As a child, I was fiercely unique. I wore my individuality as a cape, protecting me from people’s malicious thoughts. I was loud and proud, and unapologetic about it. Everything about me was like a megaphone. Heck, I used to pair bright orange with blue for my outfits. I was THAT loud.
I have a genetic disorder called eczema, or atopic dermatitis, and I have a sensitive immune system and liver. When I was ten, it got worse. I had to take time off school, and my skin was covered in rashes. That confidence? That uniqueness? Gone. My self-esteem took the express train to rock bottom. And the way my parents dealt with it aggravated my hyper-awareness. They were understanding, and definitely caring about it. They love me and would do anything for me, and I’m lucky that they do. However, it shows to this day that they are a little embarrassed about it. In India, fair skin is preferred over darker skin. My scars were a few shades darker than my skin tone, which rubbed my Indian relatives the wrong way since I’m not fair to begin with. They’d always tell me about how I’ve gotten darker whenever I visited. Only today do I realize that it still affects me when I go shopping and I hesitate to buy shorts or skirts because what if someone stares? What if they’re disgusted? Unknowingly, my parents made my insecurities worse. I don’t blame them; they were raised like that. But even to this day, I end up second guessing myself.
“Are you sure you should be wearing that?”
“Are you sure no one will stare?”
“Are you sure?”
Are you sure?
Some days, it doesn’t matter to me. Some days it’s all that matters to me. I’m working on it. I’m improving, but I don’t think parents realize just how much they affect their kids. Without those three words “Are you sure?” I would probably not give a crap what anyone thinks. But because Indian families are so hellbent on what OTHER people think, they’re hurting their own children. It’s not just in my case. It can be if their child is gay, if they’re non-binary, if they suffer from a mental illness. I’m not saying every Indian parent is like this, but something needs to change, doesn’t it?
I have a question for those Indian parents. Why do you care so much what other people think? Why is their opinion more important than your child’s well-being? They didn’t have your child. They didn’t look at those tiny fingers and toes, they didn’t watch that child grow into a teenager. They don’t know anything about your child, so what gives them the right to dictate how you perceive your child? You should love your children, regardless of what other people think, because YOU are their parent. It’s you. Don’t be someone that they regret knowing. Be their hero. Be their rock. Because if you aren’t, who will be?