“So what’re you going to wear tomorrow?” a friend asked me. Tomorrow was my school’s International Day, when students and teacher dress up in cultural clothing and we ate food from numerous countries.
“What do you mean? I suppose I’m going to wear what I wear everyday, jeans and a t-shirt.”
“But it’s International Day!” she said, surprised. “Aren’t you going to wear something from your culture? Like your shalwar kamiz, or an abaya, or even a sari?”
“I’m not so sure…I’ll think about it,” I lied. I knew full well that I wasn’t going to dress up.
No one wants to be the outcast in society, and if that means hiding cultural values and aspects, then many people will do it. To be honest, I didn’t dress up that International Day because I was anxious about wearing cultural clothing in public. I barely wear my cultural clothing at home because I’m not used to it – what would people think in public?
But there are many women out there who aren’t afraid to show their culture to the rest of the world. In fact, these celebrities embrace their heritage and help me feel proud of my roots, too.
Here are 5 inspiring women who are anything but diffident when it comes to portraying their heritage to the rest of the world.
1. Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o is the perfect person to convince us that Mexican-Kenyan women are absolutely stunning! She may be known for her acting skills and beauty, but she is also very faithful to both her Mexican and Kenyan cultures. She is fluent in both Spanish and Swahili and in 2014, she gave an inspiring speech on beauty of black women at the Essence Black Women In Hollywood luncheon in Beverly Hills.
She talked about her insecurities growing up as a black teenager, but said that her views changed when she saw South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek and her success. People from all over the world have also been inspired by Lupita. An unidentified little girl from Africa actually wrote a letter to Lupita in which she stated, “I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
Talk about inspiring!
2. Sofia Vergara
Sofia Vergara may be all over the media these days, but this Colombian beauty ensures that all the American fame doesn’t pull her heritage away from her. She plays the role of the mom on Modern Family, yet she chooses to keep her Colombian accent when she speaks. In her numerous appearances on The Ellen Degeneres Show, she admits how proud she is of Colombian coffee and that she refuses to drink any other coffee. And despite all the Hollywood stars naming their kids amusing names such as Blue Ivy Carter and North West, she decided to stick with a traditional Spanish name for her son, Manolo.
3. Shakira Mebarak
Born in Colombia, Shakira is the highest selling Colombian artist ever. She illustrates her love for the Spanish language in her numerous songs. But what many people don’t know is that Shakira is also half-Arabian. Her father is from Lebanon, and he used to take her Middle Eastern restaurants where she learned how to belly dance, a common dance with Arabic roots. Her astonishing dance moves prove how helpful those Arabic roots are.
Even her name, Shakira, is an Arabic name which means “grateful.” It’s so inspiring how she uses both heritages to make her life so beautiful, not to mention successful.
4. Zendaya Coleman
Zendaya, whose father is black and mother is white, created an uproar a few months ago when Giuliana Rancic made an unnecessary remark about Zendaya’s dreadlocks.
The African American Disney Channel star’s response was eloquent and empowering.
“There is already harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair,” she said. “My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”
What an incredible way to defend her heritage!
5. Dina Tokio
This gorgeous star may not be a celebrity, but that doesn’t stop her from being one of the most stylish bloggers out there. Dina Tokio is a half-British, half-Egyptian hijabi Blogger who is widely known for her videos on YouTube. One reason she is so inspiring is because she does not let her religion restrict her sense of fashion. Muslim women are required to dress very modestly, which unfortunately limits many things they are allowed to wear. However, this magical woman makes the best of both worlds by dressing both stylishly and modestly.
She totally slays in her hijab by wearing it in many fashionable ways that still covers her hair, also showing her devotion to religion. She takes dressing up both fun and elegant to a whole new level for all the hijabis out there.