Battling depression, self-doubt to winning the world with her quirky YouTube videos, the name Superwoman has come to become synonymous with inspiration.
by Aisiri Amin
There are times when you feel like you are falling into a limbo. Falling with no end; just falling. It’s scary but more than anything, it’s exhausting. That’s a tiny glimpse of how depression can bind you without chains. Superwoman, also known as Lilly Singh, found herself in that limbo a few years ago. But she decided to fight it, stand up for a round two and today she is one of the most popular YouTubers with more than 12 million subscribers.
Born and brought up in Canada with roots in India, Lilly grew up imagining herself to be Superwoman because she felt like the name gave her strength. “Pretending there was an ‘S’ on my chest really helped me through a lot of hard times in my life,” she says in a YouTube video.
After about a year long fight with depression in her early twenties, Lilly who was then finishing her Bachelor’s in psychology, decided that enough was enough. The idea of what she wanted to be was blurry but now she knew what she didn’t want to be: the person curled up on her bed, hiding from the world, hiding from herself.
Singh started making YouTube videos. They were sarcastic, funny and most importantly, positive. And so, Lilly Singh became the much loved Superwoman.
Talking about what gave her the push to make YouTube videos, she revealed in an interview with The Hindu that while sitting on the beach during a vacation she asked herself ‘What makes you happy? What do you want to do?’
“And the answer was: ‘Entertaining people makes me really happy.’ ‘What am I doing right now that involves that? I am making YouTube videos.The second I flew back home, I started making YouTube videos,” she said.
From exaggerated but relatable mimicry of her Punjabi parents as Paramjeet and Manjeet (both played by Singh which struck a chord with the youth across the world) to the funny videos about the most hush-hush topics such as menstruation.
One of her early videos, ‘Girls on Menstruation’ went viral for the hilarious depiction and the unique way she dealt with the topic. For those who followed Singh since her early days could see her transformation from the little unsure, cautious young girl to the confident bawse, to put it in the Superwoman way. In 2016, Lilly was the highest-paid female YouTuber and earned $7.5 million.
Cutting through the stereotypes attached to a brown Indian girl, Lilly built her empire with positivity and self-love. Her campaigns such as #GirlLove which created a buzz all over the world and aimed to break the cycle of girl-on-girl hate made her a rebel among the conservatives and a role model for the teenagers.
Talking about the hurdles she faced in the journey, Singh told Flare in an interview: “I started YouTube because I didn’t see anyone else like me doing it. I was the first South Asian female to do comedy videos on YouTube. But at the same time, all races face their barriers and I’ve learned through YouTube, if it’s not race, it will be sexism, if it’s not sexism, it will be homophobia. It will always be something and all voices should be heard.”
Singh often uses her YouTube videos to stand up against sexism, racism, and homophobia. Singh has been targeted by internet trolls quite often and the male chauvinist comments on the lines of “Go make a sandwich” popped up little too often which inspired her to make a sarcastic video titled “How to Make a Sandwich” a comeback in which she uses the ingredients to subtly slap down the sexist comments.
“Please note that I am using fresh ingredients to make up for your expired thought process,” Singh says in the video. The video went viral within hours of uploading it.
If there is one thing that you can learn from Singh is how to win in life. She works round the clock, even though she has enough money to laze around all her life because Singh believes in outdoing yourself.
You are in competition with the world, so don’t put yourself down. Bring yourself up instead. Try talking to yourself the way you talk to your best friend. Singh was an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams and she made sure they came true. So, get up because you too are just getting started.
Aisiri Amin (she/her) is an independent journalist specializing in gender, culture, and social justice. She is a struggling optimist, trying to understand the world through cinema, books, and travel.