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September 15th – October 15th marks Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. 

One of my favorite times of the year. 

However, putting together this list showed me how little representation there is for Hispanic/Latina women in our history. There are many stories yet to be heard, shown, and shared. 

Regardless, I am thankful I’ve grown up in a time where Hispanic/Latina women are trailblazers. These women below have impacted me as a young Latina woman, in their own way. While this list does not reflect all the Hispanic/Latina women who have inspired me, this list shows those who shaped me into who I am today.

Selena Quintanilla  

I have always known about Selena. 

Whether it was listening to her music or watching clips of her performances, I was captivated by her joy and her beauty. Once I got older, I learned about her story. When I learned she was not a fluent Spanish speaker, I felt seen. I grew up in a Mexican-American household, but can’t speak fluent Spanish. While you don’t have to speak Spanish to be Hispanic/Latina, it’s one of the main ways you can connect to your culture. Selena showed me you don’t need to speak the language to be a part of the Hispanic/Latino community. Selena is known as “The Queen of Tejano Music” though she wasn’t fluent. Her courage and passion showed me that even if I can’t speak the language, I can still connect with my culture.

Laurie Herandez

I am a big gymnastics fan especially, during the Olympics. 

When the 2016 Rio Olympics rolled around, I was excited to see who was made the team. There was one girl who stood out to me, and that was Laurie Herandez. She is an amazing gymnast who has such a charismatic personality. When I learned of her Puerto Rican descent, my admiration for her grew even more. It was incredibly inspiring to see a young Latina, only two years older than me, win big for Team USA. Since then, she has continued to make a path for herself. Laurie showed me how Latina women are strong, talented, and athletic. She also showed me it is never too early to make your mark on the world. 

Frida Kahlo

Ah, the legend herself.

From an early age, my parents taught my sisters and me to have respect for the arts. One Mexican artist my parents taught us about was Frida Kahlo. Her paintings are unique in the way they share emotions of beauty and pain. Like her paintings, she was unique in the way she looked. Some people found her unibrow unattractive but I found it beautiful. Latinas in general grow hair fast. This includes arm hair and eyebrow hair. When I was young, I always disliked my body hair because it was too dark and noticeable. But, when I came to see pictures of Frida Kahlo, I felt empowered. Instead of shaving it, she wore it with pride. She showed me that everything that makes me Latina, including having a lot of hair, is beautiful. 

Selena Gomez

My girl, Selena.

Selena Gomez has been my number one inspiration. Her music, kind personality, and servant’s heart constantly inspire me. Watching Wizards of Waverly Place when I was a little excited since, like Alex, I was still learning about my culture. There was one particular episode, I had on constant repeat: Quinceañera (Season 1, Episode 20). This episode was special to me since it showed something extremely important in my culture. Though I never had a “traditional” quinceañera, I always loved the idea of having a huge celebration to mark your transition from childhood to adulthood. Throughout the years, Selena continues to show me how I can represent my culture in big ways. She inspires me to be proud of my Hispanic roots in whatever way that may look like. 

What I love about being Hispanic/Latina is we are so diverse. We’ve had different experiences that have shaped us into who we are. There is not one thing that constitutes someone as being Hispanic/ Latina.  

I am proud to be a Hispanic/Latina woman because my culture is rooted in tradition, family, empowerment, and unconditional love.

Monica Nieto is a Strategic Communications major with a Spanish and Sociology minor at Texas Christian University. She is an enneagram 4, Hufflepuff, and ENFP who loves to spend quality time with her family and friends. Some of her passions include her faith, all things Disney, and trying out new coffee shops!
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