Hey guys, Nina here. This is me, dressed as a super-cool ~American girl~. But I'm not just American. I'm Sri Lankan-American, and there's a whole other layer to my identity that I don't often get to express.
Every time I wear a sari, I feel incredible. They make my body look great, I feel very ~fancy~, and best of all, they make me feel super connected to my culture in a way I don't experience on a day-to-day basis. So I decided to wear saris for a week!
Because I only have a few saris of my own, my mother let me raid her closet. There were A LOT of choices.
My mother and I spent a good hour going through her sari collection and picked a nice variety for a work week. We went with saris that weren’t too heavy with beading so I could be a little more mobile at work (and not worry about losing beads tbh). A lot of times, you can get custom matching blouses made for saris. Since my mother’s blouses wouldn’t fit me, I chose to pair each sari with a crop top.
My mother also had to give me a crash course in sari-wearing.
FYI, this is what it looks like to pleat the skirt of the sari.
This may seem simple, but draping a sari is really an art. My mother has mastered it. She has draped bridal saris for people who aren't her kids. She pleats with one hand! She's THAT good. So I knew I needed her to pass down her wisdom and expertise before I embarked on this journey. If I want to take over her role someday as an expert sari-wearer, I had to learn every step perfectly.
This outing felt surprisingly normal.
This whole experience was incredible. I never wear anything fancy to the office, so donning pieces that were so flashy and elaborate forced me to find a new confidence in myself. Every time I made even a short trip to the kitchen, I felt like I was on a catwalk. I never slouched or hung my head, because I honestly felt like it would be a disservice to the sari. This experiment made me want to find ways to incorporate my culture into my daily "Western" style.
I felt so much pride this week. I don't often flaunt my culture or show off its many beautiful aspects. I know I shouldn't care, but I sometimes worry that people will mock me for it. But throughout this whole week, no one pointed or glared or laughed at me. No one said anything racist. Everyone had complete respect and curiosity that I was more than happy to indulge. I loved that I was able to not only parade my heritage, but share it with people too.
The best part of this week was how it brought me closer to my mother. She was so excited for this experiment, and so enthusiastic whenever I sent her a picture of myself in a sari. I know I didn't fully master the technique of draping and pleating. I have a long way to go. But seeing how proud she was of me for embracing our culture made me want to do this all over again.