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Celebrate your heritage

Facing our faces

Sometimes girls think their unique traits make them too different or uncool. Do you feel that way? Check out a speech by Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o on learning to love our looks — and ourselves.

Is your mom from Kenya? Did your dad grow up on a farm? Knowing about where you come from can give you a great sense of belonging and support. Connecting with the cool things in your background can help boost your self-esteem. Plus, family traditions can be just plain fun!

Consider sharing what you know about your heritage with others. Also, be open to learning about other people's ethnic or cultural backgrounds. Appreciating others is a big part of what makes a community (and our country) great.

Read what real girls say about their unique identities. Then keep reading below to learn ways to connect with your background.

Nigerian girl Victoria. My family's heritage is Nigerian. Our tradition is definitely dancing. We love to dance. We dance at parties or when we visit people's houses. The vibrant music and colors in our dresses make me want to discover more about my family. We also love to make food like rice, tofu, and puffy, very tasty treats we snack on.
— Victoria

Irish girl Kassie. My family has come from many places. My great-great-grandmother came from Ireland. My great-grandfather came from Nicaragua. I know some of my family came here from England and Denmark. I also know there is some Native American and Mayan ancestry somewhere mixed in. Also, I know that I am related to two presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. My grandfather on my mom's side came from Canada, which is all we know about him since he died when my mom was about 10.
— Kassie
Welsh girl Ashley.Who am I? I am Ashley. I have cerebral palsy and my family comes from Wales and Iran. I like who I am. I am in a wheelchair, but my friends don't see me as different. I guess because we are friends and are all Americans.
— Ashley

Thai girl Melissa. My family comes from Laos and Thailand. I am Hmong. It's not a very known culture, but it's very fun!
— Melissa

Indian girl Sarika. My family came from Africa and India. I can speak Sindhi, which is a main language in India. My family is beautiful.
— Sarika

Mexican girl Adelina. My ethnic identity is Mexican. I was born and raised there for 11 years. I'm proud to be a Latina, because we are very optimistic and we like to work hard in order to get what we want. Every girl in the whole world is unique in their own way by their race, cultures, likes and dislikes, looks and qualities. But one thing that we all have in common is that we are all especial, no matter what.
— Adelina
Nigerian girl Amadara. I am part Nigerian (African) and part Colville Native American. I love that I'm from a different mix of cultures! It's really cool! I take pride in my family background. I have many relatives and it's very cool to learn about both my heritages.
— Amadara

Creole girl Cicely. My family is a mixture of African-American, Native American, and French. I live in Louisiana and think of myself as Creole. We have cool food, music, and Mardi Gras!
— Cicely

Alaskan girl Mackenzie. I have so much heritage: I'm Irish, German, Blackfeet Indian, Aleut, Canadian, and Russian. Since I live in Alaska, I also get to see a lot of the Alaskan heritage of the Eskimo people here. Most people think that we live in igloos and have to hunt our food, but really, we live in houses and have skyscrapers and malls just like you do.
— Mackenzie
Swedish girl Molly. I like my ethnic identity in that I am half Irish and half Swedish. I get my Swedish from my mom's side, and then the Irish is my dad's. I like knowing what I am. It makes me feel really good. I love being Irish because I feel that Irish people were very strong people because of what they had to go through. I also think that no matter what you are, you are special in your own way!
— Molly

Want to learn more about your background? Try these tips:

  • Interview a family member.
  • Go to a local event celebrating your culture.
  • Research your cultural background on the Internet or at the library.
  • See if you can learn more about your last name.
  • Read a book about your culture.
  • Find details about your ancestors through resources like government records. (Work with a relative to help make this easier or just more fun.)

— Tips adapted from "Bright Futures," U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration


Content last reviewed January 07, 2015
Page last updated March 16, 2015