Shoghufa (23) was born and raised in the Netherlands. She has Afghan parents and is the 2nd generation living here. Studies at the HKU and lives in Leiden. Has an open mind to others when they tell their opinions and stories.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
Strict, but not in my eyes. They are difficult about certain subjects, but I am quite free in how I dress, what I study or want to do and achieve with my life.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
Mental health, I have depression and go to a psychologist for that. But it was very difficult to bring that up with my parents, because they don’t believe in it themselves. They think you must have been through something very bad to be depressed. At the moment they have accepted it, but it still feels like a taboo when they tell others.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
Not before, because I was bullied badly because of my small eyes and sometimes it felt very different to see Afghans who didn’t even look like me. The older I got, the more I accepted myself. And I’m not afraid to tell you what my origin is.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Yes, when I was little. I was bullied severely and had no other Asian children in my class which quickly left me feeling alone. My eyes were really something I was ashamed of then, but now my eyes are the most beautiful part of my face I think.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
Not really, I saw a few Asian people on the street, TV and shops. So I didn’t really have a role model until I got older myself and my world got bigger too. There was a time when I had a Chinese neighbor that my family and I were very close to. Feel that she was unconsciously my role model at that time, because she had such a big heart and was always with us in my youth.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
Honestly, in my youth there was so little to nothing to see. I think it has really come up in the last few years. And about Afghans specifically, I’ve only seen things that have nothing to do with Afghans today. We are so diverse and different, but so often get to see the image of desert on TV when they talk about it. In my view that can be done much better, because many do not know that I am Afghan myself until I say so. And they don’t even see that coming.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
Always, until this day. It doesn’t bother me much now, but it used to make me sad. Because I wasn’t Chinese but I couldn’t explain that I was Afghan either, because many in my youth didn’t even know it was a country or where it was located. I also had little knowledge at that time, so the frustration gave me a lot of stress and inability to defend myself.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
Smart, black hair, glasses and always listens to others. This is mainly due to movies/tv and also the way many have grown up. We had to keep quiet when someone said something mean and be polite.
What stereotypes and comments have you heard about your appearance? Do you identify with that too? How do you see yourself compared to how others see you? What do you feel and how do you feel when people make such comments?
I haven’t really gotten many comments other than having small eyes and being joked about when I was little. I have not had any further comments, at least not that anything has been left behind.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
If I have an appointment I plan 3 hours for my makeup, because sometimes there are days when my eyeliner doesn’t work and I stand in front of the mirror like a fool :’)
In Asian culture, it is normal as a woman to get married as soon as possible, have children, and become a housewife. Because when you have a husband, you have children, you have “made” it in life. How do you see it?
This is very true, I often hear this from my mother. But I don’t want children and I don’t want to get married. I think this way of thinking is old-fashioned, there are plenty of women who have made it in their lives, even without a husband or children. It is important that they can choose for themselves and be happy in that choice. Because if you are married and have children, but not happy then in my eyes you have not made it.
What do you want to give to the readers?
That Asian culture is more than just the stereotypes we know. There are so many countries in Asia and each country is different from each other and its people. But not only to the west but also among Asians themselves.
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