‘Love Is Blind’ Star Deepti Vempati Opens Up About Dating As An Indian Woman: ‘I Always Ran From My Culture’

I used to literally want to run away from being Indian because I was bullied as a child for having a deeper skin tone and being overweight and merely desired to be a thin white girl. it could avoid the pressure to fit in and deal with the bullying in this way. I had the impression that I didn’t want to be myself in this body.

Since lighter skin is highly revered in India, where I was born, I have darker skin. My family relocated to the US when I was eight years old. It was difficult when I noticed that practically everyone had skin tones lighter than mine. I felt unwelcome and out of place. Even within my own family, members would warn me to avoid the sun because I was darker.

Because I was worried about being judged for the fragrance of my parent’s home-cooked meal, I coloured my hair, wore colored contacts, and even refrained from boarding the train with it. I would ask my mum to change if my friends came over and she was wearing an Indian outfit. Her reaction? Hell no, I’m not going to change for anybody. Even though I’ve failed to emulate it myself, I appreciate her confidence.

Now that I’m an adult, I find it hard to believe I ever fled such a lovely culture with such strong morals. However, the little things that kids would say, like how my meal smelled horrible, really affected me.

Deepti was 24 when she took this photo, back when she would dye her hair and wear eye-lightening color contacts.

I tried only dating white people because I was insecure about being Indian.

Since my first date occurred when I was still in college, I’ve felt like I’ve been settling. You know the proverb: You accept what you believe you deserve? I didn’t believe I deserved to ask for it from a partner because I had always been the pillar and rock for everyone else in my life.

We dated for about six years, and my most recent ex was white. Even though we shared a house, I kept it a secret from my parents the entire time. You don’t bring a guy home to an Indian family unless you are certain that he is “The One.”

I actually gave Dil Mil, an Indian dating app, a shot after we broke up. I made a real effort to link my parents with a member of my culture. After everything they have given up for my brothers and me, all I ever want to do is see them happy. It simply never worked out. It’s not like I was actively attempting to avoid Indian men. Indian men appealed to me as well. But because I had spent the majority of my life with white people, when I started dating, that is who I naturally gravitated toward.

Meeting Shake on Love Is Blind was a blessing in a way.

Once I learned that Shake was also Indian, there was an immediate connection. Given that we are both first-generation immigrants with incredibly supportive mothers, I understood that he was raised in the same manner as I was. We also discussed the outdated Indian customs that we didn’t like a lot. But it wasn’t only that he was Indian. We connected really well via shared interests, like music, for instance. He gave me the impression that I could clearly picture and understand how my life will be with him in the future.

It’s strange that in Indian homes, the wife often takes care of the husband, but in my family and Shake’s, our mothers are by far the more powerful figure than our fathers. Shake’s mom is awesome. She is very kind and solid, and she has always had my back. She defended me, even if it meant going against her son. My mother also taught me to never rely on a partner for financial support. She puts in 60 hours a week of work and enjoys it. She sets a wonderful example.

In that regard, Shake and I are quite similar, and despite the fact that our relationship ended, I believe I was meant to be in his life. He also frequently says that to me. He claims that as a result of me, he now has a new perspective, feels differently, and prefers substance to frivolity.

Love Is Blind challenged me to talk about sex and intimacy openly.

I observed this in my connection with Shake because it is so frowned upon in our society to do that. Did we truly go deep and have those crucial conversations about intimacy, despite the fact that we talked about physical things and how he was having problems with attraction? Not at all, no. Talking about that is so strange and awkward, and it undoubtedly stems from both of our upbringings.

Instead of being ashamed of my sexuality, I now have a really strong commitment to being considerably more open about it. On my newly discovered platform, I discuss sex and intimacy openly, and it doesn’t have to be embarrassing!

There’s a lot of our relationship that viewers didn’t get to see.

I had so much self-esteem and confidence before filming. I made the conscious decision to start approaching men with more courage after experiencing so much criticism about my appearance throughout my life, including comments about my weight and skin tone. When a guy I was crushing on responded positively to my “I like you” declaration, I thought, “Oh wait, that’s all it takes?”

It would have been a great and enjoyable lifestyle, and there was another white person in the pods with whom I was really connecting, but I was just more unsure of how it would pan out.

After seeing the show, I believe I was represented as a submissive, gung-ho lover. But I also didn’t have faith in Shake. Even if viewers can’t see it, I openly articulated several of my doubts and reservations.

I gradually came to realize that some of the things I liked about him from the pods were really a facade. And after we really spent some time together, I started noticing a lot of warning signs. When I moved in with Shake, I became aware of many characteristics I would have to compromise on if we were married. He was unable to respond when my family asked him what values he seeks for in a relationship, for example, when he first met them. He responded, “I’m going to have to take a day to think about it. That’s such a simple question.”

I came to the conclusion that this guy wasn’t meant to be in my life, especially as a husband, at the end of filming. Watching the broadcast again and hearing Shake talk about me when I wasn’t present was incredibly upsetting. I gave it my all and tried so hard, but nobody seemed to care.

Breaking off the engagement brought me and my mom closer.

My parents have always claimed that if I got married, they would feel more secure and at ease. That kind of traditional Indian thinking holds true: A woman’s life isn’t complete until she marries.

“I don’t need a person in my life to be strong.”

My mother always encouraged me to get married. But when Shake accepted that I don’t need a person in my life to be strong after I told her no at the altar, it was incredibly affirming. It was a turning point in our relationship, and to be honest, I believe she understood that Shake wasn’t meant to be in my life.

Being engaged to Shake meant embracing my culture as a part of my identity—and that won’t ever change.

Shake and I had a strong connection because of our similar cultural backgrounds. The deeper degree of closeness you can only really have with someone who grew up in the same culture as you would be so awesome if you could listen to Hindi music together.

I learned from this experience to love myself more and to stop worrying about what other people think. Shake had such a strong, unfavorable impression of me that I came to the conclusion, “F*ck that.” He taught me, in a strange manner, to never let another person tell me how I should feel about myself. What I think of myself and how much I’ve changed are the only things that matter.

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