International Day of the Girl: Meet Bela Sanchez

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"She doesn't belong to anyone, and I think that's the most divine thing about her. She's found love within herself, and she's complete alone."

I saw this quote the other day, and it made me immediately think of Bela Sanchez. Because I don't know many juniors in high school who are unafraid of vulnerability, steadfast in their beliefs and willing to stand up for themselves and what they believe in. She's someone who's recognized that she is a powerful woman, worthy of love, deserving of respect and capable of being a force to be reckoned with.

You may have already heard about Bela through my 15 Young People That Are Killing It Post. If not, I'm more than happy to reintroduce her. 

Teenagers are often criticized for being self absorbed and indifferent about social issues that are prevalent in society. This is not the case at all when it comes to Bela. When Bela's not going on adventures with her best friends, writing blog posts or throwing kindness around like confetti, she's a voice for the voiceless. There's never going to be the "right time" to talk about feminism or racial discrimination or various issues that affect millions of people each day, so Bela keeps the conversation going all year. 

Bela also loves people where they're at, including herself. She recognizes that everyone has room to grow and learn, and I've had the privilege of watching Bela constantly transform into a better version of herself. Her open mind and open heart are always ready to learn something new and welcome new people into her life. With her loving heart and brilliant mind, I won't be surprised when Bela conquers the world one day.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Bela Sanchez ↳ sixteen ↳ she/her ↳ hispanic/latina ↳ queer ↳ Dallas, TX.

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life? 

I am surrounded by so many inspiring women who represent the values of feminism in so many different ways. One of the most amazing women I know is my older sister, Ruth, who has always been my biggest role model. She is so smart and driven, and I’ve really looked up to her my whole life. Abby is another huge inspiration, for similar reasons, and because she is one of the best listeners I have ever met. Catherine has taught me to be myself, even when myself sucks. Ilsa and Carson have taught me so much about happiness and living life to its fullest. Maya is extra special to me because she is my closest friend who is also a female of color. I know my other friends understand intersectional feminism better than a lot of people, but Maya understands it more similarly to the way I do.


Do you consider yourself a feminist? 

I absolutely consider myself a feminist, and I have since I first heard the word. I’ve been lucky to grow up surrounded by feminism, and the first time I heard the word used was from my older brother, who has a degree in gender & feminist studies and does feminist spoken word poetry. I love the idea of feminism, which is literally just equality, and third wave feminism is so inspiring, because it recognizes intersectionality. My freshman year, I wrote a research paper on the importance of intersectional feminism, and since then, I have made it my mission to educate people on the importance of that.

What do you hope will change before you (possibly) have a daughter?

It would, unfortunately, be incredibly unrealistic for me to hope that all sexism has vanished by the time I have a daughter. That being said, I do hope that there is less bias against girls by the time I have a daughter. I hope status symbols like beauty and virginity have become a thing of the past, that girls aren’t called sluts or bitches because people don’t understand them. I hope there are more safe spaces for LGBTQ+ girls, that my daughter can walk home at night without fearing for her life and clutching her keys between her knuckles. More than anything, I hope that all people feel safe to be the person they are. What so many people can’t understand is that feminism is for everyone, that it can benefit girls and boys and others. I want my daughter, or my son, or whatever my child chooses to be, to be recognized for their power and their intelligence and their since of being, rather than the gender they’ve been assigned.

here is the part where i loved nature, even though all the trails were closed and my shoes got very wet and ilsa couldn’t walk anymore shortly after this photo was taken.

Who is an empowering woman in the media that you look up to?

There are so many powerful women in the media, but sometimes it’s hard to look up to women in the media because they don’t do for me what they can do for many other feminists. One important example is Taylor Swift, who, despite her talent and beauty, does not preach the same feminism I do. Or Lena Dunham, who despite plenty of problematic or offensive material, remains a "feminist icon” for many.

There are, however, a lot of incredibly underrated feminists of color who do so much without nearly as much recognition. One of the most important women in the media during this age is Nicki Minaj, who is devoting so much of her career to empowering young women of color, and all girls, too. Others who are equally as important are Arden Cho, Halsey, or Beyoncé. Women such as Melissa Fumero or Stephanie Beatriz, because there is a startling lack of Latina representation in the world today, so I feel I can really connect to those ladies. More than anything, girls like Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya, or are so close to my age and doing so much for modern feminism. I could go on forever. GIRLS ARE AWESOME.

What’s something you think all girls should know?

I think all girls should know that we are all in this together. That each of us is strong and beautiful and empowered and intelligent, in our own individual ways. It is so easy to pit women against each other, but whether you identify as a feminist or not, equality should be the goal for all women. We are all so beautiful, and we are all people living on this earth together. I can only hope that someday we all live equally because of that.

To learn more about International Day of the Girl, click here.

Did you miss a day? 
Click here to meet Carson Bolding.

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