Since the beginning of time it seems that talking about things that you do not know of is a no-no... and I do not mean simply having book knowledge, I'm talking first hand experiences. This month as we've focused on Hispanic culture on the site, I thought about how I could contribute since I've never had the chance to be close to a person of Latino/Hispanic background— not by choice, as there aren't many Latino/Hispanic people in my hometown. Regardless of what my environment physically did or didn't provide me with, I've grown up to be someone who loves to dive into other cultures... at the end of the day culture has the ability to connect all of us if only we are open to understanding it and it's history. 

As I worked on my piece for September, three game changing women who have literally impacted my life and my perception of what womanhood for brown females should be came to mind. These three women have challenged me to be fearless when it comes to how I love myself, love others and express that love…. And for those reasons I feel its only right I pay homage to the culture from which these women came from.



(My giiiiiirrllll right here): I love me some Gina y’all! And have loved her since season 1 of ‘Jane the Virgin’ (for my non-watchers we are now awaiting Season 4… but it’s never too late to binge watch on Netflix! In fact I encourage it!). But beyond her on-screen character Jane, Gina to me represents what loving yourself should look like… to be yourself in all of its complexities and dualities and to THRIVE with it.  Rodriguez screams duality as she bounces from sexy, sweet, fierce, and chill….*cues Whitney Houston’s rendition of 'I’m every woman'* each and every time I see her on my Instagram feed... because she truly is every woman! And her transparency is second to none! I don’t know about y’all MOB but I find it crazy encouraging when bossed up women pay homage to their peers as well as those who have paved the way. I find it encouraging when women that we may perceive to be ‘flawless’ ( because although we know this isn’t the truth, sometimes we still buy into the illusion) shamelessly talk about their fears.

Gina posted a video, where she is casually existing in her space—and in her caption she revealed a truth that blew me out of the WATER!!!!  And I quote below:

“...Bare and exposed in the streets of LA. No makeup. No styling. Just me. I suffer from anxiety. And watching this clip I could see how anxious I was but I empathize with myself. I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail. I like watching this video. It makes me uncomfortable but there is a freedom I feel maybe even an acceptance. This is me. Puro Gina.”

AND THIS RIGHT HERE LADIES…. is why Gina is my inspiration for self-care and acceptance. Not only was she honest but she was also fierce in sharing a very personal thing about her... because we all know to own your truths is horrific at times, especially when the platform you stand on isn’t always celebrating your complete self. Also, her #movementmondays has high-ligthed & introduced me to so many women who are movers and shakers within the Latina community (although she posts women of other cultures she definitely holds it down for her own and has challenged me to dig into my own culture, and acquaint myself with Black women that are regulating with or without notoriety). BIG LOVE AND WARMTH to Gina, she brings light to my IG feed every day.



The mother of social, political, and internal self expression. Now, growing up I always wondered how unbound she must’ve been to rock her uni-brow when I desperately wanted my mother to allow me to shave my own. I mean, how BOLD must she had been, right? Because reality is women just weren’t as free as she was during her time. She was her own kind of beautiful, no time for others opinions. I can only hope my generation reaches the level of comfort that she had with herself. As a younger writer, I cling to artists that are RAW with themselves and completely transparent in their work. Such as she was. MY FAVORITE FEMINIST ARTIST… a warrior for women far before her time and long after…. LIVE ON KAHLO!



Now I should first say that I’ve had an undying love for her since I first stumbled across the movie more than 14 years ago, and although I was only 7/8  years old at the time I knew that I had watched something that had changed me. So much so, that the remainder of my childhood gifts were spent buying albums and DVD’s of music videos from her catalog.

If I had to credit it to one thing I’d say it was her radiance that drew me in. It made me want to learn the art of being poised (because such is an art form). There’s not a single picture of the late Queen that doesn’t exhibit her optimism and beauty… you know why? Because her aura leaked radiance and her spirit glowed… she was pure ya'll — authentic in all that she chose to do in her short life. 

She too represents what it means to live in your light. From her sense of fashion— that always highlighted her incredible body! To her ambition. Her life has always encouraged me to really DREAM BIG for myself and to fight for those dreams NO MATTER the cost. “Scared money don’t make no money” — Selena was a risk taker who betted on herself and her talent (and the love that her family had for her, s/o to her support system for having her back) and who continues to encourage those that are still loving and missing her today.

I'm happy that through my own journey I've sought to learn more about a culture that impacts us on a global level. And I'm grateful that these women have and continue to introduce me to the many reasons why I'm proud to stand for my Latino/Hispanic sisters. 

Bri'on is a TGM contributor out of Ohio.

follow her @littlewhiteside