Paris by the River

Finding my Fit

I am the child of immigrant parents. My parents, coming from India, had no idea of the life that they would be creating for me and for themselves. Growing up, I had the opportunity to live all over the nation. By age 11, I had lived in 11 different places. Each move brought along its various experiences and adventures, each of which helped shape me into the person I am today.

I won’t lie, moving each year, having to be the new kid everywhere I went, was really tough. I envied the kids who lived in the same place their whole lives, and they envied me for having seen so many places. Due to moving around, fitting in and gaining that sense of belonging that kids long for was very difficult. I finally got that feeling when we moved to Illinois in 2013 and decided to stay here for the rest of my schooling years. For once in my life I got to experience living in a neighborhood, having a house with stairs, and going to the same school for more than one year. I was 11 at the time, and right as I thought everything was falling into place, middle school came and a whole new set of insecurities and challenges were thrown my way. 

As a young teenager, I really struggled with the beauty and fashion standards in this country. Despite being a competitive swimmer with an athletic body, being an Indian girl, I was genetically predisposed to have a fuller body than most of my white peers. I would find myself and my mother often getting frustrated with shopping and generally trying on clothes simply because the clothes I wanted to wear didn't fit my body shape the same way it did my peers. The clothes I wanted to wear were designed to be worn by girls who were skinnier than me, and the majority of the time they showed more skin than my mom was comfortable with. 

I hated feeling as though my body wasn’t good enough for the clothes that everyone else was wearing. 

Why couldn’t my body look like theirs? Would I ever be able to look as good as they do?

Body insecurity is a big issue that most teenage girls experience. But why? Why are we as girls, who all have imperfections, not able to accept and embrace each other no matter what we look like or dress like?  

Over my years of high school I had varied career interests in everything from marine biology to neuroscience, but none of them felt like the right fit for me. Ultimately in my junior year of high school I had decided that I wanted to go into marketing. Marketing was perfect for me in two main ways:  

  1. I am not an artistic person, but I have an artistic mind. As a kid art classes were always very difficult for me as I would know exactly what I wanted to create, but pencil to paper, actually creating what I had envisioned was always an epic failure. Through marketing, I would be able to share my creativity with the world without having to physically draw. 

  2. Marketing allowed me to transfer my care and consideration for being well-presented into a national and global level. Marketing would allow me to utilize my skill and my interests to help any company present themselves in a specific manner.

In November of my senior year, my family went on a trip to Paris. That was it for me. Going to Paris, the fashion city of the world, made me realize how much power the fashion industry really has. It took me going to Paris to realize that so many people, regardless of race, age or gender, follow fashion trends. Fashion presents an easy way for our seemingly large world and multi-billion population to be connected. 

Fashion is the thread that connects one person to the rest of the world.

I always knew that fashion as a whole concept was something that interested me. I always liked to look nice. No matter the occasion, I always had a well-put together outfit with complementing accessories and footwear. Even outside clothes as a material, I grasped the concept of making a statement with clothing and being able to convey an emotion and an idea through clothing.  

Everything suddenly made sense to me. Fashion merchandising and marketing was the career that I chose to pursue. It seamlessly combined skills that I already had and was successful at with a subject matter that I had a strong passion for. Fashion allowed me to tackle all the challenges that I had faced as a teenager as a way to make sure that the generations that came after me didn't have to deal with the same insecurities and body image issues as I did. 

In the future, I hope to be the Chief Marketing Officer of a retail brand. I know that there will be challenges along my way, but in the end, I’m hoping that my unique background and perspectives as being a young woman of color will allow me to inspire change and create a future that is more inclusive and appreciative of our differences. It is my goal to spark a prominent wave of inclusivity in teenage girls and to help foster an environment where girls of all body types can feel like they are the norm and can feel happy with who they are.