Let’s talk about: Identities | Its campus

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

“Who are you?” they ask. This simple three-word question can stimulate a loaded answer because people are made up of multiple identities. Society tends to label an individual, but how is this possible when human beings are widespread, diverse and complex organisms of nature? A person who identifies as a girl may not just to be a girl. She may be a transgender woman who has been discriminated against and hated for being true to herself. A secondary school teacher may not just to be a teacher. It could be a teacher who has a passion for music and dreams of being a DJ in Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival one day. We are more than a label, more than an identity. I am a girl, a woman, an Indian and a foodie. These identities may seem superficial at first; my identity as a daughter stems from my mother or my identity as an Indian stems from my ethnicity. While this may be partially accurate, these identities have a deeper meaning with a richer history.

One Thursday at 9:20 p.m., I became a girl. It was the day my mother gave birth to me, her second daughter. However, my identity as a girl is deeper than my relationship with my parents. From an early age, my mother told me about her mother and her grandmother. These women make me who I am today. They were “housewives” as they cooked, cleaned, and entertained with grace and diligence. They worked as teachers and nurses with passion and wisdom. They raised my mother and their other children with love and discipline. My mother learned similar qualities that made me who I am today. I strive to have their attributes one day – to be a wise teacher and a loving mother. I am the daughter of my beautiful ancestors.

I was raised by two immigrant parents who traveled to America with the intention of creating a prosperous future. Today I am surrounded by vibrant colors, ignorant stereotypes, aunts and uncles, the smell of chicken biriyani, Shah Rukh Khan, lehengas and saris. As a person of color living in a predominantly white community, I was exposed to implicit bias at a young age. I watched the kids pointing and giggling, “you smell like curry!” or “you are a terrorist!” These microaggressions shaped my perception of Indian culture as I became embarrassed by it. I didn’t want to be seen with other Indian students or eating Indian food in the cafeteria. I traveled to India in 2019 and it reminded me of the beauty that exists in my country. I was surrounded by colorful festivals, the sounds of a sitar and the love of my large extended family. I no longer gave society the power to distort my perception of Indian culture. I am a proud Indian of my heritage.

My identity as women of color is deeper than my internal sense of my gender. Society puts women in a box, a box where they have to act a certain way, speak a certain way, or look a certain way. My physical appearance has the most impact on my life. They create unrealistic expectations that a human simply cannot achieve. Growing up, I never felt beautiful because my environment glorified Eurocentric characteristics. I believed the definition of beautiful had white skin, blond hair and blue eyes that I didn’t have. I read articles about white princesses who met their prince charming. I watched tutorials on how to fade my dark skin on social media. I lived in a world that showed me no love. I wasn’t taught to love my features because my ancestors weren’t taught to. I yearned for validation from a society that had never intended to give it to me. So, like other women of color, I had to find the love within myself by appreciating my own traits. I want to teach young girls about our beauty and resist the Eurocentric norms of society. I am a woman who loves every part of myself. I am a woman who wants to teach love and to be loved.

I am proud to identify myself as foodie. Note: my favorite dish is bread, because you can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I am always happy to indulge in different types of foods and cuisines. As someone who loves to eat, my body goes through changes that vary depending on what I eat. Sometimes I limit what I eat because I don’t want to gain weight. I skip some meals so I don’t get bloated the rest of the day. This state of mind was detrimental to my self-image and my eating habits. One day I read something that changed my mindset. My body takes care of me as I walk around and live new adventures that the world offers me. It is therefore important to love my body by feeding my stomach, my brain and my body with nourishing food. Every day I struggle to eat, I remind myself to love my body like I love food. I’m a foodie who cares about my body because it cares about me.

More importantly, I’m just a To be human. I live the ups and downs of life. I meet various people who make me who I am. I make mistakes that help me grow. I am simply a human being made up of several identities.

Original illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media
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