As women, we are constantly being judged and judging ourselves based on appearance. Growing up in the Bay Area, I was surrounded by beautiful women of different races, shapes, and cultures. Yet, it wasn’t something that I saw reflected in our media or in the interests of young men my age. The women in ads or on TV were Caucasian with thin straight noses, light skin and high cheekbones. Even if the woman was African American or Latina, she possessed a “white” quality such as green eyes or light skin.
Being biracial, I already struggled with race and appearance in different ways. My features reflect my Salvadorian heritage but my household spoke english and my mother is light haired and Irish. Wherever I went I was treated and expected to act “Latina”. During that time, I felt like the “Latina” stereotype of fiery, passionate sexuality didn’t fit with me but it was a way to receive attention and feel attractive.
After I got older, I began to work on a healing project. I decided to photograph my friends who were beautiful, but whose features didn’t match with our media’s standards of beauty.
Looking through the viewfinder I didn’t see these young women as friends. They became stunning strangers who’d caught my eye. I started to think of the mirror as my viewfinder, and saw the beauty in myself.