Being A Brown Girl In The US

If you didn't know, my parents are from Pakistan. My family immigrated to the United States when I was very young. I love being the fusion of cultures. My favorite things from Pakistan are the clothes and food, but I also love the opportunities, freedom, and mindset that I have because I was raised in the US. Anything that is a fusion of these cultures is something I adore and appreciate. 

It's not easy being a brown girl in the US. Not a lot of people know your culture as anything but what the media portrays. It's also hard because not a lot of entertainment, brands, or fashion involves people of your race or culture. To find a brown girl wearing a dupatta printed on a T-shirt at the mall is not something that's very common at all. 

Thus, I'm sharing a product today that I think does such an AMAZING job at sharing that fusion of cultures. Simbazaar's mission is to empower South Asian girls by helping them embrace their skin color, ethnicity, and background in today's world. The designs of the girls are totally bad-ass and awesome. The T-shirt and phone case I'm showcasing in this post are from a brand called Simbazaar. When I came across Simbazaar, I saw the positive light that Simrah, the artist and designer, was showcasing on Indian/Pakistani Cultures. I felt a connection with the products that I had almost never felt before. The letter "b" in "Simbazaar" was showcased as the urdu letter for "b", and on her designs I saw girls that looked like me. Their skin color was like mine, they were wearing jewlery like my mom's, and there was henna portrayed in (no better way to describe it other than:) a hella cool way. I could not be more passionate, honored, or happy to be collaborating with her crazy impressive brand! You can read more about Simbazaar here and shop here

Check out some pics (below) of me sporting a T-shirt and iPhone case from Simbaazar, and then read my list of some things that happen when you're a brown girl living in the US. 

Also, I want to share with you lovely folks some things that happen when you're a brown girl living in the United States: 
  • You know all the brown girls at your 45,000 student university. All brown people are connected in one way or another. 
  • You love your going-out clothes, but nothing compares to getting dressed up in brown clothes filled with sequins and embroidery and the way that sari makes sure your hips don’t lie. 
  • You try losing weight but your cultural food is amazing and even though 75% of it is vegetables and lentils, you never lose weight eating pakoras and daal chawal.
  • You love Beyonce almost as much as you love the jams from Kubhi Kushi Kabhi Ghaam. 
  • You take 1 week off work/school for any brown wedding happening. Brown weddings are the best, but they’re also an entire week long. 
  • You would choose desi home made chai (with the elychi) over Starbucks anyday. 
  • You know Facebook privacy settings like the back of your hand.
  • You’ve been told “no boys” since birth, but now that you’re 22, people keep asking when you’re getting married.
  • You always have to ask the waiter for hot sauce, red pepper flakes, chili, or a level 5. One time, they gave you pepper and it wasn't okay. 
  • People always compliment you on your eyebrows, but don’t know that you have to get them done once a week, else they grow out into a forest.
  • You take every opportunity to coordinate a dance to desi music. 
  • Your non-brown friends know all your catch phrases like “inshAllah,” “challo,” “acha.”
  • Your Facebook friend requests are filled with “frandship” invites that want you to “rishta wid me”.
  • When they ask you to come home by 10pm, but the party doesn't start until 10pm. 
  • Being invited to a dawat at 7pm but no one shows up until at least 9pm. You also know what house it is because it's the only house with the lights still on and shoes outside.
  • When you haven’t seen an aunty since you were 12 and she asks if you’ve gained weight. 
  • Nazar. 
  • Maggie noodles and KurKure chips and halal meat are all you go to the little Indian supermarket for. 
  • You love introducing your non-brown friends to Indian/Pakistani restaurants. You love going to their favorite pho place and they love coming to the dosa place with you. 
  • When you accidentally pick up the home phone and have to talk to your parent's aunt's cousin's daughter-in-law and make small talk.
  • When you go visit your native brown country and everyone looks at you weird because you order your own food, make conversation with everyone in the family (while not whispering), like to go places without a male guardian, aren’t afraid to say what’s on your mind, and hold on tight to your millennial and liberal west coast (best coast) views.
  • When someone tells you it’s their first time meeting a Indian/Pakistani girl but you’re like “There’s literally billions of us.”
  • When someone comes over and you feel the need to feed them everything in your fridge. Likewise, when you go over to a non-brown person's house and don’t get offered tea/drinks, so you think they must hate your guts. 
  • When you love the holiday season as much as you love Eid or Holi. 
  • You always finish your whole plate of food, or take home the leftovers, because mama always taught you the last piece of rice has the most reward. 
  • When your urdu/hindi skills suck so much your parents don’t even correct you anymore. 
  • When you relate to Mindy Kaling on the highest level. You love being an educated, free thinking, stylish, independent female. 
  • When your parents are cool and progressive but you have to worry about the external judgements of aunties and relatives abroad. 
  • Using Groupon and knowing your parents would be proud. 
  • Searching everywhere for new cultural clothes online and abroad before resorting to your family/friends in the homeland to send over clothes. 
  • People can usually not pronounce your name correctly or guess where you’re from. If they can, it’s the Middle East or Mexico. 
  • Hearing the media and news discuss your rights and completely disagreeing. Thanks for nothing mainstream media. 
  • You’re a disgrace if you wear any earrings or piercings that aren’t real gold. Your Forever 21 earrings are "bakwaas." 
  • Aunties and relatives are allowed to question your life decisions. Why do you not wear the scarf? How will you pray with nail polish on?
  • It’s not good enough to be a stay-at-home mom and also not okay to have a full-time professional job. Either way, you’re screwed. 
  • You get so excited when you see a brown girl on TV, the media, doing anything cool (New Girl, The Mindy Project, Quantico).
  • Sure rap is fun, EDM is cool, but when that punjabi DJ comes out there’s not a single part of you breaking out into dance moves. 
  • You’ll always be thankful to your parents for leaving everything behind and immigrating to the US. You’re beyond grateful for them and how much they’ve sacrificed and continue to do so every day. 
  • You love being a combination of brown and American. You're so thankful to have both of these identities and cultures.
Let me know what you thought of this little list of mine! Any thing you really agree/disagree with? Ooh, and don't forget to check out SIMBAZAAR to get your own cool brown girl T-shirt and phone case! 

