18, Diploma of Creative Direction for Fashion

Hello, my name is Punita. I'm 18 years old. I'm studying diploma in creative direction for fashion in LASALLE.

What’s your family’s cultural background?

I'm Indian. I'm born in Singapore. So my parents are both from India, and specifically Tamil Nadu, which is in the southern region of India. And then they migrated to Singapore after they got married. And my dad found a job here. I think he liked it because of the good education and safety. So he decided to migrate here. Yeah, so, I'm the second generation.

What’s your relationship with the Singaporean identity?

I would say I partially agree with it. First, I would say I resonate with the Singapore identity because I was born here and I grew up here. So I study in normal neighbourhood schools and, basically practice the usual Singaporean way of life. I also learned about its culture, racial and cultural harmony and how to respect each other's cultures, and of course, Singlish. All of these are a very iconic parts of Singapore, I would say. So I feel very attached to the Singapore identity in a way. But also I feel displaced by it sometimes. Because I'm a minority and I feel like I just don't fit in, in certain situations. Like, job opportunities, or educational opportunities, or even in some social situations, there's always this biasness that I feel.

Tell us about your chosen objects

I brought this necklace, which is my grandmother's necklace. She gave it to me many years ago, when I was young. She came to Singapore to visit our family, which is quite a hard decision, because she's very used to staying in India. She came with my grandfather, like taking a passport and coming alone. It was very difficult and scary, but she still managed to come here. When I was young, I used to join a lot of speech competitions every year. And somehow, I won like the first place. My Grandma was my lucky charm in a way. Because I started winning after she came here. She gave me the necklace as a token of celebration.The necklace is very traditional, and was crafted in the old ways. Nowadays, the jewellery has changed a lot in India to a more temporary jewellery. So, it's very fancy and very bright,

colourful, but that's not really my style. And somehow me and Grandma have similar tastes in necklace, even though I never really talk to her about fashion or anything like that. For me, the necklace also symbolise our view on modern fusion of tradition. Even though Grandma was raised in a conservative space. She always had an open mind to many things, and she was accepting of the fusion between tradition and modernity. Because we feel like with traditions, you don't need to show it but rather value it at your heart, so you can be modern. So I really like that we have a very similar ideology. I would say it's the most valuable possession I have.

Are there any external influences that have shaped your cultural identity?

Definitely social media, I went through several phases with it. At first I was really Western centric, I looked at various Western influencers and body image, so I was really influenced by it. But then, as time went on, I started to look up to Asian influencers like Lilly Singh, Michelle Phan. From them, I was drawn to embrace my native culture. So really, social media get me to study my own culture more, and it get me into fashion.

What are your thoughts on labels placed on one's racial or ethnic identity? 

So, I really think it's wrong to put labels like that. I mean, I don't even think we should label them in the first place. I think it's very unfair. It gives more separation towards each person. And it’s ironic, because we are all human in the end. I think labels makes the gap between each culture unnecessarily bigger.