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bitchy | Richa Moorjani wishes there was ‘Brown representation’ in western yoga culture


Richa Moorjani is an Indian-American actress and she’s currently the cousin Kamala character in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever. Kamala is set up to be the perfect and beautiful older-sister figure who actually isn’t all that perfect. Richa is 33 years old and she spoke to Shape Magazine about her life, chronic pain and how much cultural appropriation there is around stuff which originated in India. Her comments about yoga mimic my own! Some highlights from this interview:

The pressure to “settle down” from her Indian family: “I felt a lot of pressure from — whether it was family or society — to find someone and to settle down and to get married. I know what that pressure feels like and how suffocating it can feel and confusing also because you want to do good by your parents and your family and your community, but then you also want to feel happy and feel like you’re carving out your own path.”

She goes to yoga classes: But she’s keenly aware of how the traditional Indian practice has been “distorted all over the world,” referring to the cultural appropriation of yoga in western countries. In addition to the need for “Brown representation” in marketing imagery from companies that sell yoga clothes, Moorjani says she also wishes yoga studios would make more space for people of color to teach classes. And if a studio offers classes that stray from the traditional practice (say, by playing hip-hop music), “don’t call it yoga,” she says. Instead, “call it a yoga-inspired workout,” she suggests.

Her chronic pain: “I think it’s important to talk about,” she says, remembering the rush of support she received when she first shared some of her experience with chronic pain on Instagram. “A lot of people sent me DMs with suggestions of how I could help myself, and that was kind of amazing. It was kind of like putting out a cry for help and a lot of people actually came to the rescue.”

The invisible disease: Chronic pain is an “invisible disease… I think people don’t take your issues very seriously if they can’t see it, which is hard to navigate.”

Skin care: “I can’t remember the last time I went to bed without washing my face. My mom is a huge skin-care person. The one thing that she always told me was never go to bed without washing your face, especially if you have makeup on. So, I never do.”

Low maintenance hair. “It sounds so annoying to say, but I think I’ve been blessed with really good hair. I guess one thing that I’ve always done that I think is also a cultural thing is we oil our hair…For generations we’ve always oiled our hair,” she explains. Moorjani oils her hair the morning or night before washing it, something she does sparingly. “I wash my hair every four, sometimes five days — definitely not every day — and I think that also helps to not dry it out.”

Cultural appropriation with haircare as well: While Moorjani admits she isn’t familiar with the term hair slugging that’s been popularized by TikTok users who have recently discovered the benefits of oiling hair, she has noticed the growing trend of using hair oil in general. “I’m not mad about it, I mean, if it’s good for your hair, you should do it,” she says. “Whether it’s yoga or turmeric, I think it’s just recognizing that these traditions and these rituals did come from somewhere and they did come from a culture, and I guess, recognizing that and paying homage to it.”

[From Shape]

She absolutely has a big point with how yoga has been whitewashed, appropriated and commercialized. I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow even said that she made yoga cool, and there are millions of people who view yoga as completely disconnected to its religious roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. As for haircare… Indian women are known for being blessed with great hair! I’ve never tried hair slugging or oiling my hair. Whenever I feel like my hair is getting dried out or frizzy, I just use some extra conditioner. I also couldn’t get away with only washing my hair every four or five days! I get too sweaty with my workouts.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.


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