Wedding Beauty Lookbook Weddings

This is how Desi creatives have revolutionized Mehendi

This Eid ul Fitr was the second time the festivities were held under a strict lockdown due to the global pandemic. My mom and I were once again tasked with applying Mehendi on each other’s hands the night before Eid. A task we would have – under ordinary circumstances – delegated to someone far more skilled.   

The first step was choosing a design. Since neither of us happened to be seasoned experts in applying Mehendi (my mom initially struggled with how to hold the henna cone), we resorted to scrolling through the Instagram Mehendi tag, waiting for inspiration to strike. We were immediately bombarded with a flurry of designs – Arabic Mehendi, different colors, glitter, stamps, stickers, and paisleys.

As midnight drew near, we sat in our living room, combing through endless content and rejecting each other’s picks. In the midst of all this, I pulled up Dr. Azra’s Instagram account. For those unfamiliar with her work, Dr. Azra has a verified Instagram platform of over 126,000 followers where she is most known for her ‘minimalist Mehendi art’, a phrase that many traditionalists would reckon to be an oxymoron.

This incredible demand for more of her work prompted the Mehendi artist to start her own brand of henna cones and stencils. Her artwork has been featured in exhibitions and renowned publications including Vogue and Allure, and she has even hosted workshops where she teaches the unique, often geometric, brand of Mehendi designs that have become synonymous with her name. She is biannually tagged in thousands of ‘inspired by @dr.azra’ Instagram stories before both Eids. 

Five posts of simple henna designs on a hand and one post advertising a henna cone and stencil kit in a box.
[Image Description: Five posts of simple henna designs on a hand and one post advertising a henna cone and stencil kit in a box. ] Via Dr.Azra on Instagram
Needless to say, I’m a huge fan. My mom? Not so much.

Not only did my mom make a face at every design of Dr. Azra’s when I tried to coax her into imitating her designs, but she couldn’t understand why anyone would want to have simple geometric patterns and lines temporarily tattooed onto their hands. Meanwhile, I found myself steering clear of the intricate designs that came up with images of fully decked-out brides (I had pretty realistic expectations of my Mehendi design abilities) and felt drawn to the more simplistic variants of Mehendi designs.

So, instead of drawing the poor-man’s-version of Arabic Mehendi or a chess-board imprint on our hands, we met in the middle and settled on a simple floral design.

Two hands with floral Mehendi patterns applied placed across from each other on a checkered background
[Image Description: Two hands with floral Mehendi patterns applied placed across from each other on a checkered background] Via Izzah Khan
Mehendi has been around for centuries, with its earliest use documented in Egypt where it was used to nourish hair and stain fingernails. It was then adopted by people in India (the subcontinent, not the present-day political state) and used for body art. Mehendi has even become synonymous with South Asian wedding ceremonies, where henna is applied to the hands and sometimes the feet of the bride pre-wedding reception. It is also a big part of chand raat (moon night) culture for Muslims, which is the name given to the night before Eid, when most of the prep for the festivities of the following day take place.

However, the chand raat experience with my mom did leave me wondering why our tastes regarding a centuries-old tradition happen to be so diametrically opposed. A reason I settled on was how desi creatives of recent times have been successful in reclaiming parts of their culture they were largely ostracized for growing up.

I remember being told to scrub my hands clean to fade the Mehendi faster after returning to school from our Eid break. This happened whilst living in Pakistan, when I attended a school where the majority of the population were Muslims who celebrated Eid. Still, we were taught that something so ingrained in our culture was not part of our uniform. We have been told henna tattoos look unprofessional, or mocked for how Mehendi smells. This has more to do with how we equate whiteness to professionalism and propriety than with anything wrong on our part. Despite how often I get made fun of for linking everything back to colonization, this too is derivative of it.

[Image Description: Mughal-era painting depicting an Indian man and Indian woman with Mehendi patterns adorning her hands and feet.] Via
Mughal-era Painting depicting an Indian woman with Mehendi on her hands.
[Image Description: Mughal-era Painting depicting an Indian woman with Mehendi on her hands.] Via
Nowadays, Mehendi has become far more mainstream and garnered the white-people-stamp-of-approval. I’ve scrolled past videos of natural redheads applying henna to their hair for vibrancy and the added health benefits (known to us of course, for centuries), TikTok influencers showing us how to use henna cones to draw on fake freckles and temporary tattoos, with their videos raking in hundreds of thousands of views.

In reclaiming our culture, desi creatives brought forth a new era of Mehendi, essentially breathing new life into a tradition that had otherwise seen little innovation over the past couple of decades. This trend of minimalist Mehendi is an act of defiance and rebellion, just as much as it is one of celebration.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Shopping Gift Guides Unique Parents Kids 2020 Gift Guide

31 stunning Eid gifts you can get from women-owned businesses

If you’ve still got Eid gifts to buy, eyes bleary from scrolling through shops online, then you’re in luck. These brands have you covered with one-of-a-kind gifts for family, friends, and loved ones. We’ve gathered some of our favorite products and treated you with some special The Tempest discount codes and offers!

1. Daily Glow Collection from By Noussou

A woman wearing the Maskquerade Facial Mask holds up the black tub of Noussou product.
[Image Description: A woman wearing the Maskquerade Facial Mask holds up the black tub of Noussou product]. Via @misspalettable_ on Instagram.

Give the gift of an everlasting glow with this cleanser, toner, and serum combo. Trust us when we say that the Army of Youth Serum is out of this world! By Noussou is founded by UAE-based sisters on a journey to provide a range of all-natural, vegan and chemical-free skincare products so that women can safely pursue clearer skin.

Get it on their website for 180 AED. Or use the code: FRESH15 for a 15% discount!

2. Noor Heritage Clutch from Organiq Living

[Image Description: A gold and red metal clutch.] Via Oraniq Living
[Image Description: A gold and red metal clutch.] Via Oraniq Living
Support sustainable fashion with these beautifully ornate handmade metal clutches, made out of eco-friendly materials. This red and gold clutch is an accessory like no other. Organiq Living is an in-line store selling Ethical & Sustainable Lifestyle Products. Browse their clothing and accessory line for more great options.

Get it on their website for 150 AED.

3. The Paintlet from Rock Paper Project

A hand holding a paintbrush painting on the canvas provided in the Paintlet.
[Image Description: A hand holding a paintbrush painting on the canvas provided in the Paintlet.] Via @ripemarket on Instagram

The Paintlet is a bespoke painting kit that includes everything you need to make a beautiful acrylic painting. This is not just for the artistically inclined people in your life! Anyone can have fun painting with this kit. With the rise in DIY culture as we spend a lot more time indoors, this would be the perfect gift to help someone pass the time in a creative and enjoyable way.

Get it on their website for 129 AED.

4. Natural Henna Cones from Aniq Henna

Image description: Two arms, showing henna designs on the back of the hands and forearms with roses in the background. The designs include patterns of whorls.
[Image description: Two arms, showing henna designs on the back of the hands and forearms with roses in the background. The designs include patterns of whorls.] Via @ladiesmarket_dubai on Instagram.

Henna is a wonderful gift to give to loved ones. Especially this henna, which is all-natural. It’s beautiful when applied, fun to learn and draw, a unique way to channel your creative self, and when you apply it with others, it’s an opportunity to bond as you spend time together.

Order for 10 AED per cone (you can customize a gift hamper of various products!) by direct-messaging their instagram account.

5. Chocolate-filled Gift Box from Co Chocolat

A selection of chocolate bars and a jar of Gianduja spread displayed in a crate full of flowers.
[Image description: A selection of chocolate bars and a jar of Gianduja spread in a store display in a crate full of flowers.] Via @ripemarket on Instagram

This gift box is a treasure trove of delicious chocolatey goods!  Packaged beautifully, this gift includes one packet of ground cacao, one packet of cacao nibs, one family sized Chocolatl, and one Gianjduja chocolate spread. These are all guaranteed to be delicious, but possibly the most exciting one is the Chocolatl, with which you can make traditional hot chocolate made from pure cacao. The varying levels of dark chocolate in these artisanal delights that come in many different flavors make for a lovely gift box to enjoy. Whether it’s for someone with a sweet tooth or just someone you know who would enjoy a stellar cup of hot coco, this is a sweet, thoughtful gift.

Get it on their website for 172 AED.

6. Comfy Loungewear from Dimension

A woman wears a white hoodie with the words 'Let's continue social distancing' in black lettering on the back.
[Image Description: A woman wears a white hoodie with the words ‘Let’s continue social distancing’ in black lettering on the back]. Via @Dimensionae on Instagram.

