First and foremost, I am a first second generation Pakistani-American. I lived in Pakistan between the ages of 2 to 5 before we moved back here to the States but my entire childhood was spent trying to figure out who I was. Pakistani or American? My dad likes to joke that he did everything he could to confuse us as much as possible about figuring out our identities because he is Pakistani through and through and did whatever he could to instill that within us.
At a young age, all you want to do is fit in and be like everyone else but my siblings and I always stuck out, wherever we went as we were always one of the few brown faces in a sea of white. I feel like I was hypersensitive to this fact. I always noticed the looks we got if we ever were in public in our traditional clothing and from a young age I feel like I started to curl in on myself a little. When in Pakistan, we were still viewed as outsiders by people living there as to them we had become American so it really felt like we did not belong in the USA or in Pakistan for much of our lives.
I guess in order to deal with all of this I chose to hide in order to keep myself and my family protected from the world around me. The thing is, you can only hide for so long before you have to stand tall and face all the things the world throws at you head on. Over time I learned to accept the duality of my identity. I learned that just because I am American and Pakistani does not mean that I am more or less of either. I was born in the States and have lived here for much of my life and I belong here but Pakistan is in my blood just as it is in my heart. My fathers efforts of instilling the culture and language in us paid off and now I can go there without people recognizing me as an outsider. I belong both here and there and I am not more or less of either.
Part of being both meant that we were lucky enough to have two completely different wardrobes. One consisting of Western clothes and one of Eastern clothes. Every now and then I like to mix and match and combine the two as I feel like it is a fun way to express myself. Something I truly believe is that a good pair of shoes can really put together an outfit. Growing up, I definitely used shoes as a way to feel more confident then I was. These heels are anything but shy. They are the kind of shoes I’ll wear with both Western and Eastern clothes and they make me feel powerful and strong. I could have picked a more traditional shoe, but I love these and I honestly wear them more with my Pakistani clothing then I do with any Western clothing I have. They remind me that although I may not be solely American or solely Pakistani, I incorporate both of these identities in myself. I am both and that gives me strength. It is something I am proud of and wearing these shoes make me feel like I can stand tall and be confident in myself and all of my identities.
-Tabeer Fatima Naqvi