The topic of representation has been in constant debate for the past few years. At university, I had lecturers getting out of their way to look for composers that just happened to be women to show them to us and also lecturers that would just say “well I tried but there were not any female composers who outshined the male ones in this period”. So how to know if you can actually belong to these places?
And then there are female writers…becoming a writer in a country worldwide recognised for their major white and male literature, such as the UK. There is no way that someone would not have Imposter Syndrome, right? I remember reading an article about how when Bernadine Evaristo had won the Booker Prize 2019, she could not believe that someone like her could win that. Bernadine is a Black British author and academic…she had already published successful books beforehand and she still felt it. That was her first reaction to the announcement, but then she started to question herself. Why not? Why cannot I be the one? Bernadine questioned her own unconscious bias to understand that yes, she can make it into places that are predominantly male and white.
Viola Davis, an American actress, said and I quote “you need to see the manifestation of your dream”. And when you see this manifestation, your imagination takes over and leads you to places that you could not even literally imagine before. Where you used to imagine “oh I want to publish a book”, it nows looks like “oh I could also be there on the list of the Booker Prize and more”. Because let me tell you something if no one has recently, your gender does not limit your capacity, intelligence, and your belief in yourself. But it is easily said than done.
So, we need to start introducing this ideas to our girls when they are little. It is beautiful and completely breath-taking seeing little girls identifying with Moana or seeing that the new Ariel is Black. Honestly, if you have not seen any videos online, quickly go through any digital platform. We need to show our younger girls that they can literally be anything that they want to be.
But now, I want to tell you about a more recent and personal experience. I am a Latin American writer in the UK and one day I hope to publish a book, but honestly it always sounded a bit mad in my head. But then in May 2023, I was going around Waterstones in Gower Street as I generally do, and I am used to seeing books maybe Latin American writers Paulo Coelho and Gabriel García Márquez. Nothing against those writers, I like them both very well. And yes, I get excited when I see them here, but it is not that often and generally there is only one book on the shelve. But this time around, something happened inside of me when I saw the name Gabriela Garcia in a Waterstones shelf. There it was…a debut novel by a female writer of Latin American heritage. I quietly ran towards it and grab it. But I was not just holding a book in my hands. I was holding the possibility of a dream coming through. At that moment, the possibilities and my imagination became greater than it has been ever.
Representation matters, diversity matters, feminism matters. So I just wanted to say that you should go out there and be the change you want to see. Become something even if you cannot imagine for now, but know that right now even if you do not have someone that looks like you where you are you can still do it. Take little steps. And be unapologetic, because we – people who identify as female – apologise too much for the simple fact of occupying a space or existing. And to leave you on a positive note, the world is changing, and it is becoming more and more accepting of women in different positions. And yes, there are those who are not happy about it…but hey, we do not do this for them. Go change the world, I hope you get to do whatever you want to do and live a free and loving life.
you can follow Ana Luiza here