Stay comfy this lockdown with loungewear from Dimension. These hoodies not only have a good social message but can be worn around the house and to run small errands. No one said staying in could look this good! Dimension is a UAE-based brand with a mission to bring oversized LA inspired streetwear style to the Gulf. They also sell trendy silk scrunchies and beautiful art prints.

Get it on their website for 40 AED. Or use the discount code for 15% off using the code: TheTempest

7. Lgaimat Mix from Treat Me Gluten Free

Lgaimat with sesame seeds in a platter next to a packet of the lgaimat mix
[Image Description: Lgaimat with sesame seeds in a platter next to a packet of the lgaimat mix]. Via @treatmeglutenfree on Instagram.

Who doesn’t love lgaimat? The crisp fried dough balls coated with dates syrup are loved by all. Digging into the traditional Emirati dessert is what makes Eid so special. But what if you could make your own at home? Treat Me Gluten Free is a licensed home business that sells a nut-free and gluten-free lgaimat mix that everyone will love. Make it on your own and gift a platter, or gift the mix for a thoughtful and fun Eid present.

Order it on their website for 32 AED. Or use the code: tempest10 for 10% off, valid from today until Aug 24, 2020.

8. Perfume Set from Arcadia

 Two bottles of perfume on a book next to pink roses
[Image Description: Two bottles of perfume on a book next to pink roses]. Via @sahar_reviews on Instagram.
It may be intimidating to buy perfumes online, as the scents can be hard to imagine. But Arcadia makes online perfume shopping so enjoyable with the carefully crafted narratives that accompany each scent! Their curated gift set of the best-selling scents is sure to win over the lucky person that receives it. Arcadia by Amna prides itself on bringing unexpected sensory experiences by mixing and distilling quality essences. The company’s commitment to sustainably sourcing its ingredients makes it even more worth supporting.

Shop their gift set on their website for 500 AED. Get 20% off entire online order using our exclusive discount code: TEMPEST active from July 29 until September 15.

9. Soap Sampler from Mint + Laurel

Wrapped damask jasmine soap bar and citrus candle in glass jar.
[Image Description: Wrapped damask jasmine soap bar and a citrus candle in a glass jar.] Via @olivenheart on Instagram.

A soap sampler is a perfect set to give someone special as they can try out an array of special scents and even take it with them on-the-go. Give a gift with a cause. Not only does this soap bar set look good and come in aromatic scents like damask rose and lavender bay leaf, but also, every purchase supports artisan partners from vulnerable communities in Syria and Lebanon and helps preserve an ancient heritage. The bags and packaging are all eco-friendly as well.

Get it on their website for 58 AED.

10. Textured Cotton Blanket from Curate Labs

An assortment of pillows and blankets on a bed.
[Image description: An assortment of pillows and blankets on a bed] Via Curate Labs on Facebook.

This beautiful saffron cotton blanket with its textured weave, kantha stitching, and frayed edges would be a statement addition to any home. It comes in a wide variety of colors such as navy blue, forest green, and pale pink. Whether used as a blanket or a throw, its refined, light touch can make any room feel cozier. Anyone who receives this is sure to feel thankful that their living space is that much brighter.

Get it on their Facebook page for 400 AED (it’s usually 500AED, but there’s a special summer discount!)

11. Luxury Gift Set from Urban Quill 

The Noir gift box which includes the Starry Eye Mask, Renew Bath Salts Loqaimat chocolate, and Charcoal soap
[Image description: The Noir gift box which includes the Starry Eye Mask, Renew Bath Salts Loqaimat chocolate, and Charcoal soap] Via Urban Quill.

Urban Quill is a luxury gift studio that aims to simplify your gift-shopping experience by curating gift boxes based on themes. Got a friend that is using this lockdown to follow along to Chloe Ting workouts? There’s a fitness guru box perfect for them. Or for the person that just wants to Netflix and chill. Or a handsome dad. There’s something for everyone. But, if you want to go the extra mile you can even customize your own box. 

Shop the Noir gift box on their website for 305 AED. Their range of ready gift boxes starts at 130 AED. Get 10% with the exclusive discount code: Eid10. 

12. Custom Embroidered Gift Set from HuDeBoutique

[Image description: A customized golden prayer mat and Wudhu Towel with the name ‘Fahad’ embroidered on, as well as prayer beads. ] Via HuDeBoutique. 
[Image description: A customized golden prayer mat and Wudhu Towel with the name ‘Fahad’ embroidered on, as well as prayer beads. ] Via HuDeBoutique.

Who doesn’t love a gift made especially for them? This UAE-based Instagram store specializes in making every gift unique by embroidering names onto its selection of products. The new collection of Customized Prayer Mat gift sets would be a great Eid gift for couples, mother & daughter, friends, and family.

Order the gift set for 205 AED by direct-messaging their Instagram account. 

13. Hand-crafted cheese boards from Carpe Diem Space

[Image description: A wooden cheeseboard with bamboo designs. A key is tied around its handle and there are plants in the background.
[Image description: A wooden cheese board with bamboo designs. A key is tied around its handle and there are plants in the background. ] Via Carpe Diem Space

These handmade cheese boards are a creative gift for the ones that love being in the kitchen and preparing aesthetic dishes for their family and friends. Carpe Diem Space has been created with a lot of passion and love for art, nature, and craftsmanship. Each product at Carpe Diem Space is designed to add color, style, and personality to your space.

Get it on their website starting at 80 AED.

14. Trendy bag from Boutiqna

A woman in a white turtleneck and satin skirt holding a burgundy croc exterior semi-circle handbag.
[Image description: A woman in a white turtleneck and satin skirt holding a burgundy croc exterior semi-circle handbag. ] Via @sofyabaker on Instagram

For the one that is always ahead of the fashion curve. This mini handbag is so trendy and will instantly elevate any outfit. Boutiqna is UAE-based but delivers worldwide and its collections are at affordable prices so that every lady can feel fashionable.

Get it on their website for 79 AED.  

15. Beauty Box from Haul in One

A box containing beauty products: Glam and Glow cleanser, coffee scrub, highlighter, Arcadia perfume, face mask, and brow product.
[Image description: A box containing beauty products: Glam and Glow cleanser, coffee scrub, highlighter, Arcadia perfume, face mask, and brow product. ] Via @officialhidubai on Instagram

Brighten someone’s day with this beauty haul box containing all the best products from a variety of different beauty and skincare brands.  Haul in One is the hottest beauty subscription box in the UAE and there is just enough time to give one of their special, customized hauls for the upcoming Eid. Just go onto their website and fill in your loved one’s information for this out-of-this-world gift.

Gift a haul on their website for 299 AED. Get 10% with the exclusive discount code: TEMPEST10. 

16. Portrait Session from Nithya Rajkumar Photography

A portrait of a woman with long hair wearing a blouse.
[Image description: A portrait of a woman with long hair wearing a blouse.] Via Nithya Rajkumar Photography.
Sometimes gifting an experience, rather than an object, is the way to go. This photographer is offering a special Eid discount of 50% off to female entrepreneurs who wish to have their business portraits or lifestyle branding images done. Whether it’s for revamping their online presence or they’re just getting started on a new professional venture, this will be an unforgettable gesture of support to a loved one. The session will include four portrait shots and is currently only available to women based in Dubai.

Gift a session on their website for 495 AED (this is an Eid special, regular prices are 990AED – what a great deal!)

17. Judgement-free Decluttering and Organizing Services from Decluttr Me

There is a bed behind which there is a bedside table with a lamp and a closet that shows neatly arranged shirts hanging up, towels folded, a hamper, and shoes and handbags lined up on the shelves.
[Image description: There is a bed behind which there is a bedside table with a lamp and a closet that shows neatly arranged shirts hanging up, towels folded, a hamper, and shoes and handbags lined up on the shelves.] Via @decluttrme on Instagram.

There’s definitely someone in your life who came to mind when you read this, right? Sometimes we don’t realize just how many items we hold onto without ever really finding a place for them. Or maybe you have a friend or family member who just moved and is struggling to figure out where things go in the new place. Either way, decluttering is a daunting task. With the gift of Decluttr Me’s services, you can gift consultation and hands-on help (ranging from the half to full-day options!), as well as expert tips for the future.

Gift any of these three packages on their website by filling out the contact form with the details you want to provide. You will then be informed of the exact cost. Be sure to quote temp10 for a 10% discount!

18. Dress from Modest Me

A woman wearing makeup and a black hijab stands in front of a building with arches. She is wearing a long-sleeved, high-collared dress with embroidery.
[Image description: A woman wearing makeup and a black hijab stands in front of a building with arches. She is wearing a long-sleeved, high-collared dress with embroidery.] Via @modestme_ae on Instagram.

