Latina, Dominican, daughter, sister, girlfriend and female are all the identities I hold up until now. My experiences throughout the years are what have shaped my understanding of gender and identity. Starting from the early ages of elementary school, my mom would always dress me up all pretty and do my hair with a different girly hairstyle everyday. I was taught by my parents that girls are supposed to be fragile and pretty. Strong but not too strong. I was not allowed to play sports because I could fall and break something. Sports were mostly for boys. It was not until I went to middle school where I started to realize my parents were not always right. Now I consider myself a feminist who believes no person should need labels because all humans should be equal.
As a Latina growing up in a heavily white populated town one can imagine the pressures and all the anxiety I had deal with. I always felt the need to straighten my hair so that I could look like the girls I went to school with. Adolescent me believed no one would want to be my friend if I exerted my authentic self which is a confident, strong and intelligent Latina. The pressure to also talk like the girls in my class and be interested in the same things they were like; wearing makeup and dressing up for school everyday. I tried so hard for so long but that was not enough, I was still looked at and treated differently because I am Latina and my parents did not have the money to buy me everything I wanted.
Although now that I am in college, I encounter plenty of girls that are like me. Girls with curly long hair and whose parents are too closed minded to understand the struggles we might face as Latina women. Being judged because of my financial status and how I look and not being taken seriously because I am a female. As a woman I am constantly being undermined for reasons I still cannot understand. However, now that I am older and have a better comprehension of who I am as a person I know that my idea of my own gender and identity has highly improved. My gender and identity is a strong female who does not need to act or look a certain way to be accepted and feel good about herself. I do not need to straighten and ruin my hair or wear pounds of makeup on my face. I do not need to act a certain way because I am me and even though I am still a work in progress, I am learning that being authentic and unapologetically who I really am is pretty darn great. I am perfectly imperfect.