By Shelby Hall
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by really everyday things, like conversations or songs that Spotify suggested for me. I would say more consistent inspiration comes from personal memories and experiences, and from what perspective I am reflecting on them now.
What’s your sign and how do you think that plays a part in your life?
My sun sign is Capricorn, and I live up to that so painfully well, with both the admirable traits and shortcomings in my professional and personal relationships. I’m relentlessly ambitious and really hard on myself if I can’t meet my own unreasonable expectations, and that definitely shows up in how much pressure I put on others to not disappoint me. I’m incredibly stubborn, dark humoured, money savvy, love boundaries especially around emotional intimacy, take my long-term commitments really seriously, suck at asking for help, and somehow always end up as the dad friend. Just a big ol’ Capricorn cliche.
What is the main purpose of your account/brand?
@pastelpunjabi was created as a more intentional branch of my main account, @jaswinstagram, which contains more personal art and diaristic writing of my experiences and growth. Pastel Punjabi has a broader scope of content that can be applied to anyone within my audience, from an astrology lens. Anything experimental or new (podcasts, zines, themed photo shoots, meme series, visual art commissions, etc.) are housed at Pastel Punjabi and centered around both mine and different people’s astrological signs and the different zodiac seasons. My brand in general utilizes a lot of pastel colours and incorporates my identity as a queer first generation Punjabi American woman, so that’s where the name comes from.
What is something you love deeply about yourself?
I love how self-assured I am. As self critical as I can be, I don’t get discouraged or stop doing the things I love just because I’m not as outwardly successful as I would like to be yet. Inwardly, I know who I am and I’m a fan of that person, which is more meaningful than someone else being a fan of her. There is an intentional and persistent belief in myself that I have worked really hard to build and maintain. And I’m proud of myself for shaping myself into a confident and creative person who can be so resilient, despite what could’ve turned me into a cynic or a defeatist.
What’s some advice you have for other people revolving around confidence?
Affirmation from others will never be as valuable as affirmation from yourself, no matter how much you crave it and no matter how much it was missing from your life. Assigning significance to what other people think of you robs you of your own self worth. Once you do the internal work, the confidence you get externally becomes supplemental to the wonderful person you independently are.
What makes you feel confident?
Good hair days. 90’s soft rock. Maintaining direct eye contact. High waisted jeans. My best friend. Remembering how much progress I have made since being cripplingly insecure. Evenly applied eyeliner.
What have you had to overcome that’s made you who you are?
Generational trauma. Mental health struggles. Physical health struggles. Cultural and systematic oppression. Years of doubt, criticism, shaming, and threats from my own community. Those situations demand you to be better than the worst things it can put you through.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I want to say my parents because they have worked so hard for their families and their success, but there’s so much I draw the exact opposite of inspiration from when it comes to their mode of operation. I guess I’m not really inspired by anyone. It feels like everything I’m doing is being done for the first time by someone who has my background or identities, which can be isolating, but motivates me to be a good example or trailblazer of what’s possible.
What’s your beauty/fashion go-to?
I almost always colour-coordinate my eyeshadow with my outfit and always have cat-wing eyeliner, if nothing else. I’m big on eye contact, so I naturally spend the most time on that part of my face. I’m very normcore when it comes to fashion. I need something quick, neutral toned, and comfortable, which explains why any given piece I could be wearing probably also exists in the closet of a suburban dad (denim jacket, pleated high waisted trousers, sneakers, polo tee’s).
What would you say is the best thing about you?
My ability to capture really complicated or intense feelings and experiences, shared or otherwise, and turn them into comprehensive art for people to enjoy and learn from and for me to process and grow from.
What does equality mean to you?
Equality means ensuring power, privilege, access, and opportunity is spread out in a way that proportionately helps individuals and groups in getting what they need to live good, fulfilling lives.