• "When people stare at my hair on public transport or in a Woolies line, I just smile or spark up a conversation about it!" she says. (Sukhjit Khalsa)
Australian-Sikh spoken word artist Sukhjit Khalsa gives us the short on her long hair and what is means to be a 'fully Sikh' young woman. Sukhjit is 1 of 10 Aussies talking to us about issues that matter to them, via SBS 2 Facebook live video this month for #SBSUncensored.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

8 Jul 2016 - 1:33 PM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2016 - 9:05 AM

The first thing most people notice when they see Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa is her long mermaid-like hair, but to the 21-year-old spoken word artist, it's much more than a fashion trend.

Best known for her appearance on Australia's Got Talent, Sukhjit is a spoken word artist from Perth who now lives in Melbourne. 

Like many Indian-Australians, Khalsa was raised in the Sikh faith, which asks its followers to not to cut any hair on their body. However, many Sikhs living in the Western world, where body hair is deemed unattractive especially on women, balance these clashing cultures by trimming or removing their body hair, whilst letting the hair on their head grow naturally.

Sukhjit, however, lets it all grow.

Sukhjit makes up one of ten 'social influencers' set to go-live on SBS 2 Facebook this month as part of SBS Uncensored: a project where young Australians can talk openly about what issues matter to them. 

"Having a beard as a Brunswick barista is totally hipster but it certainly isn't fashionable to be a hairy brown girl who grew up in the 'burbs," she says.

"While the external is just a percentage of what makes you a Sikh, I believe it is something that is important to me and is a symbol for accepting and loving the way I was created."

Sukhjit's heritage, culture, left-leaning politics informs her poetry. Though she wrote and performed her first script when she was only six-years-old. It wasn't until 2014 that she performed for a much wider audience at the Australian Poetry Slam Competition. Now, an Australia's Got Talent veteran, she's taken to YouTube to share her lyrics to an even wider community.

To her, it's all about redefining beauty standards and making, "hairy the new sexy". Sukhjit doesn't shave or wax her legs or underarms.

"The feeling of freedom... as I go for a run and the cool breeze blows through each individual hair. I love that feeling! So no, Veet, – THIS is what beauty feels like."

"The feeling of freedom... as I go for a run and the cool breeze blows through each individual hair. I love that feeling! So no, Veet, – THIS is what beauty feels like."

Sukhjit also doesn't hide her body hair under clothing as she doesn't see a reason to. Of course this means she gets the odd look every so often from a passersby, but Sukhjit finds it inspires her work as a poet, and it's a great conversation starter.

"When people stare at my hair on public transport or in a Woolies line, I just smile or spark up a conversation about it!" she says. "I’ve been catcalled many times and it inspired my poem ‘My Hair’ which I wrote for Australia’s Got Talent semi-finals."

As a young 21-year-old, dealing with two opposing ideals of beauty can be tough. But when in doubt, Sukhjit turns to the words of her brother,

"When I was a kid my brother once told me that, 'Sukhjit, you have to make sure your personality is just so exuberant that no one honestly even pays attention to what your external looks are like because they are too busy being in awe of your internal awesomeness.'"

 

Sukhjit makes up one of ten 'social influencers' set to go-live on SBS 2 Facebook this month as part of SBS Uncensored: a project where young Australians can talk openly about what issues matter to them. 

Sukhjit was live @ 6pm, Wednesday on July 13 on SBS 2 Facebook, catch up below! Like SBS 2's facebook page to receive a notification for the next one! 

Check out the lineup and how to tune in:
SBS Uncensored: 10 young Aussies coming to you LIVE on SBS 2 Facebook
SBS Uncensored brings to you ten young Aussies from around the country to talk on what matters to them when it comes to making a better Australia. LIVE on SBS 2 Facebook this month; get in on #SBSUncensored.