I Was Born The Wrong Color

I Was Born The Wrong Color

Living as a white woman in a brown woman’s body.
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I am Indian, but I when I look in a mirror, I get confused. I am Indian but when I catch my reflection, I expect to see a slender, tall, white girl with subtle, light features. Instead, I see a chubby Indian girl with aggressive eyebrows, bright brown eyes and a sharp nose.

Until very recently, I didn’t understand who I was. My whole family is Indian and everyone in my family, except for me, was born in India. For my whole life, I’ve been proud of my heritage. I’ve always known that I’m Indian.

Growing up, I lived in three areas: Texas, New York and Pennsylvania. In every place, I could probably have counted on one hand the number of students in my class who weren’t white.

In school, I did my assignments to the best of my abilities, I studied as hard as I could, I was involved in extracurricular activities and I did what almost every student was doing. I worked hard in school. Everyone worked hard. But I never felt good enough. No matter how hard I tried, someone else got the opportunities I was working for. I never thought much of it. I suffered through a very serious depression during high school and I always chalked up these “missed opportunities” as not being smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, fit enough, funny enough. I always blamed and attacked myself even though I knew I was working just as hard as the hardest working students in my class.

I worked hard and I watched as many of my peers (most of them white) had opportunities presented to them. I worked hard and I watched as some of my peers were asked to participate in musical events. Peers who weren’t even in the music program. Peers who I was just as qualified and talented as, if not more so. Peers who were white. Peers who fit the standard of beauty more than I did.

Looks matter. Looks matter and if you say otherwise, you’re lying to yourself.

At the beginning of this year, I started hanging up pictures of me and my friends when I realized that all but two of my very close friends are white. But that is to be expected because I’ve spent the majority of my life so far in a small, upper-middle class, conservative, white town. I grew up thinking that Indian culture was gross and stupid and that I needed to be “American.” After starting college and taking time to reflect on who I truly am, I’ve realized that I have been trying to live as a white woman.

Being treated differently because of my skin color is not a reflection on me or my personality, it is a reflection of the twisted ideas that many of us are raised believing. Being treated differently because of my skin color does not mean that there is something wrong with me, it means there is something wrong with the person treating me as less than them. Being treated differently because of my gender is not a reflection on me or my personality. I may not be the funniest or kindest person, but I am a person, I am a human being.

Regardless of skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political views, socioeconomic status and countless other factors of difference, we should all be treated as human. We should all be treated like we matter, because we do. To make another being feel less valuable than they are is wrong. Growing up in a small, upper-middle class, conservative, white town, I was made to feel like less than my white peers. I didn’t realize it was a matter of race at the time. I thought that I was being treated differently because I was doing something wrong. I was annoying, stupid, ugly or rude. I thought I was the problem, but the problem isn’t me.

Quite a few people in the past few months have told me that I’m too aggressive, too angry.

Maybe instead of telling me that I’m too angry, people should start asking why I’m so angry.

I’m angry because, according to the standard of beauty, I am ugly, fat and overly emotional. I’m angry because every boy that I have liked has said, “You’re not my type” because I am brown, ugly, fat and overly emotional. I’m angry because being brown in a primarily white society means I do not matter. I’m angry because when I’m at work with my white co-workers, none of our customers approach me first. I’m angry because people give my family dirty looks or say horrible things because of the way we look and speak — as if having an Indian accent means that my parents don’t know anything.

I’m angry because I am brown and that means I do not belong. I’m angry because I am a woman and I am seen as less than a man. I’m angry because I am a brown woman and I am seen as less than white women. I am angry because I am a white woman stuck in a brown woman’s body.

What can we do?

This is how our society is and seemingly always has been. How do we fix it?

Should we fix it?

Yes. I’ve decided to write about my experiences and talk about these issues with those around me in order to influence positive change. Having these conversations is incredibly important because we cannot force people to act differently or think differently. What we can do is encourage them to think about these issues and they may make changes at their own will.

Everyone matters. Everyone deserves to live a full life despite how they might differ from white societal norms and the standard of beauty. I hope one day that we all, as a whole, come to understand that everyone deserves love, respect and kindness.

Cover Image Credit: vervemagazine.in

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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