THE SEVENTH INSTALLATION IN THE BELLEBOSS SERIES!
I hope that with this series, I would find a way to appreciate the incredible South Asian women of our generation, who are breaking boundaries and paving new paths for themselves. Moreover, I would like other people to take a little bit of their time to realize how incredible the women around you are. Especially if you are a woman! I hope that at least one woman’s story in my #BelleBoss series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart. Even if that means breaking a few rules and many societal prejudices along the way.
Could you give us some background information about yourself?
My name is Akshita Uppot. I’m 21 and I’m currently a student at McMaster University. (getting a bachelor of science in kinesiology) but I also work at Sephora. I’m south Indian (Malayalee) born in Gujarat, India. I moved to Canada when I was 5. I lived in Toronto during my elementary school years and afterwards moved to a small town an hour or so north of Toronto called Alliston where I spent my middle and high school years.
2) How did you start working at Sephora and where does your love of makeup come from?
During my first year at university I joined a dance team for the North American Culture Show and on the day of the performance, I had my makeup done by my teammates. I guess something about the way dramatic stage makeup transformed my face really caught my interest. Soon after, I started watching YouTube tutorials religiously and I started shopping more and more at Sephora.
Before I knew it, I was a VIB Rouge (It means you’ve spent more than a 1000 dollar at Sephora). Eventually, I figured I already spend so much at this store, might as well work there!
So, I mustered up the courage, walked into the store, handed in my resume and became a seasonal cast member (now a permanent member)
I’ve always been a little bit of a diva and I used to want to be an actress.
I think watching all these beautiful Bollywood actresses made me want to dress up like them and still to this day the glamorous celebrity-inspired looks are my favourite ones to create. From a very young age (like 5 years old) I’ve always been interested in beauty and fashion. I’d always be playing with my mother’s makeup.
Even at a very young age, my mother allowed me to dress how I want and wear makeup even though she’d always get snide comments from other family members.
I’m grateful for that freedom though, it allowed me to be independent and express my creativity.
But my mom never really bought me makeup. I could use what she had, and well, your makeup skills don’t get very far when all you have is eyeliner, mascara and lipstick! Only when I got my first part-time job at 15, did I start to buy high-end makeup.
What made you want to study kinesiology?
Kinesiology is the study of the human body and how exercise affects it. My courses focus on anatomy, nutrition, the psychology of exercise, athletic training, injuries and rehabilitation, and the impact exercise has as a treatment for several chronic diseases. I personally went into kinesiology because I wanted to be a doctor (an ob/gyn to be exact). Shortly after coming University,
I realised that the lifestyle of a doctor was not one that I could ever see myself leading.
My love and interest in health have not changed yet and I still aspire to have a career in a related field. Many of my courses focus on chronic diseases and this sparked my interest in public health care.
After I graduate, I’d like to pursue a Master’s in public health or health policy.
Apart from that, I’ve always said to myself that once I’m out of school I’d like to travel to at least one new country a year. So, I’d love to get cracking on that! I also plan on continuing on as a creative influencer with beauty and fashion. Hopefully start to venture out onto platforms other than Instagram, like YouTube or starting my own blog.
7) How does your culture affect your lifestyle?
Being Indian is a very important part of my identity. However, growing up in a small white town I suppressed that part of me and never really had anyone to share my culture with. But when I came to university, I was exposed to a larger South Asian community and finally started feeling more comfortable with sharing Indian culture.
A lot of my looks are Indian inspired. I think it comes from my love of Bollywood. I love the dramatic glittery, colourful makeup and all the beautiful jewellery and lenghas and saris to go with it.
8) Do you have any youtube /beauty /fashion icons?
Some of my favourite YouTubers are Deepika Mutayala and Kaushal Beauty. As far as celebrities go, I love Kim Kardashian’s style and a lot of my looks are inspired by her. I love the nudes and neutral tones in both her makeup and fashion and I love midi dresses and strappy heels. I also look to Shay Mitchell and Beyoncé for inspiration.
9) Do you have any other hobbies which pursue in your spare time?
I love to cook, I find it therapeutic and very similar to doing my makeup where I enjoy all the little steps leading up to the end result. These days, however, cooking feels more like a chore and cooking just for one person is never fun. My favourite cuisine to cook would be Indian. I also love to hike, and living in Hamilton is great for that since there are so many trails and waterfalls to see.
9) What inspired you to start sharing your makeup looks on Instagram?
Social media was how I learned how to do my makeup and as none of my peers really enjoyed makeup. So for me, it was an outlet to share my make looks and connect with other beauty lovers.
Secondly, there aren’t too many other women in media that look like me and growing up that made me question my own beauty based off of westernized beauty standards.
Even now there isn’t enough representation of coloured women especially South Asian women in the media.My Instagram account is my effort to make that change.
10) If someone wanted to get into makeup with what products do you recommend they start with?
If someone’s just starting out with makeup I’d say the first thing you need to sort out is your brows.
I personally love Anastasia Beverly Hills brow definer (It’s a brow pencil), next I’d say some mascara and concealer. My two favourite mascaras are the ‘Better Than Sex’ from Too Faced and Lash Sensational from Maybelline. For concealer, I love the Maybelline Fit Me. And lastly, I’d say you want to bring some colour back into your face with some blush or bronzer I love the Sun Bunny Bronzer from Too Faced.
11) How do you balance your work and your student life?
To be honest with you; a balance is something that I constantly struggle with and am constantly working towards perfecting.
I don’t really have an answer for that. What I can tell you is that I’ve always preferred to be busy and so I’m always happier when I have a part-time job. As much as I like learning, I don’t enjoy studying and work helps balance this out. However, there are many times when I have to prioritize one over the other and either work or school gets compromised and more often than not my personal life is almost always compromised.
Finding balance is a work in progress and I haven’t found that happy medium yet. But if there’s one little piece of advice I can give to others it’s to not compare your journey, your successes or failures to anyone else’s.
12) What has been the best advice you have been given personally or which you have learnt that you live by and why?
There are a few pieces of advice I really try to live by.
The first was something a manager once told me and she said one of the best traits you can have to go far in any career is to be self-aware. I’d like to take this further and say it is one the most important traits to go far in all aspects of life whether it’s your career, relationships or personal happiness.
It is so important to constantly reflect back on yourself and really recognize where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
You should always be asking yourself how you can grow as a person. It’s important to know how you come off to other people, how your words and actions are being received and are affecting people.
Are you communicating effectively? What kind of energy are you putting out into the world? What kind of energy are you bringing into your world?
These are all questions that I try and ask myself daily. I feel like a lot of us, myself included, like to blame others or our circumstances for things like unhappiness or failures but I think part of maturing as a person is starting to take responsibility for yourself and really committing to making the changes you want to see in your life and knowing that the power to do this lies in your very own hands.
My second piece of advice ties into my first and it’s to invest in yourself.
Invest your time money and energy into yourself. The relationship you have with yourself is the longest one you will ever have and can be the best and the most rewarding if you cherish and nourish it.
And lastly this one is especially for women; be a little selfish, love yourself unconditionally, and don’t be afraid to show it proudly. Men do this all the time and get called confident.
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