Since we’re spending more time indoors (sigh), we’re probably wearing pajamas more than ever before. Giving the gift of a glamorous outfit is sure to make someone’s day, encouraging them to celebrate their beauty. This is probably more suited for friends or family whose dress sizes you know, but either way, Modest Me has a wide range of loose, flowing clothing that will make any woman feel like a queen. Be sure to check out their Eid collection especially!

Get it on their website starting at 80 AED.

19. Earrings from Statement by Nisha

A woman wearing amethyst drop earrings.
[Image description: A woman wearing amethyst drop earrings.] Via Statement by Nisha

Hesitant about dress sizes but still want to get something that your loved one can wear and cherish? Jewelry is another great gift option! These earrings from a bespoke jewelry designer in Dubai will be an elegant statement piece to any outfit.

Get it on their website for 68 AED.

20. Silk Pajama Set from Sleepjs

A woman running her hand through her hair leans back on a bed with pillows. She is wear a long-sleeved silk pajama top and bottoms.
[Image description: A woman running her hand through her hair leans back on a bed with pillows. She is wearing a long-sleeved silk pajama top and bottoms.] Via Sleepjs on Facebook.

A classic silk pajama set are the perfect gift for that cool older sister in your life. The luxurious feel of the silk along with the cute look of a matching set is sure to make your loved ones feel extra comfortable at home and ready for bed. 

If you’re not exactly sure about the size or color they would prefer, you can still go for a gift card from Sleepjs. It still shows that you put thought into the gift and that you care about your loved one’s comfort and practice of self-care.

Get it on their website for 220 AED.

21. Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase from Sleep in Beauty Silk

A book, wineglass, necklaces, and silk pillowcase are strewn on bedding.
[Image description: A book, wineglass, necklaces, and silk pillowcase are strewn on bedding.] Via @aceandboogie on Instagram.

Keeping with the sleep theme, silk pillowcases are an incredible treat to gift to a loved one. Coming in sleek packaging, the mulberry silk pillowcases makes for much less friction compared to traditional cotton pillowcases. This is great for so many reasons. It’s hypoallergenic, thermoregulating, and gentle on both your skin and hair. Maybe most importantly, it feels so luxurious! Who doesn’t love to be pampered for a good night’s rest?

Get it on their website for 277 AED.

22. Silk scrunchie set from Beauty Silk

Three silk scrunchies in beige tones against silk pillowcases.
[Image description: Three silk scrunchies in beige tones against silk pillowcases.] Via @beautysilkdubai on Instagram.
These 100% silk scrunchies protect against hair damage, reduce frizziness, and naturally repair hair– all in your sleep. What more can you ask for? Whoever is the lucky receiver of this gift will be over the moon with the results. They come in packs of 3 in two different color schemes “Oreo” and “Vanilla”. 

Get it on their website for AED 110.

23. Organic Handmade Cold Processed Soaps and Scrubs from Adrita

Two of the available ‘Zaytun’ organic soaps made from dried olive leaves for soft and supple skin.
[Image description: Two of the available ‘Zaytun’ organic soaps made from dried olive leaves for soft and supple skin.] Via @adr_ita on Instagram.
If you think soap can’t be a great Eid gift, that’s because you haven’t tried the ones made by Adrita. Coming in beautiful colors and made of all-natural ingredients, these handcrafted skincare products are made in small batches and produce zero waste.

Whether you have loved ones who are already interested in organic, eco-friendly skincare, or maybe some who have yet to be introduced to the amazing benefits of using such products, these beautiful artisanal soaps are sure to be a well-received gift. As a special Eid bundle offer, you can get two organic soaps and one organic scrub.

Order the Eid bundle for 150 AED by direct-messaging their Instagram account.

24. Eid Cake Toppers from Party UAE

[Image description: Gold Arabic Eid cake topper on a chocolate cake.]
[Image description: Gold Arabic Eid cake topper on a chocolate cake.] Via @_the_party on Instagram.
Add the Eid spirit and a sparkly flourish to any baked treat with these Eid cake toppers. Choose from 7 different colors and finishes, from matte gold and bamboo to white, birch, and mirror gold. There are also different size packs to choose from, with the standard being 5 pieces and going up to 50. These will be sure to please anyone as well as look great on their social media feeds. 

Order this on their website for 75 AED. 

25. Arabic Teapot Pop-up Card from Abra Cards

[Image description: A pop-up card with a silver Arabic teapot and small cups on a brown platter.]
[Image description: A pop-up card with a silver Arabic teapot and small cups on a brown platter.] Via Abra Cards.
Not everyone is taken by material gifts, some prefer thoughtful presents like greeting cards. Surprise your loved ones with this pop up Arabian teapot that is sure to amaze them and make a great ornament on their coffee table.  Abracards were named the Middle East’s leading handcrafted pop-up card company and looking at their products, that comes as no surprise. 

Get it on their website for 59 AED.

26. Home Fragrance gift pack from You Rock Dubai

A soy wax candle wrapped in a black bow beside a reed defuser also tied with a black bow. Both are on a wooden table and behind them is the black gift box.
[Image description: A soy wax candle wrapped in a black bow beside a reed defuser also tied with a black bow. Both are on a wooden table and behind them is the black gift box.] Via @yourockdubai on Instagram

Send out this beautiful gift set to your loved ones and share the happiness of togetherness. You Rock Dubai offers beautiful and stylish gift boxes for every occasion. Their limited edition Eid soy wax candles and reed diffuser gift set is scented with traditional Oud and aromatic Amber Noir.

Order it on their website for 195 AED. Get a 20% discount with the promo code: tempest20. 

27. Photobook from Instorya

Image description: A photo of a family on the cover of a photobook. It is on a wooden table next to a cup and some colored pencils.
[Image description: A photo of a family on the cover of a photobook. It is on a wooden table next to a cup and some colored pencils.] Via

Preserve your cherished memories with this customizable photo book. This is a gift that will never be forgotten. Instorya is all about looking back at all your memories and sharing them with others. All you have to do is download the app, select the photos and size, and the rest is taken care of!  

Order up to 105 pages of a softcover photobook on their website for 135 AED. Use the code: INSTANTSTORY for 20% discount on your first order!

28. Personalized Tote Bag from Sew A Gift

[Image description: A colorful tote bag made out of a patchwork of different fabrics and patterns.] Via @sewagift on Instagram.

The perfect gift is one that’s both useful and carries sentimental value. With a personalized tote bag from Sew A Gift, which comes with a zippered pocket inside the lining, give your loved one a gift that they will always cherish. You can specify exactly what design, colors, words, and pattern you have in mind, and Sew A Gift will do their best to work with you and sew it into reality. 

Get it on their website for a price range of 12-85 AED.

29. My Handy Workshop from Factory Price

[Image description: Four photos of My Handy Workshop showing small wooden wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, rulers, nuts, and bolts.] Via Factory Price.

Here’s a gift for any young ones that you’re shopping for! This children’s wooden toolbox set presents endless opportunities for kids to play, be imaginative, and learn problem-solving strategies. With such carefully crafted miniature wooden tools in their own toolbox, each one painted with a non-toxic finish safe for kids, this makes a great hands-on toy for children.

Get it on their website for 75 AED.

30. Personalized Agate Keychains from SG Letters

[Image description: Various agate keychains in different colors with different names written in calligraphy one each one.] Via Instagram / @sgletters

It’s pretty easy to see why these went viral during the last holiday season, and we’re here for it. The agate comes in a wide range of beautiful colors, making for elegant, eye-catching keychains. Get matching ones for family and friends or many uniquely different ones for the loved ones you have in mind. The keychain can include any few words in lovely calligraphy – it could be a name (or even just the initials if you want it monogrammed), a special date, or maybe a word or a quote with personal significance.

Get it from their website for 35 AED (comes with gift box)

31. Engraved Himalayan Salt Lamp from U Own Calmness

[Image description: Himalayan salt lamp on a wooden side table with three candles. Next to the table there are the corners of some pillows and some plants visible.] Via U Own Calmness

Himalayan salt lamps are a unique statement piece to any household and create a calm, relaxing atmosphere. As we’re all spending more time indoors, a gift like this to make someone’s living space more enjoyable would be much appreciated. To make it even more special, you can contact U Own Calmness about the engraving service they offer in both Arabic calligraphy as well as English.

Get this by direct-messaging their Instagram account. Prices start at 60 AED and the lamps with Arabic calligraphy are 200 AED.


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Book Club Books Pop Culture

Navigating queerness & tradition in YA fiction with Adiba Jaigirdar, author of “The Henna Wars”

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher with an MA in Postcolonial Studies. Her latest book, The Henna Wars, is a poignant story about two Muslim girls falling in love.

