Growing up an Indian Woman: Interview with Divya Amarnani Noel

Divya Amarnani Noel was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Grenada and is of East Indian descent. Her parents are from Chennai and Delhi. Her upbringing was heavily influenced by her Indian culture but she strongly identifies with her Caribbean culture as well.

Divya has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from St. George’s University in Grenada and a diploma in Makeup Artistry from the College of Make Up Art in Toronto, Canada. 

She lived in Canada for 3 years and worked at MAC cosmetics. She has been a professional freelance makeup artist for the past 12 years. She has now taken her passion for makeup and started her own business, Namaste Beauty, retailing cosmetics and skincare products. Divya also manages her parents’ retail/wholesale business which has been established and in operation since the 1970s. It is located in the heart of the city in St. George’s, Grenada.

What were the stereotypes of women in your culture growing up?

There were and still are so many stereotypes for women in my culture growing up. In retrospect, so many of them are similar to the Western train of thought. Women belong in the kitchen, women should know their place, young girls belong to their families until they’re married and should always stay within cultural boundaries. Boys had more freedom while girls suffered from double standards.

What were the roles taught to you as a girl?

Obeying your parents was a big role. We were taught that our parents knew us best, therefore, they were the ones who would make the best decisions for us. So many of us were sheltered so in a sense, this was actually true. Many of us went in negative directions because we wanted to prove we knew best, but most times those paths ended in heartache and pain.

What were the cultural expectations that existed for you as an adolescent girl?

I feel like every single cultural expectation fell only on girls. There are so many! Be home on time. Don’t go out. Don’t date anyone. Your first date has to be with someone who was chosen for you. Keep company with girls who were safe and not party goers. Pay attention in school. Earn degrees but don’t have too many aspirations. That was a general outline for so many girls I knew.

Have you observed a difference in gender roles in your culture vs. other cultures?

Again it’s the same for my culture as most others I’ve seen/experienced. Double standards. Boys can do things girls cannot. Boys were treated as a prize and girls (in my culture) are basically someone else’s prize. So we were groomed to fit into someone else’s family. We weren’t taught to be comfortable in our own skin. It also comes down to what our families were taught. I’m first generation Indian-Grenadian and my family gave me the best of what they had to offer. Unfortunately, in those times, ideologies were not progressive.

Have your views on what a woman’s role in society is, changed since you’re able to consider it on all levels at this point?

No. I’ve always, always thought women to be warriors! In my culture especially, there is so much women power at present and I am reveling in it! There is so much support for each other and everyone wants to win and see their sisters win. I am in total awe of women in my culture and I am so proud to be a part of the change in women’s roles! I am also super proud of the brothers who support us and there are so many! It’s an incredible era for us all.

Do you think there is a relationship between gender and culture?

For me, everyone should be on a level playing field and there should be no relationship between the two. Everyone’s strengths should speak for them however, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Connect with Divya on IG @ Dolliedaze and Namastey_Beauty

One response to “Growing up an Indian Woman: Interview with Divya Amarnani Noel”

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