Scientist and model Zinnia Kumar on colourism, the serious issue of skin colour stigma in South Asia and why science and spirituality can co-exist.

For episode 64 of Offline, host Alison Rice has an honest conversation with scientist, chartered ecologist and model, Zinnia Kumar

Zinnia grew up in Western Sydney in a low socio-economic area, and following some deeply impactful advice from her chemistry teacher, she applied herself within the public education system and became the first in her family to go to university. 

What was the advice? She told Zinnia that if she worked hard, she could be anything she wanted to be. Zinnia hasn’t looked back. 

An introvert who self-diagnosed and treated her own social phobia as a teenager, she now lives in London and is studying for a doctorate in colourism at Oxford University. A published scientist, Zinnia has focused her research on human attraction, examining beauty standards and ideals, and more recently, colourism — specifically the serious issue of skin colour stigma in South Asia.

Recorded in April 2020, this honest conversation is an entry point to learning more about skin colour discrimination and representation. Zinnia also opens up about modelling, the racism she experienced from Australian agencies, the potentially life-saving reading she had with a palmist, why science and spirituality can co-exist and why she chooses to practice equanimity. 

Zinnia is fascinating and she’s a woman we can learn from.

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Original music by DLakeCreates.