Don’t look the part.Margarita Diaz
Play the part.
And the part will look like YOU.
Stereotypes and Representation
Representation is about presence without inviting an expectation that we symbolize others.
👀 You don’t “look” 40.
You ARE 40.
Now 40 also looks like you.
👀 You don’t “look” like a mathematician.
You ARE a mathematician.
Now mathematicians also look like you.
👀 You don’t “look” Latina.
You ARE Latina.
Now Latinas also look like you.
‼️ We don’t represent a group by being representative of that group.
‼️ We represent a group by being ourselves, which contributes to the emerging and expanding image of that group.
⚠️ But this isn’t always how people talk about representation.
As a Latina myself, I’ll use Latina representation as an example.
I often see praise for “Latinas representing Latinas.”
❗️Now, if one or a few of us are to represent the whole of Latinidad in any setting, we risk inviting stereotyping.
”What? We don’t all look and sound like Sofia Vergara?”
I’m not here to represent Latinas anywhere.
I don’t represent Latinas in whatever room I walk into.
I represent ME.
❗️And by being, sounding and looking like me, I just contributed to YOUR conception of what a Latina might look like.
🙅🏻♀️ We are also not Latina doctors, Latina engineers, Latina entrepreneurs, Latina lawyers, Latina writers, Latina professionals, etc. UNLESS our work focuses on issues specific to Latinas.
✅ We ARE doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, writers, professionals, etc. AND Latinas.
✅ And we are contributing to defining and expanding the images of what ALL those industries look like, just by showing up as ourselves.
▪️That’s thinking beyond spaces for like to find like;
▪️beyond spaces for Latinas to seek out other Latinas;
▪️beyond promoting the very separateness we criticize when it DOESN’T include us.
▪️THAT’S thinking big.
Big enough to break stereotypes.
And big enough to make representation matter.
👀 We don’t “look like” something.
👀 We contribute to defining what “it” looks like, one person at a time.
❓Have you been told you don’t “look like” or “act like” something?
❓Do you feel an expectation or desire to “represent” for a particular social group?