Please respond to each of the following questions, writing for no more and no less than 3 minutes in response to each question:
How does your outward appearance (i.e. clothing, makeup, hairstyle, accessories, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
My outward appearance is that of a 60 year old woman who dresses plainly, all in black. Occasionally I wear earrings, almost never makeup. I think it reflects the fact that I'm very comfortable in my skin and make no excuses or apologies for my appearance. On the rare occasions a conversation veers into the subject of outward appearance, I mention that I buzz and bleach my hair once a month and to 'fix' my hair in the morning I just pat it down with a washcloth. As ready as I am to defend my choices, I never have to.
How do your beliefs and values (i.e. opinions, commitments, memberships, principles, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
I've always had a strong moral sense, even when my family's ideas of morality were pretty flexible. As far as right and wrong are concerned, I'm black-and-white. My values for myself are rigid, but everybody else gets a lot of slack as long as they don't pretend to have any power over me. To most people I think I appear to be very liberal and understanding. People often confide their deepest secrets to me, knowing I won't hurt them.
How do your dietary and domestic practices (i.e. hygienic routines, meals and mealtimes, food choices, daily chores) reflect your cultural identity?
My dietary choices are based on survival, since I was ill for the first 42 years of my life. I always had severe sinus problems and gastrointestinal problems and emergencies. When I was 43 I started eating a certain way and turned everything around. Now I only eat what I can and it has made life worth living. Sometimes people don't understand and think I can take an antihistamine and eat whatever I want, but usually that's just from a frustrated desire to feed me. Once I realized that, I forgave them for being domineering over food. It also helps that these days the world is a little more understanding of people with food sensitivities.
How does your region or location in the world reflect your cultural identity?
I moved to Texas 12 years ago and finally felt at home here. It's a place that reflects my ideals perfectly. The people here are friendly and very liberal-minded in a lot of ways. That may be from 'the old days' when Texas was so scarcely populated that most everyone was valued. I'm also aware that saying I'm 'from Texas' gives people a pre-conceived idea that I'm independent and hard to push around. I don't mind that at all, it's pretty accurate.
Describe a time when you were judged, excluded, or misunderstood because of one of the cultural traits noted above.
About 20 years ago when I discovered my many food sensitivities, it was widely thought that people were just making it up to appeal for special privileges or to get sympathy. Add that to the dismal future of not being able to eat like the rest of your culture and things got depressing. At times it made me angry. I can go down whole grocery store aisles and there's nothing for me to eat there. Fortunately the best things for me were whole and fresh foods and I've been relatively healthy for a long time. That is, of course, unless I break 'the rules'.