How is a woman’s personal choice for a career dependent on her future husband and unborn children?

This places the burden of children and running a household on the woman.  

“What does women’s empowerment mean to you?”

This was a question I was asked and it is one that I ask others.

Empowerment is a two-way support network. Women supporting those around them while receiving genuine support from the others in their life. By educating yourself on the painful narratives of Desi women, see how you can empower HER by having the right conversations.

For the Desi women out there, do not be afraid to speak your mind.

For the Desi men out there, support the women in your life by listening to their needs.

For the Desi parents out there, give your daughter the respect and independence she deserves. Let her make choices for herself.

By bringing touchy subjects to light and having healthy communication in your households, we can ensure the proper treatment of desi women.

Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.

Am I Allowed to Have Sex On My Mind?

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST!

After conducting a free Sex Education workshop, the need for open discourse on healthy sex in Desi communities became apparent… 

Being Desi, you’ve probably never had “the talk” with your parents. Most of the knowledge on the subject, and yes it is something to be learned, came from our peers, pornography, and, well, life experience. 

In Desi communities, sex (before marriage) is looked down upon, forbidden even, in what seems to be a scare tactic to prevent pregnancy/disease. Sex after marriage, more than for pleasure, is encouraged for procreation. Religions practiced by the South Asian communities talk about the chastity of the woman (of being a virgin). Brown women often hear that they should not be going out late/coming home late and they most certainly should not be seen with the opposite sex. It all stems from the concept of keeping women safe and pure – ready for marriage.

At the end of the day, sex is a choice, and some of you may choose to honor keeping yourself away from it until marriage and some of you may want to explore your sexuality, before and after marriage. For those of you who are exploring your sexuality, both men and women, it’s important that you are enjoying your experiences; the only way you can do that is to practice safe sex and educate yourself on choices that work for you, your body, and your partner’s body! 

As we enter into the month of love, let’s discuss some helpful tips and tricks about sex that dive deep into the conversation around sexuality, sensuality, and intimacy. The purpose of providing these tips is to not only educate but to also normalize conversations around sex – to highlight the importance of actually talking about such a taboo topic. 

I highly recommend that you share my list of tips with your partners, your friends, your relatives, and whomever you think may need some support in regards to sex. 

  • It’s ok to have sex for recreation throughout your life! Culturally, you may hear a narrative that sex is only meant for procreation but do not limit yourself. Be sure to have a healthy dialogue with your partner, especially if you or your partner have high sex drives. 
  • Communication is KEY. I cannot emphasize this enough! In fact, communication is critical in every aspect of sex, romance, and relationships. Be ready to receive your partner’s requests and also be open to expressing yourself. 
  • Keep it clean. One simple equation: Clean Body + Clean Practices = Clean of Disease. Use clean hands, clean mouths, and clean toys during sex play, and make sure to clean all of those after!
  • Remember the golden rule: no glove, no love! ALWAYS USE CONDOMS. Condoms are highly recommended, especially to protect against infection and disease, and as a means of birth control. Even If you are with a stable partner, still use condoms, they are 99% effective against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. And no, the pull out method does not work.
  • Get the right-sized condom! The problem for many Desi men is not knowing the need for a better fitting condom. Studies found that the internationally standardized size for condoms may be oversized for the average South Asian penis. The risk of not wearing the right condom is disease, pregnancy, and even the possibility of losing a condom inside your partner.
  • Lube is your best friend. Having a small bottle of lube goes a long way, and can actually make sex even more enjoyable. Be sure to use water-based lubricants. Try it in different flavors too.
  • STIs & STDs: This is a very important conversation! Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) occur when bacteria or viruses enter your body and begin to multiply. Some may mature into diseases, called Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Practice safe, protected, clean sex and get tested at least once every 6 months (if you are engaging in sex with multiple partners, then more regularly). If you are in a stable, committed relationship, you STILL need to go get tested. 
  • Masturbation is healthy. And yes, even if you have a partner, you can still enjoy your alone time or share the experience together as a form of intimacy. As for toys, it’s all about choice! So explore your options and find what gives you the best pleasure.
  • Consent is extremely important! ASK first, and remember, no means no! Cinema has deviated far from reality. Many times, stalking, persistent pursuit, and verbal/sexual harassment is considered romantic. Let me be clear – it is just harassment unless the other party has consented. Read the situation, understand your partner, understand your sexual relationship, and always ask if you are unsure! Also keep in mind that your partner may not want to have sex, so do not force it. Take time to find out why and what you can do to help. It’s all about keeping up conversations. 
  • Whether you are trying to be more intimate with your partner or you are trying to just have sex or create a sensual experience, communication is at the core of it all! Don’t be afraid to ask what each of you likes, how it feels, or spice it up by engaging in dirty talking. Also take time to build intimacy by asking questions not related to sex at all, like “What are your goals?” or “Where would you want to go for vacation?” or even “How was your day?” All of these are great ways of letting your partner know you care. 

Often, we are not having healthy conversations like these in our households, let alone in our Desi communities. Spread the word and educate others around you.

For anyone who is looking for more support or looking to dive in deeper regarding romance, dating, marriage, and/or sex, schedule a free 40-minute consultation with me. Also, keep an eye out for my next Sex Education workshop, where I will be going in-depth about all the tips I mentioned here and more!

Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.