I am beautiful. I have always been told so. But when I am being described, I am told I look “exotic” and “European”.
I am half Native American and half Caucasian. I look different from my family because of my tanned skin, my bold nose, my large lips, and my high cheek bones. So why is it that, when my Native American features are my most prominent accents, I am seen as “European” and “exotic”? The history of my people exclusively lies in Southern California. I, by definition, cannot be “exotic”. My people are not foreign, but because most people have rarely, if ever, encountered a Native American, I am seen as strange and unusual. My people have lived in this country before it was a county, yet I am seen as the foreign one.
People can find no terms to describe my beauty in anything less than Eurocentric ones. My Caucasian roots are so distant, diverse, and extensive that I cannot properly describe myself as “European”. I am not a myth, a caricature, or a fetish.
I am Native American. I am Cahuilla and Tejon. I am not “exotic” nor “European”. I am beautiful and ethnic. I am proud.