I was never a Carrie.
Nor was I ever a Miranda, a Samantha, a Rachel, a Monica, a Summer, a Cordy, a Sookie, a Veronica or even a Liz Lemon (although I can relate to night cheese).
The women on television were merely that – women on television.
Growing up, I didn’t have on-screen role models.
If I wanted to see a dusky, doe-eyed dame, I had to resort to Bollywood…and I’m the girl least likely to twirl around on a mountaintop with some swarthy young suitor, coyly waiting for a kiss to be blown in my general direction.
Despite the fact that I grew up in a town where everyone looked like me, the people on the telly were mostly white, sometimes black and all my little dollies had blonde hair because they didn’t make Cabbage Patch Kids with tawny skin and dark brown eyes.
And this was the norm.
Twenty years later, The Office introduced Kelly Kapoor.
Initially a throwaway role intended to highlight Michael Scott’s racism, Kelly Kapoor grew into a much larger character and is responsible for some of the show’s funniest moments (watch any interaction between Kelly and Ryan).
And for the first time, there was a character on network television like me.
I’m not even talking about the implications of someone who looks like me (although, that is huge because fucking finally, right?) but at long last here was an Indian character who didn’t have a thick accent nor an advanced degree in engineering. An Indian character who wasn’t a spelling bee winner or a mathlete (no disrespect to math enthusiast/bad-ass MC Kevin Gnapoor). An Indian character who didn’t drive a cab or work at a 7/11.
There was an Indian character like me – someone who likes pink (the color), Pink (the singer) and basically anything that’s awesome. A smart girl who wasn’t a nebbish social misfit. Someone whose middle name was her father’s name and she hates it! She hates it!
The Office ended and Mindy Kaling went on to create, write and star in The Mindy Project – a sitcom where she plays a doctor, briefly dates Timothy Olyphant and names her bad-ass alter-ego, Beyonce Pad Thai.
Sista did it for herself.
And now, not only is there someone like me on television, but there’s someone in the public eye who is like me.
A curvy Indian woman who likes to play dress-up. .
An Indian female writer (who named her character ‘Mindy Lahiri’ after one of my favorite writers, Jhumpa Lahiri) who can opine about both Modern American literature and how the series would have been different had Neville Longbottom been The Chosen One.
Someone who consumes pop culture like popcorn and has probably had popcorn and wine for dinner more times than she can count.
Someone who fangirls the fuck out over a pair of glittery Jimmy Choos and the ridiculous jewelry at Forever 21 that turns your fingers green.
Mindy Kaling is totally the girl I’d most like to get dosas and gin cocktails with. Because Indian food is fucking delicious and I’m sure that both of our mothers probably made way better sambar.
Mindy Kaling is my long-awaited role model. Mindy Kaling is my homegirl. Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal.
And this isn’t just because she likes the same shit I do or because I can relate to being a curvy brown girl.
Mindy Kaling is my role model because she did it.
She grew up in the same era as me and instead of resigning herself to the fact that people like her aren’t represented in the media, she basically said, “Fuck that noise” and wrote her own damn fairytale.
And because of her – I’m not a Carrie or a Charlotte or some sniveling whiny little cry Buffy.
I’m a Mindy.
And that is fucking awesome.