Be sure to check out our live Instagram event featuring Adiba and our own editor, Shaima. We’re also doing a giveaway of her book, enter now!


Adiba Jaigirdar’s debut novel The Henna Wars stems from a genuine desire to inspire joy. She was drawn to “write a story that made [her] happy and that was funny to read and fun to write.” She settled on the idea of a romantic comedy with two teen girls with rival henna businesses while “attempting (and failing) to teach [herself] henna”.

Looking to up the stakes of the girls’ rivalry, Adiba imagined what it would be like “if the two girls were also romantically attracted to each other, and grappling with what that might mean.” From there, everything else came together to make this wonderful tale of love, longing, and growing up. 

The Henna Wars revolves around themes of queerness, first love, culture, and family. Adiba interjects stories with themes that are relevant to herself and her life, and exploring them in the medium of storytelling.

Her influences range from The Princess Diaries, Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monáe to Bollywood film like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai which she cites as part of her introduction to romance.

She recalls the first time she encountered a person of color writing about people of color in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses (which we love!). Reading her stories made Adiba realize that it was possible to write about people like herself.

As a queer woman of color, she acknowledges that she has a responsibility to represent her culture, gender, and sexuality in her work. “There’s a lot of pressure, especially because there aren’t a lot of novels out there about Bangladeshi teens, and even fewer about queer Bangladeshi Muslim teens,” Adiba said. “Even though realistically I know that it’s impossible to represent everything as you write a single story, I still felt the pressure of that.” 

To her, storytelling cannot be separated from politics. “Especially as a queer Muslim South Asian, there’s no way that what I write is not going to be political. My very existence is political.” 

As she writes in the contemporary era, I was curious to see what she finds unique to the time that we are currently living in. To her, this time is a time of “rising up against oppression and attempting to enact change.” Yet, she believes this has been the case for a while, as “marginalized people have been fighting for our rights for a long time. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.” 

If this story were set in the future, she would love to say that the “characters like Nishat and Flávia wouldn’t have to worry about their sexuality, race, and culture making it more difficult for them to fit in.” However, she has her doubts. “I’m not particularly hopeful of that happening anytime in the near future.” 

For the writers out there or those interested in what happens behind the scenes, Adiba admits that her writing process is “honestly a little chaotic.” When she first begins writing, she “usually have a very basic idea of the story I want to tell. I figure out the important bits that I need to be able to write the story—the beginning, the end, and bits and pieces in the middle. Then, I begin to write and it’s a process of stringing everything together. It’s a little like putting together a puzzle. Once it’s out there on the page, it’s time for me to begin revisions and shape it into something that really works.”

[Image Description: Book cover of The Henna Wars, two girls with henna reaching their hands out to each other.] Via Twitter
[Image Description: Book cover of The Henna Wars, two girls with henna reaching their hands out to each other.] Via Twitter
The scenes that she enjoyed writing the most were the Bengali wedding scenes at the beginning of the book. “Bangladeshi people are obsessed with weddings, and our weddings are a whole event. So it was nice to explore that aspect of my life through the lens of a character like Nishat, who is surrounded by the familiarity of a Bangladeshi wedding, while also stumbling across her childhood crush.” 

As for how it feels to see her work being shared around the world, Adiba admits that “it still feels a little surreal.” Her dreams of being a writer when she was younger seemed to rely on her writing about straight white characters with whom she shared few experiences. Those were some of the only stories that she saw published or have mainstream success. “It was hard for me to imagine a world where someone like me could be writing stories about people like me.” 

In the future, she hopes that The Henna Wars can allow queer brown girls to see a reflection of themselves in its pages, and that it can open doors for more queer brown people to write and publish more of their own stories. 

For those that have enjoyed the latest book-to-movie adaptations like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before or Crazy Rich Asians, Adiba shares that she would love to see The Henna Wars adapted for the big screen in the future. Especially if the potential adaptation stays true to the ethnicities of the characters.

As of now, Adiba is revising her second novel, which will be out from Page Street in spring 2021. It’s another YA romantic comedy which follows two girls—one Bangladeshi Bengali and one Indian Bengali—who have to start a fake relationship in order to achieve what they want. 

Have you entered our Instagram giveaway yet? And if you absolutely cannot wait, get The Henna Wars on Amazon or on The Tempest’s own virtual bookshop supporting local bookstores.
Hair Skin Care DIY Beauty Lookbook

10 Desi beauty secrets you’ve already got in your kitchen

I grew up in a household where my grandmother believed ‘champi’, a head massage with oil, was a non-negotiable, unmissable ritual every night. Acne issues, split ends, dry skin – name a beauty-related issue and she had a solution for it. No, I’m not talking about chemical-infused creams and lotions, but about all-natural beauty secrets. All her solutions were herbal, natural, sometimes even organic. She taught me the importance of coconut oil, turmeric, and sandalwood in my skincare and haircare routines, ingredients that have only just appeared in the mainstream beauty industry.

Instead of spending money on products that are mostly just chemicals, head to your kitchen and you’ve got natural skin and hair care solutions right there. Here’s a list of well-kept South Asian beauty secrets that have been passed down from generation to generation, but are still as effective as ever.

1. Coconut oil

[Image description: Coconuts.] Via Pexels.
My personal favorite, applying coconut oil to your hair on a regular basis can do wonders. It nourishes, thickens, and enhances shine. Additionally, coconut oil can be used to remove makeup, and you can also apply a few drops onto your elbows and ankles on days when your skin feels extremely dry.

2. Curd

A lady massaging her hair.
[Image description: A lady massaging her hair.] Via Giphy.
A cup of coconut oil mixed with curd and you can kiss dandruff and dry scalp goodbye. Curd is also a good moisturizer – apply it on your face for a few minutes and wash it off for softer and brighter skin.

3. Turmeric powder

Turmeric and sandalwood powder.
[Image description: Turmeric and sandalwood powder.] Via Pexels.
One of the most powerful, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant ingredients in your kitchen is turmeric. Before waxing was introduced, South Asians used turmeric to get rid of hair. Apply it on your upper lip over a period of time and you’ll soon see your hair growth reduce. Turmeric can also be used to remove dark spots or improve an uneven skin tone. A mix of turmeric, milk and honey can do wonders to your skin and help get rid of scars and acne.

4. Sandalwood

Actress Jennifer Lawrence talks about how someone smells like sandalwood.
[Image description: Actress Jennifer Lawrence talks about how someone smells like sandalwood.] Via Giphy.
A coolant, sandalwood mixed with turmeric is an ideal combination for a face-mask. Apply the sandalwood paste to your face, let it dry and wash it off for skin that looks instantly brightened and refreshed.

5. Honey

Honey dripping off a spoon.
[Image description: Honey dripping off a spoon.] Via Pexels.
Honey has excellent antibacterial properties and also contains antioxidants. Got a slight burn or scar? Use this for a few days and see it slowly heal and disappear. Beyond external application, one spoon of the ingredient every day can help keep your body well-balanced and nourished, especially for kids.

6. Gram flour

Gram flour spilling from a jar.
[Image description: Gram flour spilling from a jar.] Via Pexels.
Often used in DIY face-masks, gram flour is mostly used to brighten skin, get rid of acne, and fade blemishes. Gram flour, milk, and a pinch of turmeric makes for a fantastic mask. Apply it on your face and body and leave it for at least 20 minutes before you wash it off for maximum effect.

7. Castor oil

A bottle of castor oil.
[Image description: A bottle of castor oil.] Via Pexels.
If you’ve got scanty eyebrows, apply a little bit of castor oil to them every night to grow brow hairs. Castor oil can also help moisturize your skin.

8. Multani Mitti

A GIF of a woman in a green face mask blinking.
[Image description: A GIF of a woman in a green face mask blinking.] Via Giphy.
 Multani Mitti, or Fuller’s Earth, is a type of clay that comes from decomposed volcanic ash, usually cream or yellow in colour. Relax your skin and mind with this age-old beauty secret. Mix it with water, apply the paste to your body, let the mixture dry, wash it off, and revel in how good your skin looks.

9. Egg yolk

7 eggs arranged like a flower. The egg in the middle is cut open to reveal the yolk.
[Image description: 7 eggs arranged like a flower. The egg in the middle is cut open to reveal the yolk.] Via Pexels.
This one’s a little tricky. They’re sticky and smelly, but eggs can give your hair a new lease on life. Mix the egg yolk with the white and apply it to your hair. Let it dry and wash it out carefully and thoroughly – this usually takes a few washes. You can also use the yolk on your face – put in on, let it dry, and wash it off for tightened pores and glowing skin.

