For all 18 years of my life, I’ve lived in cities with large Pakistani communities. This meant never letting go of old traditions and constantly being introduced to new ones as I grew older. For as long as I can remember, my life was very Pakistani culture – centered even though we live in such a Westernized society. Shoutout to Mom and Dad for never letting my younger sister and I forget where we came from.
I love the food, the music, the clothes (!!), but some things about our culture just aren’t that glamorous, like the gender stereotyping for example. Don’t get me wrong, I fully embrace my own Pakistani/Punjabi heritage more than anything. I will never get tired of going to weddings every weekend or eating biryani. I was the least white-washed person at my school just because I was never afraid to show my Pakistani culture.
But with a large community comes a lot of judgment and anxiety for you to constantly do the right thing in such a conservative culture. Not to mention that all eyes are on you when you do something out of the norms. Like when you wear a dress that’s a little too short and the next day all the aunties are gossiping about it. And trust me, this can get a little bit frustrating at times.
So here’s a relatively speaking short list of some of the dangers we face as Pakistani women. And if you’re Pakistani you know this is barely half of the list.
1. The older you get, the more dangerous it is for you to go to Pakistan because you might get married off.
You may not even be at this stage yet, but it’s slowly creeping up on you. And it’s downright scary.
2. You have more shalwar kameez than normal clothes.
I don’t mind this because shalwar kameez are not only super stylish, they are SO comfortable. It’s literally like wearing PJ’s.
3. You leave the house smelling like Pakistani food because of your parent’s cooking.
This is probably the worst thing you’ve ever had to deal with. It’s like there’s no way out because your parents are always cooking.
4. You’re not allowed to date until you’re married.
Do I need to explain this?
5. A wedding invitation for 6 PM actually means starting to get ready at 6 PM and arriving at the actual wedding 3 hours later.
No matter how late you think you’re getting, you’re probably still going to be one of the first few families that arrive.
6. Your life feels complete after you get your nose pierced.
For some reason, it’s instilled in you that you have to get your nose pierced to become a true Pakistani.
7. Aunties are constantly describing your physical appearance as either “healthy” or “smart.”
Will someone please explain how being skinny makes me smart?
8. An upcoming wedding means ordering 5-6 new suits from your relatives in Pakistan.
Hehe. What’s better than getting a new wardrobe every time a family friend or family member gets married!?
9. You’re automatically the coolest person in the room when you have henna on.
“Oh my god you did that yourself? You are SO talented!”
10. Weddings aren’t just a two-day occasion, but more like a two-month occasion.
Oh, how much I adore wedding season. You’d think you’d be tired of it by now, but nope. Keep em’ coming.
11. You avoid aunties at every possible moment because the only thing they ask you is about when you’re getting married.
…but you have other priorities such as school and work.
12. You have no self-worth until your rotis are perfectly round.
This is you after you’re told you’ll never find a husband because your rotis aren’t round enough.
13. You don’t have the slightest idea as to what freedom is.
14. Your parents don’t care about what your brothers do, but since you’re the GIRL everything is different.
They can do it because they’re boys.
15. When you’re only allowed to wear nail polish for one week out of the whole month.
Because apparently praying namaz with nail polish on “doesn’t count.”
16. Having to choreograph a variety of dances for your cousin’s wedding.
It’s like everyone forces you to dance but you actually don’t mind it in the end because it’s FUN.
17. When your mom forced you to apply Fair & Lovely cream every day as a child.
Really mom, really?
18. “You look Indian to me.”
Yes, I know I probably look Indian to you. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m Pakistani.
19. When all of a sudden your personal life becomes the center of the aunties’ daily gossip.
Oh hello, Aunty. That’s right, I know you’re whispering about me.
20. When you can’t walk out of the house wearing just anything.
God forbid you walk out of the house wearing a crop top.
21. When you lowkey feel like your only job is to get married and start a family.
No, no, no!!!