Expectations in Arrangements
The perfect word to describe the out-of-control household is complete chaos. Everyone focuses on who they hope will be the next bride of the family. She stands in the center of the room as her family puts flowers in her hair, perfects her make-up and makes sure she’s exactly what the groom’s family is looking for.
This is a common situation in Pakistani and Indian culture. As the bride comes of age, her family prepares her for her arranged marriage. Since completely arranged marriages have become uncommon in modern culture, several families allow the future bride and groom to meet, interact and even fall in love before marriage.
Out of all the times they will meet, interact and hopefully fall madly in love with each other, the first meeting is always the most significant. Everyone in the household works to prepare the future bride, helping her look her best.
Some girls dread this day while other girls anxiously await it. Some girls want to fall in love, while other girls couldn’t imagine not trusting their parents judgement. Everyone has a different outlook on the concept of arranged marriage, but that’s not what i’m here to talk about today.
I’m talking about the girls who with all their heart desire to find the man of their dreams. The girls who spend hours in the mirror perfecting their make-up and the girls who sadly, get rejected. I’m talking about the girl my mom feared I would become, and the girl several of my family members hate feeling like.
Physical beauty. Long hair. Curves. Cooking to die for. In my culture, so many expectations are set for future brides. Females who carry the ideal set of characteristics are easily matched up with little effort. On the other hand, females who I know would make wonderful wives are left alone, because in the eye’s of the culture, they’re lacking something.
My beautiful twenty-seven-year-old cousin has been searching for “the one” for years. Like me, she has lost all of her hair to Alopecia, an autoimmune hair loss condition. Because of this, she has been rejected several times, leaving her with an almost non-existent self-worth.
Personally, I couldn’t be more upset by this. Although I believe in love marriage and know that someday my prince charming will sweep me off my feet, girls looking for an arranged marriage are often rejected before the couple even gets to meet. My cousin, for example, has been rejected over the phone several times after the grooms family learns she has no hair. She doesn’t even get a chance to meet with the guy, to talk to him, to get to know him. All of these opportunities are taken away from her because she doesn’t meet the pre-existing image several families carry in their heads.
This has to change. How long will these beautiful girls continue to get rejected because they don’t fit the mold the culture builds? It breaks my heart to know that girls within our culture constantly face discrimination, leaving them with a low self-image they do NOT deserve. It’s time to start creating a change in the culture… And that’s exactly what I hope to do.
I know I can’t change the world, or find my cousin the husband she deserves, or change the way the Indian/Pakistani culture views beauty… But what I can do is dare to stand out. I can share my story, and show members of the culture that differences are strengths, not weaknesses. Most of all, I can remain confident and spread that confidence to others. Because I KNOW one day someone will walk into my cousins home, notice her radiance, her confidence, her grace, her beauty inside and out and sweep her off her feet.
My names Sanah Jivani and I love writing, public speaking and chocolate ice-cream. My biggest goal in life is to make a difference through my International Natural Day movement, or any other way I can. I believe that every person has the power to make a difference, and I just hope I'm able to use my power. I never let a second go to waste, and I'm trying to make the best of every beautiful moment I've been blessed with!