Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SJSU chapter.

For many years I have struggled to embrace my South Asian Roots.

I am sure many of us second-generation Americans can relate to this. It feels like we are neither Indian nor American enough. 

Ever since I was little, I tried to hide every part of my culture. I found myself standing in front of the mirror many times ashamed of my own brown skin and wanting to fit so badly into the eurocentric standard of beauty.

I really wanted to see myself with blue eyes, blonde hair, and skinny. The issues of colorism are very important and need to be greatly fixed.

In fact, traditional cultures made fair skin to be considered beautiful and the most ideal. 

However, recently the Indian cosmetic brand called Fair and Lovely changed its name to Glow and Lovely which made me realize that nothing has changed.

I look back and I am saddened that I could never fit myself in mainstream media because of what the media has depicted to be the perfect South Asian girl.

In fact, many South Asians do not have the passion to become a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Their passions lie in various other fields such as film, television, modeling, etc.

Growing up, I used to watch The Mindy Project and read Why Not Me  by Mindy Kaling. She spoke to me in a way in which I could feel a sense of belonging and pride.

She wrote about her experiences as a child watching Saturday Night Live and the drastic impact it made on her life. She was really an important inspiration for me, especially me, especially because growing up in Silicon Valley it is very easy to be forced into a career that one does not like.

The level of competition in the valley is increasingly high. 

However, it never affected me. In fact, I was far from the model minority. I never took AP classes in high school and avoided STEM at all costs. I also went to a high school in a small town where there was not a lot of minority presence.

When I left for college I went to a school that was predominately white and felt the need to wear a mask to suppress my features. 

I got used to men telling me “You’re pretty enough for an Indian” or “You’re exotic”. Sometimes I wish men would just realize that it is okay for me to just be pretty and my race has nothing to do with it. I never heard those comments from where I was from.

During the first year of college, I found myself longing for my mother’s dishes such as Sambar or Dosa with Chutney Podi. I did not like dorm food. Missing the hot spicy food made me realize how special it is to cherish every moment possible. 

These experiences also made me reflect on how I wanted to hide my Chapati and a side dish for lunch in elementary school because I did not want kids to judge on how it looked.

By ignoring the recipes from my ancestors and my family, I am simply erasing my culture. Now I am at a point in my life where I want to learn more about the family’s history and remember the dishes that my grandma made such as her wonderful lemon pickle.

I want to learn how to speak Kannada from my mother’s side and Tamil from my dad’s side. 

Even though it took me time to understand my identity and where I come from, I will never know who I actually look like because I was adopted from India. I felt a sense of sadness when I could not see myself when I looked at my parents’ faces but now I have realized that I do know my roots. 

My mother and I may not have the same blood type but I have realized I have picked up on her mannerisms. People say I smile like her. I realize the importance of family.

Last year was like a year like no other. I went to Banglore trying to understand my personal history.

After 21 years of waiting, I thought that the answers would change my life. I want to dive into my roots instead of swimming away. 

How do you feel about embracing your cultural roots? Tell us your story by tagging us on Instagram @HerCampusSJSU

Hello My name is Ranjana I am a writer at Her Campus SJSU. I am a sociology major and in my free time I love to hang with friends, read and passionate about women right issues.