Episode 07:

Zinnia Kumar

Zinnia Kumar is anything but unseen, but would that have been the case had she not fought so hard on so many fronts? An ecologist, activist, writer, and model, this Australian multihyphenate shares her unique journey to claiming an undeniable presence. In this episode, she discusses with Christopher Michael the stereotypes that have trapped South Asians—especially women—ultimately shaping how they see themselves. More than anything, these discriminating notions are related to consumer psychology and the images sold by the beauty, fashion, and media industries. She details some  drivers of bias and unequal representation and highlights the blinding privilege of those in positions to affect change. Zinnia calls out stubborn systemic barriers and, as an optimist, offers thoughts on actionable steps toward creating a multicultural and multiethnic landscape. Her vision is one of representation of the full spectrum of human colors, shapes, and features—not as an act of tokenism—but as a reflection of our current global reality. As both a commercial face and a face for change, Zinnia profoundly understands what it means to young women everywhere to identify with visual representations. And that accurate cultural and ethnic representation is empowering and the way of the future.