“You’re Pretty. I Mean For A Brown Girl”

By Shireen Valliani

The roaring words “You’re pretty; I mean, for a brown girl” continue to thrash through my mind. My response? I guess I could have been a little appreciative that someone took the time out of their day to throw a so-called “complement” my way, instead I was outraged that someone even bothered to make such a disgusting remark.

Even though I am a VERY proud Pakistani, the color “brown” does not define me. There are so many components that women tend to worry about- their body type, their facial features, their hair, their intelligence, their rights, their skin, their clothes.

You’re too fat, you’re too skinny, you’re too pale, you’re too dark, you have thunder thighs, you have chicken legs, your face is too round, your face is too narrow, you’re cake faced, your face is too bare.

Why does culture have to be added to this already elongated list of things women need to worry about? Women are beautiful, and not because of their physique or appearance, but because of their power and intelligence.

Unfortunately, I have been raised in a society that has centralized physical features. I grew up being told to stay out of the sun because my skin tans easily and “darker skin is not appealing.”

These stupid beauty standards have impacted many women very negatively.

Some days, I look in the mirror and instantly become upset because I’m not a size 0 and as a matter of fact I am on the chubbier side.

But as I sit down and truly reflect on the past 21 years of my life, who really cares about those superficial things?

No one is going to leave a mark on the world for their external features, they will be known for their intellect and the contributions they make in this world. Why has attaining an unnatural beauty become our one true goal?

Lip Jobs, nose jobs, liposuction, screw all of that. I would want my daughter to appreciate her natural beauty, and above all her intellect. I want her to understand that she is worth so much regardless of her size, skin color, appearance and I never ever want her to feel ashamed of her color.

Brown is just as beautiful as any other color and honestly the world would be a boring place if we were all just ONE color.

I used to be ashamed of my tan skin, I used to be ashamed of my color, my culture, and my religion.

Today, I couldn’t be prouder. I am proud of the way that my color reflects my origins and the country in which my parents were raised. My color is not just a color, it represents my identity and traces me back to the beautiful country Pakistan.

It reminds me of all the challenges that my parents went through to become who they are today, all the endless time they spent providing money to put food on the table and simultaneously being educated. It reminds me of all the hardships my grandparents faced to provide their children with basic necessities.

So, to some people I may just be some “brown girl” but I embrace my color openly.

Although understanding how to be confident in myself is a journey that I venture on everyday, I have learned to appreciate myself for who I am and refrain from comparing myself to those around me.

My color is beautiful. YOUR color is beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Zaheer Molu

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