At BHAV, we believe in empowering women to find unique ways to embrace their cultural heritage. We started 'The Culture Connection' to explore the impact (both good and bad) of heritage on a variety of incredible women, and understand how it continues to play an influential role in their lives. We invite you to join us on this journey, with the hope that you find value in these conversations.
Meera (@meerasharm) is the founder of the 'The School of Sass,' a platform for finding your "inner sass." Meera is also the host of 'The Sass Life' on Rukus Avenue Radio and has also appeared on the famous British show, 'Take Me Out.' Meera is a big supporter of women doing what they enjoy in life and strives to create a community where we all feel nurtured to do so. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, boxing and painting. Read on as she explains why spreading her "inner sass" is so important to everyone and has inspired many.
On Her South Asian Heritage:
What's your background?
Half Gujarati and half Punjabi, born in Britain.
How has, or currently does your heritage play a role in your life?
Even though I didn’t grow up around the Asian community in Britain I’ve always been in tune with my culture either via cuisine or largely Bollywood movies, ha, I watched a lot growing up. Fortunately, I never had to deal with the negative side of the culture such as the ‘community’ which in the UK can be quite intrusive (so I’ve heard…) or Aunty culture!
My whole idea of Indian culture was based on what I saw in my extended family There’s a lot of opinionated, ambitious women (I have 6 aunts and my Nani-ma was a G!)! To me this has shaped my life as I’ve always been encouraged to pursue my dreams and live my best life.
For those who are not familiar, how was it like growing up as a South Asian female in the UK? Was there a big South Asian community where you lived and did you face any struggles growing up in that particular community?
I grew up in a small village, in the North West of England (countryside living!). It’s a predominantly white area but to be completely honest I never felt out of place or struggled to integrate as that’s all I knew. I went to an all girls school in Liverpool, and I found my clique of friends and I fitted in just fine.
I moved to London, to pursue my degree in Fashion Design at University, and there weren't really any South Asians on the course, so again I wouldn’t say I embraced the community. Going to keep it real but I don’t resonate with British Asian culture (to this day I have like 2 British Asian friends, outside of family). I would say it was when I started traveling to the USA that I became more proud of my culture and mixed with the wider South Asian community - I resonate more with South Asians in America, they have a good balance between being proud of their culture but also being American - they get the best of both worlds!
Your newly launched radio show called, 'The Sass Life', centers around topics on self identity, motivation, and interviews with inspirational people who have found their own special way of channeling that "inner sass." What inspired you to start a radio show related to this matter? Has your heritage or personal experiences influenced you on how you find your inner sass?
I’ve always believed you can do whatever you want to in life, you just have to believe in yourself! Out of my friend circle, I was always the one who was encouraging everyone to fulfill their potential or follow their dreams, which led me to publish 'The Little Book of Sass', which is a book full of motivational quotes - when you are feeling down, open a page and the sassy motivational quote will make you feel better! On the back of my book, and with all the extra time during lock-down, I created my platform 'The School of Sass', to give us the tools we need to channel our inner sass and live our best life! When the opportunity arose to partner with Rukus Avenue Radio x Dash Radio to expand my platform in the form of a radio show I jumped at it! I have full creative control; my guests are notable women who are experts in their fields. I want women, everywhere, to feel empowered and learn from each other. I feel as women we need that reminder to believe in ourselves and not feel guilty for doing what’s best for us and that’s exactly what The Sass Life is here to remind us of!
My definition of "sassy" is to be self assured, spirited and bold - I’ve certainly inherited this from my Gujarati side - all the women in my family are all sassy, go-getters. I want everyone out there to channel that in themselves and live their best life.
You were on the famous dating show called, 'Take Me Out' in the UK. Give us an insight on this experience and what it was like representing South Asian females on the show. What did you learn from this experience and what advice do you have for someone who is looking to break through the typical Indian stereotypes in arts/media?
Growing up I had never seen anyone like me on TV - all the narratives I saw around South Asian women, in the UK, were always about them escaping from their restricted family life (aka Bend it like Beckham -no shade to the movie but if I wanted to play football I wouldn’t have to hide it from my family). Whilst these stories are true for many British Asian’s it did not resonate with me. I’ve always been encouraged to do what I want and I really wanted to show the UK that we are not monolithic. Going on a show on ITV was the perfect platform to do this as it has a very large audience reach! From my bold outfits to my sassy one liners, I was able to show UK audiences that contrary to the image they may have seen on TV, there are Indian women, like myself, who are happy to voice likes and dislikes and go on a mainstream dating show. I wouldn’t want to say I’m representing ALL South Asian women, but I did my bit to show the UK another side to Indian women.
For those reading this that are looking to break through the stereotypes just continuing being true to yourself, don’t be afraid to show your authentic self and personality! Also, don’t let anyone else define you or your story - you control your own narrative!!
What do you love most about South Asian fashion? Any favorite pieces/outfits growing up?
So much to love - the intricate detail, the colors, textures - so much skill goes into creating one outfit.
I love wearing vintage silk saris and a big red bindi - it’s my staple look.
What's your favorite thing in your closet right now, or the piece that gives you the most confidence?
Before the pandemic hit I purchased a silver suit - I still haven’t been able to wear it so I am definitely looking forward to working it when I have a great event to go to! I love bold suits, in general, and I enjoy pairing suit jackets with cycling shorts and sneakers. Fashion in general is a great confidence booster as it allows you to show your personality!
What's your go-to cocktail, spirit or drink?
I don’t drink! I’m really into healthy living so if I’m not drinking water you will probably find me with carrot and ginger juice!
What are you currently watching?
Name of the best book you've read in a while?
'Unlimited Memory' by Kevin Horsley.
Morning person or night owl?
What's 1 small thing you couldn't give up (daily ritual, accessory/personal item, etc.)?
My daily walks - during the various lockdowns going out for a daily walk, in the countryside, has become a ritual - I never take my phone, so it’s a great way to just refresh my mind, get some fresh air and not think of anything!