Have you ever come across old pictures of yourself and shrieked, “I looked like that?” We have all gone through some awkward stages in life and battled with self-esteem issues. As the girls below can attest to, despite their battles with image and confidence, South Asian women everywhere are smart, beautiful, and hip!
“It took me a long while to “come in to my own.” While high school for most was one of the most amazing times, it was for me a long three years of not knowing who I was nor what I want to become. I was always scared of socializing because of my insanely low self-esteem and so I just found refuge in books! As I graduated high school (with honors!), I still felt like something was missing…
The missing puzzle was someone telling me that for good things to come you, you have to love yourself first. From then on, it took getting closer to my family, salvaging friendships from high school, making new friends and going out there to find new opportunities on my own, for me to become who I am today. I starting loving and believing in myself and now I am a Public Relations major at the University of Houston, a Fashion Expert at Express, and an intern at a local radio station. My life is so busy, but it is moving in a positive direction with so many wonderful people rooting for me. Life couldn’t be better…(Oh how I wish I had foreseen this when I was 16!)” -Anonymous
“Growing up in a very white school system, I don’t think I EVER felt comfortable in my skin. At Indian gatherings, where I thought I was suppose to be accepted, I also got criticized for not being fair or tall enough. The European image of beauty of being tall, fair, and skinny was an image I was compared to in both cultures I lived in. It was bad enough that I was going through my awkward stage, but not having support from the people around me affected the way I saw myself. It was not until college where I saw other South Asian women I could relate to that I started believing that I was beautiful as well. I am now growing to love the skin I’m in and appreciate my Indian-ness so much more now! I feel like I’ve come a long way from that girl who use to buy “beige” foundation thinking it would make her lighter and help her fit in.” - Shradha Motwani, Austin, TX
“Today, I am very down to earth and can sometimes be very critical. I am not perfect, but I am very wise about what I want out of life. I have made some mistakes in my life, but I have learned to embrace them and move forward. I am complicated, interesting & very passionate in my beliefs!” -Sana Din, Houston, TX
“As I looked through my rather thin collection of photos I had for this segment, I realized just how much I have progressed since those days. Believe me, these were years I didn’t want to remember, let alone share with anyone else. I didn’t necessarily think the world of myself then, in fact I pretty much went as far down the self-esteem pole as you could go ( I avoided taking pictures and looking in mirrors). But, I think what helped me the most was surrounding myself with good friends and developing a pretty healthy sense of humor. This awkward stage has lasted a large part of my life, but I think I’m finally emerging from it. I think I ‘grew into myself,’ in that I’m so much more comfortable with who I am as a person, and I think that this comes with time. I’ve learned to appreciate what I see in the mirror (yes! I can actually look at myself). The glasses, braces and baby weight may have gone, but I’m left with a happier, funnier me.” - Pooja Patel (BG Contributing Editor), Dallas, TX
“This year was the most eventful year, thus far, of my life. From graduating college to starting my career, it seems like I grew up overnight and have many responsibilities all of a sudden. But, with the responsibilities has also come the freedom and opportunity to do things I did not have time to do when I was in school – be it focus on my job, read books, re-socialize, or write for this magazine. Though I am 22 years old, I still feel 16 and know I will always have the wild, crazy Asma in me no matter how old I am. At the rate things are going in my life, looks like every year from now on will be more eventful, bigger and better than the last one!”- Asma Hassan (BG Contributing Editor), Houston, TX
“I honestly do not think my battle with the mirror has ended completely. Sometimes, I can still find myself nit-picking at every flaw. But when I take a step back and see how far I’ve come from my days as that awkward teenager with extremely low self-esteem, I can actually start to be proud of myself. I came out of my shell in college, made some amazing friends, and started inching closer to making my dreams reality. I know I have a long road ahead of me, but as long as I am true to myself and remind myself that I can do it, I think I’ll be just fine!”- Aditi Mehta (BG Founder), Houston, TX
Photos provided by Shradha Motwani, Sana Din, Pooja Patel, Asma Hassan and Aditi Mehta.