[All images in this post are courtesy Neda Ahmad unless otherwise stated.]

What’s the one thing that brings things to life? Color. There are so many shades of a given color, quite similar to the many women in our lives. So, what better way to help represent empowering women than putting them in a shade that best represents who they are?

The #ColorMeEmpowered campaign is a concept in which we chose to highlight the many colors of a woman and celebrate all the different qualities she exudes on a day-to-day basis. Each color represents a quality that helps us appreciate the powerful and influential women in our lives, going hand in hand with the idea of striving to celebrate the achievements of women in history as well as the ones who are killing it in their everyday lives, today, in the present.

The shoot represents the idea that we don’t have to look far to recognize strong women, we all ARE them, and HAVE them in our lives—we’re multifaceted, strong-willed, and embody characteristics like resilience, passion, freedom, independence, love, passion, etc.

Six amazing women got together to work on the concept that brings forward their passions, reasons for empowerment, and their journey to self-love and recognition. These women are the true embodiment of the color that they resonate with the most, and here’s why.

Amrita Kumar-Ratta

#ColorMeEmpowered

Orange is the color of strength, determination, and success; these psychosocial characteristics resonated with me because I feel like I embody them regularly—at least I try to.

For instance, I am always striving to be the strongest ‘me’ that I can be, whether that’s emotionally, psychologically, or even physically. Of course, it’s not always easy, and I’m not always strong, but inner strength is something I’m constantly trying to cultivate.

Similarly, my friends and family describe me as being fearlessly ambitious and determined, and I really am. Whatever I’ve done in my life—whether it was dance, theatre, research, or community development work—I’ve done it with relentless perseverance. Having been raised by parents who are both spirited artists, intellectuals, and community leaders, I’ve got an eclectic mixture of creative curiosity, passionate pursuit and unabashed pragmatism that frames my ambitious and determined nature.

Last but not least, I find success to be a strange word; its definition is very subjective. I think I’m still trying to figure out what exactly it means for me. Right now, it’s about being happy with the way my life is in the current moment. In other words, I feel successful because I’m doing everything that I want to be doing right now. Also, it’s worth saying that orange is a really bright and bold color, and I’m always trying to live as brightly and boldly as I can.

Something that empowers me is the incredible feeling that I have value—that I have an important contribution to make in my community(ies), and that the impact of my contributions will last long enough for the generation after me to feel it.  It sounds lofty, but there are moments in my life during which I’m reminded, either directly or indirectly, of the impact that I’m making on people, on circumstances, on discourses, and on systems, and this feeling is what keeps me going, despite how difficult it is sometimes. – Amrita Kumar-Ratta

Nehal Mehra

#ColorMeEmpowered

When we were choosing our colors for this shoot, I was immediately drawn to red. It’s vibrant, powerful and has a presence. A few years ago, you wouldn’t dare catch me in this color. But now, all I want to do is wear red every day.

I have a strong resonance with what the color represents passion, power, determination, and love. I carry my heart on my sleeve—in relationships, in work and basically in every aspect of my life. Therefore, everything I do is done with love and dedication; it’s done with passion. I’m wholeheartedly invested with nothing less than my all to give.

My life has consisted of twist and turns, many peaks, but far more valleys. Despite it all, one thing that has kept me going is my resilience and determination; resilience to toughen up and determination to never give up.

As I’ve navigated deeper into life, everything has begun to take on a persona and a deeper meaning, even colors. Just like my choice of red which was an intuitive pick, but more of an accurate reflection of my personality and values.

With that same token, one thing that empowers me to keep moving forward is love. I think there is great power when you are loved, appreciated or cared for. It evokes a sense of purpose and belonging. And when these emotions are present in your life, everything you do becomes exciting, worthy and achievable. – Nehal Mehra

Sundeep Hans

#ColorMeEmpowered

Purple is the color we’ve come to associate with creativity, pride, ambition, royalty, spirituality, and both mystery and magic! I think, because of this, it represents power too. Not the raw power that the color red evokes, but instead the kind of power that encompasses all of the temporal and eternal parts of us. All of the truly awesome things that make us…us, even the parts we haven’t discovered yet. All of this…and because I look BOMB wearing it, are reasons I chose to shoot in purple! It’s quite clearly my color!

The fact that I have goals empowers me. Big ones, little ones, fun ones, practical ones, which all feed into my ginormous life goal, my life’s purpose actually. I have a daily goal: to make at least three people smile. It’s a simple one, but super effective as an empowerment boost because I’ve successfully surpassed my goal of three people every single day since I started doing it back when I was 11 years old!

I’ve built in a fail-safe. The first person I make smile is myself, I literally look at myself and smile, and I think it makes me happy and sets the tone for the rest of the day. Knowing what my life’s purpose is has been empowering in and of itself, but then working toward it every day by accomplishing these smaller goals, and actually seeing it become a reality, makes me feel so incredibly powerful every day. – Sundeep Hans

Jessie Brar

#ColorMeEmpowered

I’ve always been so drawn to yellow. For me, it represents positivity and happiness. Whenever I’m feeling a little low, I throw on a yellow sweater and it brightens my mood. It’s a color that energizes me and never fails to put a smile on my face.

One thing that empowers me is owning my space. For a long time, I would make myself small to accommodate others and because I felt like my presence was too loud—and maybe it is, but I’m owning it. I am empowered by being confident in myself and being unapologetically me. It’s taken a long time for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, but damn, does it feel good. – Jessie Brar

Manya Sibal

#ColorMeEmpowered
[Photo courtesy Nanae Nishimura]

Black portrays elegance and class, and I think that elegance is eternal and timeless. It goes beyond physical attributes and isn’t something that can be imitated or bought. Only you can own your elegance and portray a sense of class with your own style.

Black also represents power. My power comes from my emotions of empathy and love. This is what sets you apart; this is what sets ME apart. The color black helps me channel my inner strength, portray my elegance, and leaves me feeling as empowered as ever. – Manya Sibal

Sandeep Panesar

#ColorMeEmpowered

I chose the color blue because it represents everything I gained as a result of everything I’ve lost. I’ve lost a lot of battles in my life—personal, mental, professional, but each loss encouraged me to get back up and try harder, awakening this confidence inside me that I never had growing up.

My body shape, curly hair, and introverted personality were once the butt of many jokes when I was younger—I guess a lioness’ mane and curves made for a funny combination? But, as an adult, I let all my inhibitions go, embracing who I am, and finding freedom—from my dark thoughts, the standards that others imposed on me, and the shackles of my own stipulations. It’s a work in progress, but today I feel (a lot more) free.

And, being confident and (finally) free of so many things means I’m living life on my own terms now—no preconceived notions, no ifs and buts, and no ‘what will they think of me?’

These (somewhat) newfound feelings of confidence and freedom prove that I’m finally loyal to myself and my feelings. And knowing I can be true to myself gives me such a sense of agency because there were days that I wasn’t who I wanted to be but I had convinced myself otherwise.

So, what happens when I put these little life lessons together? I feel empowered. I am finally on the road to becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be and the journey there is making me feel more powerful than ever. – Sandeep Panesar

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