Imperfect, Perfect Indian Girl
Megha Rana, Division 2, 12th grade #ws17e-s1d2

Vogue. InStyle. Harper's Bazaar. These were scattered across my room, and I spent hours looking through every one, the style and creativity making me feel more inspired with every page I turned. I could hear my mother yelling, though: ""Megha, stop wasting your time on those useless magazines."" At other times my father would say, ""You will never succeed in fashion."" Part of me wanted to consider what they, my parents who I love and respect, had to say. Deep down, however, I knew fashion for me was not just silly, but what I believed in and felt driven and passionate about pursuing.

Growing up, fashion was habitually my escape. I was always the one to go to a dinner dressed as if I were going to a fashion show, and I loved working with clothes and styling to express myself in new, creative ways. I always stood out, but it made me feel comfortable and confident. This also meant, however, that I stood out to my parents in ways they probably had not expected. My parents were born and raised in small villages in India. Living in the U.S. they have preserved many of their traditions and views. While I identify as Indian I feel I have fully acclimated to American culture, but I definitely have felt it is a challenge to put my best foot forward in a way that is true to who I am but also does not conflict with their views. When I would get dressed for school, I put on clothes I thought they imagined their perfect Indian daughter would wear, but once they are out of sight I let my American identity show more. I tried very hard to respect the values they grew up with, but it was tough. I did not only have Indian in my blood, but I also truly felt American. As a result I ended up questioning my Indian culture’s views and traditions. I felt certain expectations conflicted with how I naturally expressed myself and what I loved doing.

When I finally accepted what I always believed —that I wanted to pursue a career in the business side of fashion—I was scared. Indian parents usually push their children to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, or even housewives, but it is rare to see Indian women in the fashion world. Indian girls are often portrayed to be conservative and traditional, but I am different and proud of that. I have always embraced diversity and surrounded myself with it. I tried to alter the perceptions my parents held about fashion, but we have often had a hard time fully understanding each other. I know, though, that my parents want what is best for me. Their main goal in moving to America was to give my brothers and I the best life possible.

My parents are not stopping me from doing what I love, however, I am determined to be that successful daughter that they deserved even while giving myself the best future I deserve, which includes staying true to myself and following my passion to pursue fashion. I do not see this as turning my back on my heritage, though. The Indian culture influences me in many ways and I consider my differences and Indian-American identity as positives, because it makes my style—and me—even more vibrant and dynamic. I am determined that no matter how challenging it could be, I will always persevere to succeed and prove to myself, my parents and other Indians who want to work in fashion that, as an Indian girl, you really can do it.
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