Age 21, She / Her | Alberta, Canada
"I am a Peruvian-Canadian woman, and have lived in Alberta my whole life. I grew up in communities where whiteness was the norm and being different meant being lesser.
I learned to hide my Peruvian heritage from a young age, as I was constantly bullied for my ‘weird’ school lunches, ‘funny’ clothes, and tendency to speak in Spanish. Being half White meant that I could still fit in with a little effort, but I still felt like an outsider. And fitting in came with a cost.
Speaking Spanish was a way for me to stay connected with my family back in Peru, but as I spent more time hiding my Spanish, I began to lose it. At the time when I created this piece, I was attempting to reaffirm my identity as a Peruvian and relearn my mother tongue, but I could only remember a handful of words and phrases.
This self-portrait represents the emptiness and shame I felt at abandoning my heritage, and sparked my desire to reconnect with my roots. I have grown a lot since that point, but I am still on a journey to relearn my Spanish and accept my full identity.