Having been named ‘The Influencer of the Year’ not once, not twice, but *thrice* by household names Vogue, Elle, and Inflow, Diipa Büller Khosla boasts a huge following of 1.2 million followers on Instagram, not to mention being on the cover of 16 magazines. However, for those that believe all it takes are a few stylish shots to receive such accolades – don’t be fooled. Under the exterior of exquisite style, stands a founder who puts “social change” back into the role of “influencer”. Using her personal account @diipakhosla as well as her nonprofit organisation “Post For Change”, which was founded in 2019 with her husband, she not only campaigns for women’s rights and the end of colourism, but also addresses misogyny in Bollywood culture, and dismantles taboos surrounding menstruation in India.
Diipa admits 2020 was a “whirlwind of confusion and changes that we all had to adapt to”, yet believes “2021 is the year to prove the adaptations we’ve made so we can continue with our ‘normal life’ to the best of our abilities.”
Keep reading for Diipa’s latest insights into motherhood, growing up in multiple cultures and its effect on her understanding of “home”, as well as her advice to influencers for creating an impact in the wider community!
Diipa’s current routine consists of preparations for the arrival of her new baby and juggling various upcoming projects. “I’ve been doing well, my first trimester had its ups and downs, having had really bad morning sickness and fatigue. However, I believe I’ve moved past the ‘uncomfortable’ stages of the journey. As of now, we’re just getting everything ready for when we finally meet our baby. My routine hasn’t had any drastic adjustments per se; however, I’ve started getting more into eating breakfast meals, whereas before I’d just have a quick snack and of course coffee. My day is usually filled with meetings after meetings as well as planning upcoming projects and photoshoots. My day usually winds down at 5 p.m., which is when I get to have some down-time with Oleg and our dogs, watch movies, read, and spend time just chilling.”
When asked what she is most excited for in terms of becoming a mother, she declares: “As mothers, we nurture this beautiful creation in our womb for 9 months, so getting the chance to meet them is so precious in my eyes. Moreover, the excitement of seeing what they’ll be like and grow up to become.” It is, therefore, no surprise that when we asked Diipa to pick her favourite artwork from The Connoisseur, she chose a painting by Sachin Akalekar. To Diipa, the artwork “visualises the bond between mother and daughter. I love how their clothing shows a faded image of their lives, as it reminds me of all the memories of India that we both share.”
On Her International Upbringing
Born in New Delhi, Diipa’s upbringing was full of change, diverse experiences, and encounters with a multitude of disparate cultures. Reflecting on her international upbringing, she says: “My siblings and I went to an international school in India, so we were already surrounded by a diverse group of classmates and friends.” Boarding school was not only the place where she learned English, but also where she was exposed to a diverse range of cultures. “My favourite thing about boarding school was having the opportunity to make so many international friends, allowing me to feel more ‘international’ myself and just gaining knowledge in terms of different perspectives.”
Whilst for many, the prospects of moving to a new country, starting a new life, and leaving family behind at a young age, are daunting, Diipa’s believes her move to Amsterdam cemented who she is today. Of course, she admits experiencing a sense of “culture shock” was inevitable, especially when moving between two vastly different countries each with their strong traditions. Yet it was during her time in Holland that she began to learn more about herself. “Holland, being more liberal, allowed me to become more independent and experience new things for myself, whereas India traditionally follows a more conservative lifestyle. I believe both cultures are embedded within me and have led me to become who I am to this day.” As opposed to being a source of confusion, Diipa has found her global experiences pivotal in finding her authentic self. “One thing I am extremely grateful for is having had the opportunity to live in and travel to so many locations. It really helped grow my cultural awareness, which gave me insight into different points-of-views, allowing me to become more relatable to people worldwide. In addition to having a strong following in India, my audience and community are also strong in the US and the UK; out of these followers, many are second or third generation Desi individuals as we’re all trying to consolidate our new identities within our cultures and traditions.” Her ability to therefore remain “authentic” and navigate the complexities of having a “real vs perfect lifestyle” on social media, is crucial. “Respecting the cultures I am exposed to every day whilst still appreciating my Indian roots is of pivotal importance to me.”
“I believe a person’s style is a representation of their personality, so I believe my style stayed fixed regardless of my destination while taking current trends at the time into consideration.”
Perhaps the most daunting, unanswerable, and confusing question you could ask a third culture individual is where and what “home” is. Diipa admits that when she was younger, she could only envision India as home. “However, after moving and growing older, I realised that home is wherever my family is. I believe it’s the people whom you love that makes a ‘home.’” Picking a favourite between India, Holland, and the UK is thus an impossible matter. “They all carry an equal place in my heart as they have offered so much to me in different stages of my life. I have so much respect for each country where I experienced my firsts, opportunities, learning experiences, and the chance to make valuable relationships. India will always be my home and background, as its culture is deeply enrooted in me. However, Holland and the UK have become my home as it’s where my family and passion lie.”
On Using Her Platform for Social Change
Diipa was inspired and equipped with the tools for creating a social impact when studying for a bachelor’s degree in law at university in Amsterdam. “My favourite memory from my university days was getting to study something that I believed would let me help people. I learnt so much about international law and international human rights, which led me to what I wanted to do today, which is to have a global reach and influence people in positive ways.”
Indeed, alongside her main account, she runs “Post for Change”, created “with the aspirations of giving importance to issues that should rightfully be broadcasted. Our mission is to harness the power of human engagement online and create an effective and visible impact in promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development goal of Gender Equality as well as the advancement of women’s rights.” From dismantling misogynistic ideas upheld by the Bollywood industry, breaking the social stigma surrounding female menstruation, and calling for justice for survivors of violence, Diipa ensures her platforms are doing things bigger than herself.
Her campaigns are also rooted in personal truths. Opening up to her audiences on Instagram, she admits: “Growing up I have felt bad […] for the skin tone I was born in due to the media, due to magazines, what aunties and uncles would say. I felt the need to bleach my skin. I have personally used myself ‘Fair and Lovely’ and countless whitening products just so I could be a lighter shade. Today, I look back at younger me shocked that I would ever do that and so this campaign is for all of us. For every single girl who has had to feel bad for the skin that they were born in.” She questions why there ever was a “demand in the first place” for such whitening products, asking “why do we want to be whiter and where does that come from?”
Instead, she argues we must “tackle it with media, tackle it with Bollywood where beauty standards are made” linking a petition on Post for Change to end colourism and any standards that herald lighter skin.
Having overcome her own obstacles when entering the beauty and fashion industry due to a lack of Indian representation, she now celebrates the progress achieved in recent years. “Not only are there thriving influencers, but also Desi-owned small businesses that have serious potential.” Keen to develop the growing community, she has started the #Dessiinfluencer in the hopes of creating “something revolutionary” where “everyone can showcase their talents.”
Her advice to influencers using their platform for social change?
“ Be authentic and fight for matters you truly believe in and feel passionate about helping with. Something I’ve learnt is that if you truly believe in your fight, you have the power to inspire others to realize and make changes. ”
Image Courtesy: Diipa Büller Khosla
Interview organised & conducted By: Joori Byun