I always felt like I was walking down a tightrope growing up, trying to find a balance between my two ever-contrasting cultures.
There’s a part of me that recites Bollywood movies by heart, goes to the local mosque every Friday and religiously keeps up with Lahore Fashion Week. But I was always off-balance, dangerously leaning into my so-called "white life," defined by years of covering up my culture at school and feeling ostracized by other Pakistani girls. And at one point in high school, I completely fell off the tightrope, stumbling through the air desperately trying to figure out who I was.
The thing is, I never had anyone in popular culture who looked and thought like me. It’s lonely trying to navigate this weird, cultural partition by yourself, especially when all four of your best friends from high school are white.
We’re finally getting some South Asian representation, but besides Mindy Kaling, the most celebrated actors and comedians are all men. And frankly, their portrayals of South Asian women don’t do anything to empower or represent us.
In “The Big Sick,” the critically acclaimed feel-good romantic comedy between a Pakistani man and a white woman, almost all of the Pakistani women are reduced to comical stereotypes. Kumail Nanjiani’s white love interest, based on his real life wife and co-screenwriter, was portrayed as witty and independent while every other Pakistani woman was docile or marriage-obsessed. South Asian women weren’t even featured in the first season of Aziz Ansari’s show “Master of None.”