10. Henna

A lady exclaims, "I love Henna!".
[Image description: A lady exclaims, “I love Henna!”.] Via Giphy.
Apply this magical green powder to your hair for a hue that can be brown, orange or burgundy, depending on your natural hair color. It also softens and nourishes the hair. Henna contains neem leaves, tea leaves, and a lot of other natural ingredients to make your hair super silky, so you’ll be ready to star in a shampoo ad in no time.


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Science Now + Beyond

Is henna actually safe for you to use?

You either love or hate the smell of henna, and I love it.

For me, it has only ever meant good times. My earliest memories of henna entail weddings, moon sighting parties before Eid, and my mom trying to teach white kids about our culture by bringing something fun to school. Friends of mine have said on separate occasions that it smells like Christmas and, while I don’t know exactly what this means, it is certainly a positive association.

So what a surprise it was when I learned that there were instances where people had in fact been harmed by henna.

Maybe you have an aversion to the smell and stain sure, it’s not for everyone, or maybe you don’t want to wear it for fear of drawing unwanted attention at work. But allergic reactions? Those were new to me.

And then I heard about black henna which is a very real and potentially harmful concern.

Right now in the United States, it’s wedding season, and part of wedding season is lots of henna.

But what about black henna? What is it exactly? How does it work, what’s the science behind it, and should you be concerned?

Henna in its most basic form is actually relatively conditioning on the body.

It is made by grinding up the leaves of the henna plant and mixing them up with water and a mildly acidic liquid like black tea to form a paste. It is only after this paste is made that the leaves will release lawsone, which is key to the stain. Lawsone is a red-orange pigment, and when henna is applied to the skin, it is lawsone bonds to keratin in the skin to produce a stain. People who have used henna before may have noticed that its color appears stronger on the palms of hands as opposed to their backs. This is due to the fact that the skin is thicker here and therefore more layers of lawsone can be absorbed into the deeper layers of skin. This is also possibly one of the reasons henna tends to turn out darker on women of color than on white women, because skin that already has melanin in it tends to be thicker than skin that does not.

Once the henna has dried and the paste has been removed, the henna oxidizes. This is why it can take a few takes to get that sought-after rich hue.

Black henna tends to work much faster than natural henna, and one of the reasons for this is that black henna typically contains less actual henna and more PPD. PPD, or paraphenylenediamine, is a chemical used in black hair dye (hence the name “black henna”). When black henna comes in contact with the outer layer of the skin, it can cause a reaction in some individuals though not everyone reacts. On people with particularly delicate skin, black henna can cause the skin to erupt in red blisters that can sometimes lead to permanent scarring. Some can become sensitized to black henna as well, meaning that, if you come into contact with black henna once, you can later experience a strong adverse reaction to it even if you did not experience one the first time around.

So what does this all amount to? Should you be worried?

Well, it’s a bit hard to say is everyone should be the same amount of concern. There’s not a great wealth of information as to if and how black henna affects different types of skin. However, it’s safe to say that it is certainly best to avoid if possible.

How can you tell black henna from more natural henna? If it’s coming to you in a powdered form, it more likely to be natural if it is of a greener shade as opposed to a deeper black or brown one. Real henna is also never actually black, neither as a paste nor on the hand, but closer to an orange or reddish-brown, so if it looks black, be wary. Some individuals have also said they can tell a difference in the smell between black and natural henna, but there is more research to be conducted on this whole topic.

Many henna cones sold at your local South Asian foods store lack accurate ingredient lists, so it can be hard to tell what’s in them before use. That’s not to say to avoid them entirely, but rather to test them out on a small patch of skin before a full design. If you’re really concerned, you can also look into getting an allergy test done by a professional. In the meantime, if you’re willing and able to find some, there are some local and independent businesses who make their own natural henna cones so you can know and trust exactly what’s in them.

To be honest, I will probably keep using the low-quality cones I get at my local South Asian store. It’s what I’m used to.

But knowing all of this, when faced with the option, I might try instead to go for the organic option. Either way, I don’t know that I’ll ever want to give it up completely.

Via [Image description: A henna design is applied to an outstretched palm.]
Via [Image description: A henna design is applied to an outstretched palm.]

10 ways our celebrities have totally changed Desi weddings

If I were to describe Desi weddings in three words I’d say grandeur, endless events, and food. Well that’s four words to be precise but come on, all Desis out there know that only three words can’t do enough justice in describing our weddings. A flashback to the early 2000’s would show how earlier, our weddings used to be a simple three-day ceremony of just a Mehndi, Nikaah+ Baraat/Rukhsati and a Valima (reception). Yet, sometimes even these three days used to seem hectic and way too long.

Fast-forward to the present, and one often hears people saying, “Oh it’s a short wedding, just three days you know.”

So if a three-day wedding is called short, what is long?! Our weddings, as it turns out, have become a week-long (or sometimes even longer if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands) saga of functions, photo shoots and more functions and more photo shoots.

[bctt tweet=”If a three-day wedding is called short, what is long?!” username=”wearethetempest”]

A factor that heavily influences the wedding industry is the celebrity weddings that happen every year, setting numerous trends which develop a cult-like following. Here’s my take on 10 trends set by celebrity weddings in the last two years.

1. Celebrating things further with bridal showers and bachelorette parties

Attribution: [Image description: People dressed in traditional South Asian dress are dancing and singing 'We do Shaadi all night!'] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: People dressed in traditional South Asian dress are dancing and singing ‘We do Shaadi all night!’] Via Giphy
A relatively new trend in Pakistan, this was first seen at the Urwa-Farhan wedding in December 2016. While the western concept of a bachelorette filled with a night of drinks and strippers can obviously not be incorporated into Pakistani weddings, this event has still become a regular, prior to most weddings with the bride and her girl gang getting dolled up for a night of pictures, dances, and endless gossip!

2. Hosting multiple mehndis and dholkis

Attribution: [Image description: Characters from The Office are dancing with party lights in the background.] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: Characters from The Office are dancing with party lights in the background.] Via Giphy
Because ‘jee ek Mehndi toh larkay walay kareinge aur ek mehndi larki walay’ (One mehndi will be done by the groom’s family, and one by the bride’s). Once again seen at the Urwa-Farhan wedding, a Mehndi which was once a simple event filled with yellows, reds and greens has now been replaced by multiple, extravagant ones done separately by the bride and groom’s families and then done together as well (cause we have shit loads of time, so why not do the same thing thrice?!)

[bctt tweet=”We have shit loads of time, so why not do the same thing thrice?!” username=”wearethetempest”]

3. Holding a Qawaali night

Attribution: [Image description: Ross from Friends is looking upset and saying, 'Why, why would you do that?'] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: Ross from Friends is looking upset and saying, ‘Why, why would you do that?’] Via Giphy
So our Pre-Nikkah events don’t end with bachelorettes, mehndis and dholkis. Qawaali night bhi toh honi chahiye (There totally needs to be a Qawaali night). Enter another night of music, lights, food and fancy-shmancy outfits, except this time it has a Sufi theme to its music (Yes, I still don’t get how this is even relevant to a wedding).

4. Having the nikkah at the Badshahi Masjid

Attribution: [Image description: A woman is looking shocked and saying, 'Hai Bhagwan'] Via Giphy.
Attribution: [Image description: A woman is looking shocked and saying, ‘Hai Bhagwan’] Via Giphy.
Or should I say, Hai Allah?!

A look at the Instagram page of The Videographers would show that Badshahi Masjid has become a go-to spot for almost every other Nikkah ceremony. A trend also set by our infamous Urwa-Farhan, has made our dolled up brides in their ‘heavy kaam walay’ (heavily decorated) dresses, head to one of the most crowded districts of Old Lahore for the sake of a 5-minute ceremony.

  5. Executing amazing photoshoots

Attribution: [Image description: A man is dancing and singing 'Ho jayegi balle balle'] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: A man is dancing and singing ‘Ho jayegi balle balle’] Via Giphy
Be it 40 degrees in the UAE desert or 5 degrees in Lahore’s winter, couples are now seen getting special photoshoots done because ‘Instagram pe bhi toh pictures lagani hai. Aur candid wali bhi honi chahiye’ (The pictures also need to be on Instagram. Oh, and there should also be candid ones.) 2016 saw this at Taiwanese actor, Peter Ho’s wedding shoot in the Gobi desert.

