Safe spaces, imposter syndrome and wearing salwaar kameez

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I love BAMEinPublishing! Some of the most talented people I know are apart of this group. I’m so grateful for groups like this, safe spaces for those of us who are outnumbered in society and in industries that still have a lot to do in terms of inclusivity.

Let me tell you the story behind this picture though, well my story. The morning of this day I wasn’t even in London, I had a meeting so I commuted in from Birmingham, I was wearing salwaar kameez and I remember this because I messaged a couple of friends to ask if wearing salwaar kameez would make look odd in my meeting because, well there wasn’t going to be any other Asian wearing salwaar kameez in the entire building so I’d be the odd one out. After some convincing and then because I didn’t have time to go and change in my place in London I went to my meeting in my traditional cultural dress and that was that.

After the meeting I rushed home and changed my clothes because I was desperate to fit into this safe space too. And I did fit in and it was fantastic and I know I did a disservice to every single person there because nobody would have cared if I wore salwaar kameez, but I guess I would have. Because somewhere in my mind I have allowed myself to believe that I should be ashamed of this part of my culture. When I wear salwaar kameez outside of my community I get weird looks and people scrunching up their noses and speaking to me like an idiot because they think I can’t speak English. I stick out like a soar thumb and I guess I just really wanted to fit in here. For me this has turned into a battle with myself where I am one person in one place in one sort of dress and another in another place. My own perversion of my imposter syndrome for myself means I will only accept certain dressed versions of myself in certain environments. I find this odd and interesting especially because I believe this space is one of the the few spaces where nobody would have cared what I was dressed like.