"I Love Slumdog Millionaire!" And 10 Other Things Pakistani/Brown Girls Are Tired of Hearing
When it comes down to it, girls and women get a lot of crap for being girls and women, and non-white girls and women get even more crap for being female and people of color. Yesterday, Iman Milner wrote for Bustle about 9 things black women are tired of hearing, such as "You look just like Lupita Nyong'o!" or "Is that your real hair?" because, you know, every black woman looks like Lupita Nyong'o, and what she does with her hair is totally your business.
Every woman of color has her own stories to tell about stupid comments made with regards to her race. I'm a Pakistani woman and in my experience, most comments will revolve around racial stereotypes that are problematic, ignorant, or just downright incorrect. They'll range from the relatively benign to the more offensive. They'll range from someone saying "Namaste" to me (I'm not Indian) to saying "Wow, you are so beautiful, especially for an Indian girl" (once again, not Indian, and that's a horribly inappropriate thing to say to anyone, regardless of their race).
If you're a brown girl, you might also be tired of hearing these things, and if you're the person who's saying these things, maybe this can be an educational journey for you and your ignorance.
1. "You are so exotic looking!"
Hey thanks for establishing that I'm not white and look like I'm from a foreign land! Oh unless you meant that I look like exotic plant or exotic food? Either way, your analysis that my features and skin color are different is super useful and necessary!
2. "Oh my god, I want to try on a sari! You should let me try on one of yours!"
That's super cool for you! I want to try on a sari, too! Because guess what, not all brown people wear saris and saris are also not the only thing that brown people wear.
3. "So your nose piercing, is that a cultural thing?"
No. It's a "I'm really cool and like to use piercings to express my style and my little shiny hoop looks really damn good on me" thing.
4. "Wow, you weren't born here? But your English is really good!"
Yeah. Because I've been living in the states since I was 11 months old. It's where my dad practiced medicine and where my mom went to school and where my brother was born so...
5. "So, like, what do you think about Osama Bin Laden?"
Listen. I never met the guy. I most likely think exactly what you think. Just because he was chillin in Pakistan doesn't mean we were ever acquainted or that we have ever communicated via secret brown people brainwaves.
6. "If you're Pakistani, why don't you wear a burka?"
Oh, I don't know. Maybe because a burka has to do with someone's interpretation of Islam and isn't actually a national dress code? And also because not all brown people are, by default, Muslims or even religious?
7. "Say something in your language!"
8. "I love Slumdog Millionaire!"
I know you think that's a valid thing to say because I'm brown and the movie is about, like, brown people and Dev Patel and Freida Pinto are brown but yeah, I haven't even seen it.
9. "You look a lot like Freida Pinto!"
I guess it's not your fault that you think that because she's literally the only brown girl you've ever seen in a major motion picture.
10. "So, what does Jai Ho actually mean?"
I literally have no idea.
11. "Is your mother going to make you get an arranged marriage?"
My mother isn't going to make me do anything, just like your mother isn't going to and probably can't make you do anything. It's 2014, I was raised in the U.S., and my mother knows to let me play the field. Mostly because she has no other option.