[bctt tweet=”Instagram pe bhi toh pictures lagani hai.” username=”wearethetempest”]

6. Planning a destination function

Attribution: [Image description: A woman wearing a black a white striped shirt is saying, 'One must prepare for any event.' She then turns away and laughs.] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: A woman wearing a black a white striped shirt is saying, ‘One must prepare for any event.’ She then turns away and laughs.] Via Giphy
#AnushMunib – a hashtag that took over Instagram for 8 months in 2016 because – yes, you guessed it right – the wedding was EIGHT MONTHS LONG! What began as a Dholki in Lahore went on to become a boat cruise, dinner party and club night in Istanbul! Of course, not everyone can do that, so most desi couples head to Dubai for a mehndi or two (given its one of the cheapest and closest destinations and also because, It’s Dubai, DUH!)

7. Rocking flowers, flowers, and more flowers

Attribution: [Image description: A man pulling out flowers from behind his back and saying, 'Magic.'] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: A man pulling out flowers from behind his back and saying, ‘Magic.’] Via Giphy
From the table centerpieces to the stage setting, from the chandeliers to the wedding cake and buffet table, EVERYTHING has to be covered in flowers. 2017’s #Kissmuss and #Miraj weddings were displays of such floral extravagance that God forbid if any of their guests were allergic to flowers.

[bctt tweet=”God forbid if any of their guests were allergic to flowers.” username=”wearethetempest”]

8. Attending valimas in the daytime

Attribution: [Image description: A sun rising over mountains.] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: A sun rising over mountains.] Via Giphy
Move over late night functions! Here come daytime receptions – a surprising trend in Pakistani weddings, given our brides take at-least 4 to 6 hours to get ready, I can only imagine what time they must wake up for a function in the morning. Pakistani model, Saheefa Jabbar Khattak’s daytime shaadi saw a wave of light pink, beige and ivory outfits, a shift from generic deep blues, reds, and purples often seen before.

9. Listening to live music and in-person singers

Attribution: [Image description: A person standing on the street and singing into the back of a baseball bat.] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: A person standing on the street and singing into the back of a baseball bat.] Via Giphy
Along with the choreographed dances by the couple’s family and friends, live music has now become a part of these festivities with families calling the industry’s crème-a-la-crème to perform at their Mehndis. Coke Studio sensation, Asim Azhar, was seen performing at Zara Noor Abbas’ wedding last month, entertaining the bandwagon of A-list guests present.

10. Rocking a nude or no-makeup look

Attribution: [Image description: Ariana Grande pursing her lips and applying blush to her cheeks.] Via Giphy
Attribution: [Image description: Ariana Grande pursing her lips and applying blush to her cheeks.] Via Giphy
The recent #Virushka wedding showed that while Desi weddings were once all about the heavy layers of makeup, a lot of brides have now started opting for a nude/no make-up look.

[bctt tweet=”You now know the recipes of our big, fat Desi weddings.” username=”wearethetempest”]

For all the non-desis, you now know the recipes of our big, fat Desi weddings. You’re welcome!

Science Now + Beyond

The science behind these 7 Desi cultural traditions will blow your mind

If you were brought up in a South Asian household, you probably grew up with endless cultural traditions. While we were taught to never question the logic behind them, we can all admit that at some point or other we wondered why we were doing some of these things.

However, some of the traditions we follow have legit scientific reasoning behind them.

1. Bindi is not just for beauty
[Image Description: A girl wearing a red bindi] Via Pop Xo
The bindi or the pottu which is worn or applied on the forehead is the ultimate symbol of beauty and femininity. However, it is not a mere accessory, as it is said to be a mark of a central nerve point between the brows, also known as “Ajan Chakra.” It applies a certain pressure on the nerve point which controls and heightens concentration and focus, while also easing the body of stress and anxiety.

No wonder we’re so smart!

2. Sleeping directions
[Image Description: A gif of a sleeping girl] Via Gfycat
Superstitions involving directions could create a whole new article,  the biggest no is sleeping with your head facing the North.  I always wondered why it would even matter? Well, it turns out that the earth’s magnetic fields are directed from North to South, and sleeping against the direction disrupts the body’s harmony with the magnetic waves, which affects our blood flow and the functioning of our brain cells.

So next time, check a compass before making your bed.

3. Hands over spoons
[Image Description: Gif of a girl eating street food with her hands, and licking her fingers] Via Buddy Mantra
Say what you want about etiquette, there’s nothing more satisfying than eating with your hands.

It’s also extremely healthy. There are a certain bacteria in our fingers which when swallowed along with food, aids in digestion. Vedic scriptures explain that eating with our hands makes dining a sensory experience, and it makes you more conscious of the taste. Also contrary to popular belief, it’s actually more hygienic than eating with any other utensil.

4. Bangles are the ultimate energy saver
[Image Description: A woman wearing bangles] Via The Modern Vedic
Bangles are beautiful, colorful and sometimes annoying if your wrists are full of them, and your arm movements feel robotic – or maybe it’s just me and my clumsiness. However, they are not just adornments but actually, increase the blood circulation. Besides, bangles revert the electricity and energy emitted from the skin back to our own bodies.

No wonder women at weddings are so energetic and hyper.

5. Sit down, be humble
[Image Description: A girl eating Indian food] Via Gfycat
I always thought that eating while sitting down on the floor is a matter of humility. But it has a lot of scientific benefits as well. On one end, it shapes you physically, helping you maintain posture, eases your body and strengthens muscle joints. When it comes to digestion, the constant back and forth movement increase the secretion of stomach acids and the food digests faster.

In short, by the time you finish eating, it’s as if you’ve done a yoga routine.

6. Piercings are not just about earrings
[Image Descriptions: An Indian girl wearing earrings] Via Nepally
I’ve often seen westerners grumble about the practice of piercing the ear of brown babies’ ears. The dangling earrings aside, ear piercings have other usages behind them. Susruta, an Indian surgeon, advocates ear-piercing by saying that it prevents diseases, regulates the menstrual cycle in girls and prevents hysteria. In addition, wearing earrings maintains the flow of current in the human body.

And of course, what’s more gorgeous than a jhumka?

7. The magic of mehendi
[Image Description: A woman is applying mehendi on a bride’s hands] Via Tumblr
To an outsider, mehendi or henna is just beautiful. You’ll only know how amazing it is when you have had it applied on your hands. Man, that smell and the cooling feel is a sensation to be experienced. The whole custom of applying mehendi to brides started because of its cooling effect, its ability to calm nerves and anxiety. Because who else would be more nervous than a desi bride at her wedding?

Yes, we South Asians are rooted in culture and tradition, but our ancient desi humans were obviously extremely smart. We seem to do everything by science and the above traditions are just a few examples. The next time someone finds our traditions funny or weird, you know what to say – it’s a shame that our superior scientific knowledge is years ahead of the rest of the world.

Fashion Lookbook

10 tips on how to Desi-fy your outfit and stand out from the crowd

I absolutely love wearing clothes and accessories from my Pakistani culture, although this wasn’t always the case.

When I was around six years old I went to the movie theater in Pakistani wedding clothes, not caring what anyone thought of me.  But when I moved from Southern California to Lahore, Pakistan in sixth grade, I was surprised to learn one thing: wearing Desi clothes was not considered very cool. How could it be that in general, people enjoyed wearing Western clothes more than the traditional clothes from their own country?

[bctt tweet=”I was surprised to learn one thing:  Desi clothes weren’t considered very cool.” username=”wearethetempest”]

For four years, while living in Lahore, I started feeling like I should also conform to how girls in my school would dress (outside of school when we didn’t have to wear our uniform). My mother encouraged me to wear the beautiful kurtas and shalwar kameez’s that we picked out together, but I felt like I would look peindoo or like a FOB. During those years I was still trying to form my identity and being accepted by my peers was very important to me.

However, when I moved back to America, in tenth grade, I started to notice how people actually really appreciated the colorfulness and uniqueness of my Desi clothes. It was not long before I began to embrace my attire and now I confidently and happily try to Desi-fy my outfits whenever I get the chance. I realize that everyone has their own preferences and if wearing Western clothes makes women in Lahore (or anywhere else in the world) feel happier then they should go for it.

Of course, I’ll note this: there’s a difference between owning your culture – and appropriating another’s. If you need a quick run-through, check this or this out.

1. Adding a vibrant scarf


Can’t go wrong with colorful scarves. They make any outfit pop out.

2. Throwing on some dangly earrings, hoops, or jhumkas


Time to go shopping!

3. Wearing silver or gold bangles


Feeling too lazy to dress up for a lunch or dinner? Boom! Pop these on and it’ll look like you put some effort into it.

4. Investing in dhoti-style baggy pants


They can be mixed and matched with so many different tops and are super comfortable.

5. Adding a paranda to your hair (if it’s long enough)

It’s actually really fun wearing one because you rarely ever see anyone else with it. If it’s too much for you, simply adding a braid or two will give you a similar look.

