This Week's Teen Flaunt: Melina Explores Her Cultural Identity

I-have-cherry-picked-theIn a previous blog post, Roxanne reflected on coming to terms with her cultural identity. Despite feeling like she stood out from her Caucasian classmates, she finally found self-acceptance when she realized they really are similar and their differences were only skin-deep. In this week's Teen Flaunt, there's also a theme of cultural identity. Melina Stone opens her essay with a confession:

I was the secret result of an affair. My father cheated on his wife with my mother and left us behind while he raised his real family. I think he was embarrassed for bringing shame to his family by means of adultery, so I was kept a secret for about 12 years. Not knowing one of your biological parents is like not knowing a part of yourself.

For this reason, the 18-year-old spent many years hiding her Hispanic heritage. She instead chose to blend in with her surroundings, as she puts it, by adapting to her family's European-American identity. She came from a town with little diversity, and chose not to stand out.

Eventually this changed as she got to know her biological father better. But it wasn't an easy process. She writes,

When I learned that he had waited until then to tell his family that I existed, my heart was broken. I felt ashamed, as though there were something wrong with me. I still do not think I have fully recovered from that wound. Regardless, by the time I was 13 I went to move in with him.

Luckily, despite the rocky start, things have significantly improved. Melina has bonded with her paternal side of the family, including forming a strong relationship with her grandparents, especially her grandpa who she calls her Papa. He's helped her become proud of her Hispanic heritage by sharing stories of his time in Mexico with her. She's finally found a balance, explaining,

For a while, I felt as though I had to maintain two different cultural identities depending on which family I was with. This ended up making me more aware of the differences between the two groups, including the positives and negatives associated with them. At this point in my life, I have cherry picked the qualities that I admire the most from both cultures, and combined them to create my personal cultural identity. They both play a role in who I am today.

To read the full story of Melina exploring and embracing her cultural identity, head to the Teen Flaunt site. And for even more Teen Flaunts that we love, check out these stories:

If you would like to have your teenager or student (age 13-18) write a “Teen Flaunt” that could potentially be published on the Teen Flaunt page, please submit the proposed essay (no longer than 700 words) to: meg@megzucker.com.

P.S. Did you know there’s a health and well-being magazine for teens that features inspiring stories every month? Learn more about Choices here, and check out our past pieces about Ashlyn, who feels no pain, and Georgia, who was born deaf.