Shirt & iPhone Case: Simbaazaar
Jeans & Jacket: Forever 21
Choker and Teeka: My mom's South Asian jewelry collection
Shoes: Madden Girl by Steve Madden

1 comment

  1. Okay, I don't know where to start at this, but here it goes.
    You have done an amazing job at exploring a wastly ignored topic. Yes ! it's not easy being a brown girl in the U.S. and yes brands like Simbazaar are effectively empowering South Asian women by making them embrace their skin color and heritage. Simbazaar is not the only brands, there are multiple other brands popping up on Facebook who serves almost the same purpose (at varying price though lol). Nonetheless , I am impressed by the pop culture approach Simbazaar took to highlight brown girls culture and identify. However, I I am more impressed by the hilarious approach you took to express the problems Pakistani - Americans face both here and abroad. From receiving random friend requests, to having an hour long discussion about Nazar with your parents. From being invited to dawat (feast) where no one, and I assure you no one, shows on time to patiently listening to life advices from aunts, uncles, siblings and almost all family members who can speak the language and are older than you.

    I also enjoyed how you showed all the benefits of being a brown person . Desi Weddings are a blessing. Yes you are right they do last a week and maybe sometimes more, but seriously ? A week long vacation! where I work, people would do purges on each other to get a week long all expense (minus flight ticket ) paid vacation. And mind you, I work in one of the most beautiful islands of Washington - Oak harbor.

    In short, I was throughly entertained by your writing, very genuine and interesting. Not once did I think about closing your article and doing my work. That means two things.
    One: I am happy that I came across your blog
    Two: I am delinquent on my work and tommorow will be super busy.
    Very respectfully
    Ali Ansari.