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Diet Paratha’s Anita Chhiba is Changing the Lens for South Asian Creatives

If you initially misread “Diet Paratha” as “Diet Prada,” you’re not alone. The play on words may be a wink and nod to the fashion watchdog, but the similarities end there. Named after the flaky, golden flatbread, the cleverly named community platform on Instagram champions South Asian talent in the creative fields. “Diet Paratha is more about celebrating and less about cancel culture,” says founder Anita Chhiba, under whom the community has grown more than 12,000 followers strong since its inception in 2017.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Chhiba—who has a background in advertising—moved to London, England, three years ago. She began sharing photos of vintage Bollywood posters on Instagram. “It was around the time of the Reclaim the Bindi movement,” she recalls. “I started seeing lots of South Asian people being really proud of who they were and speaking out about racial injustices.” Chhiba also started sharing South Asian illustrators and discovering a wave of overlooked talent, which eventually evolved into present-day Diet Paratha. “It turned into this beautiful hub of creative South Asian excellence.”

The real growth came during the pandemic, when Chhiba began investing more time in curating the page. She also noticed that people from well-known luxury brands in the fashion world were following the account and paying attention to the feed.

Today, Diet Paratha celebrates South Asians working in music, activism, fashion, and photography. Chhiba also wants to actively move beyond cultural stereotypes of South Asians in the media, showcasing individuals who operate inside spaces traditionally closed off to them and excel at it. “It’s the representation we so desperately needed, but with no cultural ties to it,” explains Chhiba. “We don’t need to be singing and dancing our culture. Being brown is enough.”

Diet Paratha has become a place of discovery for others by highlighting South Asian creatives making ripples in their respective industries. “There are so many different people who are hugely talented. I want to give them a little springboard to jump off of,” says Chhiba.

Photographed by Shaye Laree. Model and styled by Diet Paratha’s Anita Chhiba. Makeup by Libby McLeod.

With an eye for spotting talent, Chhiba has a few favourites of her own: she’s a huge fan of Cartel Madras, a rap duo from Calgary, Alberta (“They’re two sisters who’re just killing it”); Ashley Radjarame, a Paris-based South Asian model working with brands like Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Paco Rabanne; Richie Shazam, a New York-based non-binary model and photographer (“Seeing these massive brands platform Shazam is just magical to me”); and Shaneel Lal, a Fiji-born queer activist in New Zealand of Indian and Indigenous descent, who is campaigning against conversion therapy (“They’re saying things that other people aren’t saying and putting their life on the line in ways others aren’t”).

Chhiba’s own goals for Diet Paratha are ambitious and go beyond the social media platform. Part of her mission is to connect the global South Asian community through events. Having received so much love and support from other South Asians in her own career, she wants to pay it forward by doing the same.

In the meantime, Diet Paratha’s upcoming collaborations are just a taste of what’s to come. Chhiba was recently tapped by a major luxury brand for a project, and there are other exciting brand partnerships in the works, all of which remain under wraps for now. “It’s about events, amplifying the message for the people and getting as many individuals as possible in the community involved. That’s what the future of Diet Paratha looks like.”