6. Replacing your flip flops with some khussas


If you don’t own a pair, any other traditional-looking sandals can work too. It’s a small change, which makes a big difference!

7. Putting some kajal (kohl eyeliner) to your lower eyelash line


I prefer black kajal, but you can be adventurous and try other bright and bold colors. If you’re skeptical, at least try it out!

8. Accessorizing with a fun, colorful tote or purse


Even if you have a simple outfit on, the bag you choose to carry can give your outfit that final touch.

9. Wearing an anklet


It adds a Desi touch, but make sure you wear it when it’s visible!

10. Henna!


Can’t go wrong with some beautiful henna! It’ll definitely be a conversation starter.

We all have our own styles and way of dressing, but sometimes it’s fun to get creative and try something different. I may be biased, but I definitely do think my culture has some of the most authentic and beautiful clothing!

Fashion Lookbook Inequality

7 fashion trends you absolutely need to stop appropriating

This past week, both Beyoncé and Coldplay had a blast culturally appropriating Indian, Bollywood, and South Asian culture – leading to a discussion on colonialism, oppression, and Orientalism.

In honor of the critics who are doing a fine job of calling out these moguls on their orientalist ways, here are 7 things that you may not know are culturally appropriated – and if you don’t, you should stop wearing now that you do.

(If you need a quick rundown of what cultural appropriation is, check this out.)

1. Bindis

Kylie Jenner posing for a photo in 2016 with a bhindi on her forehead.
[Image Description: Kylie Jenner posing for a photo in 2016 with a bindi on her forehead.]
Bindis have very specific cultural and spiritual meanings in South Asian culture and are worn throughout various countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. In regards to married women, a simple red dot on the forehead symbolizes marriage, love, and prosperity while a black one signifies the death of the partner.

The bindi is placed between the eyebrows, the place of the sixth chakra (the seat of concealed wisdom). It also represents the third (inner) eye and functions as a reminder to Hindus of their religious obligations.

Perhaps Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner didn’t get the memo that they’re essentially stealing parts of a religious tradition in order to appear fashionably stylish?

2. Dreadlocks

[Image Description: Women with long grey dreadlocks.]
Although locs have been dated back centuries in Egypt, Africa, and India – specifically in religious contexts – in terms of modern history, they have largely been associated with the Rastafari Movement that emerged within Jamaica.

They gained huge popularity in Western culture through artists such as Bob Marley as Rasta style was culturally appropriated in the ’70s in order for fashion and beauty industries to capitalize upon.

Lost within this was the spiritual symbolism of dreadlocks – which represents the Lion of Judah and are inspired by the Nazarites within the Bible.

So yes, they’re more than just a hairstyle.

3. Native American Headdresses

[Image Description: Karlie Kloss modeling Native American-inspired outfit on Victoria’s Secret runway.]
Long-serving as the go-to for music festivals, Halloween, and, more recently, Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, the Indian headdress – also known as a war bonnet – has been culturally appropriated for decades. Many will argue “but it’s just a cute headband with feathers and stuff that the Indians wear!”

What these misinformed masses don’t know is that it has very deep political and spiritual and political implications. Worn by the American Plains Indians and specifically reserved as ceremonial regalia to be worn only by chiefs and warriors, they are the highest mark of respect for someone who has displayed immense courage and service to his tribe.

Takeaway: so unless you’re a Plains Indian who has been honored with the Indian headdress, it’s probably better for you not to look like a racist with your fancy “headband”.

4. Henna (Mehndi)

Although the history of the use of henna dye is unclear at best, there is little doubt that the art of applying henna tattoos emerged within the Indian subcontinent.

Originally used for wedding and religious festivities by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, etc., it spread to the Middle East as Arabs started applying it for the same cultural and religious reasons – thus adding an element of sacredness to it. In Pakistan, it also serves as an indication of the coming of age for a young woman. However, in Western fashion, henna and mehndi have been used as temporary tattoos to get at the beach or a music festival – with no connection to their roots.

There has been quite a debate on this hot issue. But when you slather henna all over your body with butterfly designs to make a “fashion statement” (instead of putting on henna while appreciating where it came from and what it means), it definitely is cultural appropriation.

5. The Hamsa/Evil Eye

[Image Description: Heidi Klum, Jennifer Anniston, and Madonna wearing Evil Eye necklaces.]
The Hamsa hand – also known as the Hand of Fatima or Hand of Miriam – is a symbol found frequently in the Middle East, North Africa, and western South Asia – particularly in connection to the Islamic and Jewish faiths. Together, the hand, eye, and the number five are significant factors in the Arab and Berber traditions, and they are used to ward off the evil eye – a curse believed to be cast by a jealous and dangerous glare, thus resulting in injury or misfortune. Furthermore, the five fingers are said to represent the Five Pillars of Islam.

Today, the Hamsa is a widely popular charm that takes its form in jewelry, key chains, wall hangings, and other decor. However, as the Western fashion industry has taken over, the Hamsa has been appearing on various clothing, tattoos, and is worn by many who don’t know it’s significance.

Frankly, I’m not sure how much protection it’s gonna give you when someone glares at you for stealing their culture.

6. Day of the Dead

[Image Description: Woman posing in Day of the Dead face makeup.]
Although the tradition of honoring the dead has roots in various parts around the world, including Europe, the Philippines, and Latin America, the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos is continuously appropriated for fashion, Halloween, and other trends. Within this specific holiday, it is believed that the gates of heaven are opened on October 31, and the spirits of deceased loved ones reunite with their families. Those living prepare elaborate festivities, altars, gifts, and foodstuffs to share with their loved ones. Specific aspects, such as sugar skulls (the Calavera) and decor, have gained more popularity the past few years.

As one Mexican advocate has explicitly written, the tradition seems to be going through a “Cinco-de-Mayo-ization… in which white hipsters wear calaca face paint, stand amongst broken marigolds listening to white bands, and drink gentrified, holiday-themed micro-brews, without so much as a thought to what the true tradition is or means.”

Random fact: Disney even TRIED TO TRADEMARK DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, and they failed. Just like every other culture-stealing, sugar skull touting colonist does.

7. The Keffiyeh

[Image Description: Man wearing a keffiyeh scarf.]
The keffiyeh – or kufiya – is a traditional Middle Eastern scarf often used as a headdress – and has been used as such for over a century. Although it is Syrian in origin, the keffiyeh has a long history as a political and national symbol. In the 30’s, as the Arab revolt against the British Mandate and Zionist organizations in Palestine gained momentum, the keffiyeh became a resistance symbol to be worn in solidarity. By the 60’s, it was a clear symbol for the national movement of Palestine, made especially political due to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Over the years, Arab countries incorporated the keffiyeh as a significant symbol in many different ways. Since the 80’s, the keffiyeh has emerged and reemerged in Western fashion – most recently sold by retailers such as Top Shop and Urban Outfitters – and continuously bought by many who think it’s just a “chic” piece of clothing.

Sidenote: I wonder how many Islamophobes are rocking the keffiyeh with no idea about what it means… heh heh heh…

Remember, the next time you decide to wear one of these items, ask yourself this question: are you part of the culture? No? Then it’s best to step away and admire from afar.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Beauty Lookbook Weddings

20 beautifully intricate henna designs that’ll blow your mind

Ever since I was little, I’ve spent every holiday and wedding season sitting at the kitchen table, getting my henna done by my mother. She would cover my hands and wrists with flowers, paisley drops, and other mandala-like designs. The stuff stinks, but there’s a kind of comfort associated with the memories of it too.

The practice of using organic dye to decorate the skin is most popular in the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Large flowers are more indicative of an Arab artist, while Indian and Pakistani artists incorporate smaller, geometric designs and typically cover more area.

We’ve all experienced the struggles involved with getting henna done. Picking a design and carving out a few hours is honestly half the battle. And once you’ve found someone willing to sit down with you, mustering the patience to sit still as the henna tip tickles your skin is the second battle. Not to mention the arduous wait for the paste to dry and subsequently flake off.

Honestly, though, these designs are so incredibly gorgeous, they’ll make you want to hit up your local henna artist ASAP and cover your entire arms in henna too, struggles and all.

