August 14, 2021
If you were a Brown kid with an accent attending middle school in suburban Wisconsin, well, that just added some extra stuff to make you really stick out. Everything I lived and everything I saw — from Bend It Like Beckham to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham — made me believe that my Indian identity was always going to be at odds with my American one. Everything felt like an awkward culture clash. My bootleg Converse hightops I picked up from Fashion Street one summer in Mumbai were embarrassing. The days I went to school with hair smelling like Dabur amla oil were embarrassing. The pieced together “lehenga” I wore for sixth grade school picture day, complete with a 10-pound gold tulle skirt from Ross Dress for Less, was embarrassing.
So when I watched Disney’s latest original movie Spin — the first to feature an Indian American girl as the lead, and one where teenagers seem to suffer no embarrassment whatsoever — I felt a flood of conflicting emotions.