Roopa Weber: Fostering Self-Confidence Through Literature


By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar

Self-confidence in children is their armor against the world and day-to-day challenges, and while many of us masalamommas do what we can to instill a healthy dose of it in our kids, it’s always great when you can share the idea through story-telling.

Roopa Weber, Author, Messy Penny®

Roopa Weber, Author, Messy Penny®

Roopa Weber remembers her mom playing a big role in doing just that. She is a first-time published author who has written, Messy Penny a children’s book that highlights self-confidence.
“My inspiration for Penny came from the values and love provided by my mother. I wanted to find an avenue to instill my mother’s wisdom in my own daughter and carry the message forward generationally.” And, so she wrote.
Weber says, Messy Penny was created to foster self-esteem in children of all ages. The main character is a lovable peacock who through her adventures realizes that the simple things in life are the ones to treasure the most. Penny wakes up with excitement only to be disappointed when she does not look beautiful-her hair is a mess, her feathers are all rumpled, and her face is missing that special glow.  
When Penny focuses on all of the simple pleasures in her life, her happiness and beauty radiate,” said Weber.  ”Her friends look beyond her messiness and see her glow and the beauty that lies within her. Penny is loved and appreciated for who she is and what she looks like, messiness and all.”
 A GoodReads review also goes on to say, “It is a wonderful lesson for children to look at the inside and not on the outside like what a child is wearing, fancy shoes or expensive clothes but if a child is nice and respectful.”
As a first-time children’s author, Weber says writing the book was a personal journey as well.
Photo: Courtesy Messy Penny®

Photo: Courtesy Messy Penny®

“I wrote Messy Penny when my daughter was 2 years old and the story sat there for a while before I did something with it. Although the book was written in honor of my own mother and daughter, it was my mother in-law who encouraged me to do something more with the story,” said Weber.
“I luckily found an incredible illustrator and the synergies between us were amazing. I believe when you are on the right path, the universe opens up to make things happen. The courage to embark on any journey lies in following your dreams and not worrying about what will be. A friend advised me that if something is really good, it will find its way into the world.”
Weber says her own mother has always been a source of inspiration when it comes to her writing and the woman she is today.
“My mother always encouraged the right behavior. She was strict, but only brought love and support into our relationship. I am grateful for the simple things she taught me – to be kind, to be happy, to respect myself and have respect and to make the best out of everything. Those values can be taught in childhood and are invaluable gifts in adulthood.”
Photo: Courtesy Messy Penny®

Photo: Courtesy Messy Penny®

Does she think South Asian women today are more confident than our mothers?   
“I think Indian women are more confident because of the progress we have made (though we still have a ways to go). We have opportunities that were not available when my mother was young – education, careers, hobbies, etc.”
Roopa also says she feels women of today may have lost some of the values of our Indian culture.
“The values in the Indian culture are deeply rooted in honor, respect, duty, hard work and gratitude. I feel we have lost some of these basic values. The challenge is to preserve them in a changing society that rewards superficiality,” said Weber.
“The balance of motherhood and career will be an ongoing struggle. We are more stretched and life has gotten more complicated so the best way to combat the push and pull is to keep things simple. Don’t commit to more than you can handle, don’t buy more than you need, value people, not things, value education and be appreciative for the sacrifices that came before us.”

 So how does she balance culture and motherhood as a mom today?

“I try not to focus on expectations. If you live your life with kindness and genuine intentions, anything that is expected will be achieved,” said Weber. “The balance in my life is created by following my instincts and having a supportive family and community. None of us can do it alone so it is important to be honest with what you can do given the resources you have. If you invite support, follow your heart, have integrity and the right motives, serve as a good example, exude confidence and maturity, and provide love, good things will follow.”
Photo: Courtesy Messy Penny®

Photo: Courtesy Messy Penny®

Messy Penny‘s mission in fostering self-confidence touches on ‘true beauty’ something that young South Asian women still get mixed messages on. Roopa believes mothers have a responsibility to cut through these messages for our children.

“We all need to be more accepting, and I think true beauty comes in many forms. To me, the most beautiful women are those that have confidence coupled with humility,” said Weber. “Keep working on yourself and surround yourself with people who will elevate you. People who want the best for you can change how you feel about yourself and see the world. When you have positive influences, beauty radiates from unexpected places.”
You can buy and review Messy Penny on at: 
Follow Roopa on Twitter at: @RoopaWeber
Follow updates on Messy Penny on Facebook here:

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  1. Sanober

    Confidence and humility…great advice! Sounds like penny the peacock has valuable lessons to teach not just to the child but to the mama reading out loud as well! Looking forward to checking it out for my own daughter 🙂

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