It’s the perfect time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo! With the styling of a photoshoot by two of the amazing make-up artists I work with, I got to thinking about my heritage. One thing is for sure: I am so proud to be Mexican. That always hasn’t been the case. Growing up was not easy. My mom was a single parent and had to work three jobs to provide a roof over our head, put food on the table, and clothe myself, and my brother and sister. I was the oldest, so I had to take care of my siblings all the time. If they got in trouble, I was in trouble. If they didn’t eat, I was in trouble. I was my mama’s right hand. As you can imagine, I resented the role for quite a long time.
We grew up in the housing projects for low-income families, and I walked to school which was near by. I know my mom did the best she could to provide us with extra curricular activities. I still got to go to dance school, and played the occasional sport here and there, and the one thing she instilled in me most was the value of education. She would always ask me if I wanted to work in the fields like she did; And I would say “heck, no!”. She would go on to tell me to study and get good grades. Because of this, she thought going to the high school across town, the other side of the tracks if you will, would be a better option for me and my siblings. She was able to obtain an address in that district and just like that we went to Kamiakin High School.
Kamiakin High School was predominately all Caucasian with just a few minority students. Most of the students there came from a household of two parents and the means to live an upper to middle class lifestyle, which in my eyes, meant that they were “rich”. I remember not feeling like I fit in because of the color of my skin, my social status and not having any money. I never once was bullied or called any names because I did a really good job to “blend” in. All through high school, I wanted desperately to fit in. I became embarrassed of my mom because she didn’t speak proper English, and had these traditions that weren’t “American”. I even changed the pronunciation of my name to sound like Alesha but with a G in the front is what I would tell people. I was so busy trying to feel accepted that I threw my beautiful and rich heritage to the wayside.
I wish at the time, that I would have embraced my heritage like I do today. It is because of my heritage and the values that my mom instilled in me, that I am the person I am today. She taught me to work for what I want, to get an education and to value my family. She taught me to celebrate where our ancestors came from and to be proud to be Mexican. As for my name, one day she told me that she didn’t name me “Galesha”! She named me Galicia (pronounced Ga-lee-see-a). Which, I may add, sounds way prettier. So now if said incorrectly, I tell them.
So this Cinco de Mayo, embrace where your ancestors came from (even if it wasn’t from Mexico). Celebrate who you are because everyone else is taken. Don’t waste your time trying to be someone you’re not.
I’m honored that I got to be part of this photo shoot. In so many ways, I wanted to capture the essence of being a strong Mexican, beautiful woman. I think it totally worked!
A huge thank you to Connie Delamora & Anais Valdez. They are the amazingly talented Make-up artists who stylized this “Cinco De Mayo” shoot.