Varshitha Selvarajan Uma
December 13, 2019
Born in India and raised in America, Varshitha Selvarajan Uma has never been ashamed of her culture, but also has always struggled to fit in.
“In the group of being not white, girls are primarily affected by standards of beauty,” said Selvarajan Uma. “In America, the beauty standard is blue or green eyes, light colored skin and super bleached blonde hair,” said Selvarajan Uma. She feels that when Indians try to fit into this standard of beauty it’s different. It’s discouraging and she often wonders why she doesn’t look like people in advertisements or supermodels.
Selvarajan Uma has learned to coexist with this standard of beauty by being a part of a community both in person and on social media. “I feel different, but it is not in a bad way,” said Selvarajan Uma. “When I was little, I used to live in Wisconsin, which is all white people, so in all of our class pictures everyone was white except for me and my best friend. Before it used to be kind of weird to me, but now it is normal.”
Selvarajan Uma believes there is nothing wrong with embracing her culture which is not heavily showcased in mainstream media. She stays true to her roots by learning Bharathanatyam dance, a traditional South Indian Classical art form. This year, she completed her Arangetram, a solo dance debut which lasts around two hours.
“When I invited my white and other non-Indian friends to my arangetram, they told me how amazing my performance was and that made me feel proud of my culture and myself. I felt so happy that I could introduce them to another culture,” said Selvarajan Uma.
Although Selvarajan Uma surrounds herself with positive influences and is not afraid of flaunting her culture, she has also faced occasional negative comments.
“People that go to this school have cyber bullied me about my friend and I about our race. They make jokes about me smelling like curry and things like that. No one is going to fix it, that is just the type of thing that happens to colored people, so I’ve gotten used to it,” said Selvarajan Uma.
While she knows that she cannot fix people’s ignorance towards her and her culture, she is happy to have people she can relate too about the cultural differences she shares with her peers.
“We don’t have to go far to find our people. Irvine is more diverse in that there are a lot more minorities, and I feel more comfortable there because I do not feel judged there,” said Selvarajan Uma.
The adversity Selvarajan Uma has faced has helped her develop into the proud Indian Immigrant she is today, and she believes that this pride can be shared with others if they were to have an open mind.
She feels that in general, minorities would feel included more if others were more welcoming of people with different backgrounds.
“If people put looks aside and communicated with others, it would be a lot safer for most people” said Selvarajan Uma.