“I was Teresa. That’s what society imposed on me,” says Teresa Ortega, a LA-based photographer and model. “When I started college and when I started dissecting and unlearning a lot of things that I was engrained with, growing up in this society…I rejected that. I said no, I’m Teresa.”
Despite being belittled for her Mexican name (and evidently, her culture), she started correcting those who pronounced her name wrong.
Some people mispronounce names with an attitude that feels almost micro-aggressive. In other words, if someone has a name that appears “foreign”, some people find it “weird” and mispronounce it with a sense of hostility.
Teresa wanted to take a stand and change the label of how her name was being pronounced. It was her way of reclaiming her identity.
Growing up in Los Angeles allowed her to notice that some communities try to denounce their identity because they feel as if they’re not accepted by society or accepted by themselves either. Communities that are under-represented feel small and some of it comes from internalization.
There’s a lot going on with the representation of Latin people in media because of what’s happening politically. Teresa believes that some cultures aren’t represented well in the media because some people don’t take the time to digest an identity that’s different than theirs.
Those cultures (the ones who are being pushed to the side) need to stick to their stereotypes, despite it all.
People wouldn’t expect you to do that. So the best thing you can do is to stay true to yourself. Don’t prove yourself to anyone. Stick with what you know culturally and how you identify. Be unapologetically yourself.
As for social media and the way you represent yourself online, demand peoples’ attention. Opportunities will present themselves as long as you demand attention to the authenticity of who you are. Make people pay attention to you and be proud of who you are.