1. With detail like this, you can’t go wrong

@almasbridalhenna / Via

2. Finger-to-elbow perfection

@mpsinghphotography / Via

3. Is it just me or does this look painted on with SILK!?

@allthingshenna_  / Via

4. Symmetry is SO aesthetic

@kamsmehndi  / Via

5. Delicate. Defined. Dreamy.

@atlantahennastudio / Via

6. Red nails complete this look!

@hennabydivya  / Via

7. You DO NOT want to smudge this!

@tanuusmani_henna   / Via

8. Spot the bride and groom

@hussainmaaz  / Via

9. Henna: the ultimate princess accessory

@amansmehndi / Via

10. Okay, but like, is this real life!?

@henna_by_taj / Via

11. Henna like this does not happen in an hour

@hussainmaaz / Via

12. *mesmerized*

@zubhahenna / Via

13. I could stare at this forever

@neha_beauty90 / Via

14. You can’t go wrong with a classic

@zoipetrosyan / Via

15. Absolutely geometrical. Count. Me. IN!

@bysoor  / Via

16. Wow

@leedsmehndi / Via

17. Decadently dramatic

@shaadiwish / Via

18. I love those city skyline details!

@minal_beauty / Via

19. There’s nothing Victorian about these lace gloves…

@sarashenna / Via

20. Ah, wedding bliss!

@wedmewell / Via

Are you just as blown away by these as I am?

Gender & Identity Life

7 pieces of hard evidence that cultural appropriation is absolutely real

Sometimes I forget that this is only an exaggeration of the generic white person who rocks “forehead stickers” and strikes a Thai greeting pose in their newest picture from Japan, and mix it up with reality.

But really, who could blame me? If another wispy white girl wearing a dream catcher necklace tells me they’re part Native American, I’m going to personally time travel back to the 15th century to eradicate every single colonizing ancestor they ever could’ve had. I’m sure that, somehow, fate would still construct another version of them wearing lolita and whitewashing .gifs of Kpop idols just to peeve me.

Appropriation is a real problem, often leading to “edgy” and “alternative” new trends that have been taken from a culture and redistributed out of context for Westerners.

Here are some more “fads” that white people have co-opted. Here lie testaments to our patience:



A practice almost synonymous with “healthy living” movements and blonde girls toting Om symbols, “yoga” actually originated in ancient India. Even though, in a modern context, a lot of us are quick to envision juicing and blow up rubber balls, “yoga” means more than for exercise. It’s deeply rooted in spirituality as a means towards controlling or expanding both the mind and body, with a multitude of interpretations leading to different schools with different goals.

What we tout around as beneficial for building limber muscles is actually asana, a series of postures to prepare the body for meditation. It’s simply one aspect of a religion that contains various interconnected concepts and practices and has been taken completely out of context and even misnomered. People who do acknowledge its religious roots also tend to carry out their practices in worrisome ways, acting as if actual Hindus, Buddhists, and beyond don’t actually practice these values in this day and age. No matter how you view it, our modern conception of yoga is almost exactly appropriation. Westerners took something out of context (worsened by the fact that the practice in itself was a piece of a community’s entire religion) then declared it “exotic” and diluted it down for ease of consumption. A lot of the modern health movement relies on plain racism, from the stealing of daal as a health food to “chai tea.” (I absolutely LOVE “tea tea,” too.)

Dreads & Braids


Must I even say it? Most hairstyles specific to Black communities are also specific to Black hair types. This concept manifests most prominently in the occurrence of natural dreads and braids–commonly, box braids–as a means of protection for Black hair. The process of growing locs is radically different for Black hair types and other hair types, with the difference, most-pointed out being that Black individuals still shower pretty regularly even with locs while someone with European hair (for example) generally have to keep unwashed hair. Even if these reasons weren’t valid, there’s still all the history surrounding Black hair as well as circumstances specific to those with natural hair.

In America, and a majority of the Western world as well, little Black kids are instructed to cut or relax their hair or risk their education. Black workers are told that their hairstyle is unprofessional and risk stable jobs and negative perceptions all because of the natural state of their hair.

When White people try to co-opt styles so deeply entrenched with struggle, I can’t help but feel that it’s such an intensely ignorant act. A White person growing dreads is “edgy” and “alternative” while Black people with natural hair are “probably weed dealers.”

Eastern Religions (Also, White Jesus)


Alright, if there’s one thing I can credit white people with, it’s religion. I’m certainly not here to criticize people for their beliefs, but some people who are looking towards “mystical” Eastern religions just absolutely offend me. I understand that some Western practitioners are very dedicated to learning about the religion they choose to follow, and I have endless respect for that.

But I can’t respect people who claim Eastern and other ancient or indigenous religions are somehow more “wise.” I often find that these people forget that real people in a modern era practice these religions and that the key to a lot of these religions are applying them to your real life. It sometimes almost feels like a white savior story, where a white person stumbles upon some ancient “secret” that makes them part of an exclusive club.

It definitely exotifies these religions, and I think the first step towards being respectful is asking yourself, “Why?” Why do I believe this particular religion is a certain way? Am I practicing this religion just so that I can differentiate myself from white peers?

The list could go on and on, but I don’t believe that I should be one to police religion unless someone goes about practicing it in very appropriative ways.

Another way appropriation manifests is through icons and tokenism. The typical hipster aesthetic includes Om symbols strung on chokers, Buddha statues, Shiva posters, and yin yang symbols plastered wherever there’s space for one. I see these icons so often in my daily life now that I don’t even consider their significance and context. We live in a world where Westerners have taken important religious concepts and turned them into easily mass produced iconography. We live in a world where “karma” is a slang word for retribution for evil deeds, instead of it’s much more complicated place in the reincarnation belief systems of Hinduism and Buddhism.

In our modern day society, even Jesus is whitewashed. Jesus was a Jew, and likely dark or olive-skinned according to his origin. The whitewashing of Jesus is just another juxtaposition of double standards. Jesus must be White because Jesus is good and pure.

A darker Jesus is absolutely reprehensible, right? Jesus isn’t supposed to almost fit our nation’s idea of a terrorist, right? A Jewish, darker-skinned and curly haired Jesus is only good history and good theology. Westerners couldn’t even popularize one of the world’s most popular religions right, much less the concepts in Hinduism or Buddhism.

Rock & Roll


The first time I heard the history of Rock and Roll, it was during a Speech competition. It started at Chuck Berry and ended with descriptions of Metal and Punk genres, and I went happily on my way (probably with Lou Reed crooning “Heroin” into my ears).

Imagine my surprise when I find out that rock and roll is an offshoot of jazz, and that Rosetta Tharpe was doing it before anyone else.



I’ll admit it – I was one of those kids super obsessed with being Japanese. It’s a stain on my otherwise decent record, and I can’t believe fully grown people are still acting the way I did in 2008. It’s spawned a complete culture of weaboos, koreaboos, and chinaboos. There’s little to no reality at all concerning the origin of anime, and everyone and their cousin twice removed wants to move to Japan.

The cultural climate of Japan actually looks down on “otakus” and is deeply xenophobic. Left and right, people are co-opting Asian makeup trends and trying to one up Asian fashion gurus and idols. I see artists and cosplayers claiming anime characters with Japanese names, and who live in Japan, are racially ambiguous. Everything reeks of orientalist views and I have to wonder why I even have to tolerate White girls putting candles in onigiri as substitutions for birthday cakes.

If I knew that the sexualization of Asian women was gonna get popular then I would’ve held onto my qipao. Hell, I should’ve held onto all my Sailor Moon merchandise.



The most horrifying story I’ve heard comes from a close friend of mine, whose elementary school teacher tried to force her to scrub her mehndi off and even resorted to nail polish remover. If you’re invited into a culture, it’s one thing, but I’m so weary of young teens in Aztec print sporting Knott’s Berry Farm street-stall henna tramp stamps.

I feel that they don’t get the same stares or receive the same implications that a desi person would. If a desi person sports something from their own culture then they’re a fob, but if a white person decided to co-opt it then they’re “worldly” and “adventurous”?

Get outta here.

Big Lips & Lip Liner


I’ll be honest, everyone, I didn’t even know the Kardashians were white until thought pieces started to crop up about Kylie Jenner’s appropriation of dreads and thick lips. While white people can be born with thick lips, it’s more common that a black or Latinx person is born with them. People born with thick lips often face teasing and snide remarks about them, and they follow a person all throughout their life. You can trace the idea of thick lips being “ridiculous” all the way back to minstrel shows, where the use of blackface exaggerated big lips.

I’m not quite sure why white people want to be dangerously close to recreating minstrel shows in a modern context, but it’s happening.

After years of torment for chola fashion and culture, we have people overlining their lips left and right in order to stay “trendy.” Do they get an apology, even recognition? No. To start with, people aren’t even willing to own up to the more blatant offense towards the black community.

On the other hand, almost all people of color are stuck performing whiteness in order to stay alive and succeed.

Bring me to church on Sundays and teach me to talk back to my parents, because I wish I could just be another “adventurous” white teen.