Is this what it feels like to feel absolutely beautiful? I look at my reflection in the mirror, studying every nook and cranny of my face, blushing slightly while everyone and everything in the room completely disappears. I see the mixture of love, sacrifices and ancestry it took to make me, Me. In that moment, I didn't want to be anybody in the world but me. I felt nothing but self-love and gratitude.
Photo: Courtesy of author
Photo: Courtesy of author
In my lifetime, I am going to break barriers. To change the stereotypes people think of when they see me — stereotypes of what a "perfect," "beautiful" or "powerful" woman looks like. I want other people with disabilities to see me and know that it is okay, to feel that it is okay, to believe that it is okay. To have a disability and just live

Society is hard on women. We are encouraged to be glamorous but down to earth, to always prioritize male feelings over our own. We are taught that if we dance, we must dance to appease men, and if we wear flattering clothes, it’s because we want attention. I dress how I do because I want my style to reflect my emotions and my personality. It's not for other people. I own my body. It is mine.
Photo: Courtesy of author
Photo: Courtesy of author
This is for my roots. For Brooklyn. For the Bay Area. For my family. For Afro-Latinas everywhere. The fire that burns inside of me burns inside all of us and can never be put out. We have survived and will continue to survive. We will build and continue to love and appreciate each other. We are glorious

“I love myself” is the Quietest. Simplest. Most powerful. Revolution. Ever.

shareherstory
Photo: Courtesy of author
This is for the people who send my body messages of prayer And think I openly receive it — I do not. “Believe in God and He will heal you!” they say. As if I wasn’t created with Grace for a purpose. They believe I would not choose this body, if given another chance

Oh, but how wrong they are: I worship my body and accept my disability. Neither are a burden to me. Glory to the twisted, the unbroken, the not mangled. Glory to those of us who know what it’s like to live with a disability and be thankful. I want to bring all of me to the forefront. I want to talk about being black, being Latina and being disabled. I want to talk about poverty and history and forgiveness. I want to talk about intersectionality, magic and injustice. May we continue to create a world where all of us can and will survive
Photo: Courtesy of author
Photo: Courtesy of author
Vogue
Photo: Courtesy of author
Photo: Courtesy of author
Photo-project credits: #ShareHerStory
Director: Hazel Streete, Her Resilience Photographers: Nicholas Lea Bruno, Nathan M. Benzschawel Model: Gigi Giscome'
Location: Ashkenaz, Berkeley CA Video: Qian Zhou, Daisy, Bo Yan, Vesna Zhou

Want more personal essays like this? Sign up for our daily newsletter!