Joons – we got a sexy Latina on the blog. That’s right – introducing Patricia – a radio host, feminist, and civil engineer – Patricia is beauty, brains, and wit wrapped into one. We love her because she refuses to apologize (you’ve been warned).
We Latinas are sexy and curvaceous and all around pretty damn hot…or so people say. On American TV shows we always have a hot body and a cute accent, and on Latino TV shows we lose the accent, but we still keep the hot bodies.
I know for a fact that I do not fit that mold. Yes, maybe I have larger hips and a bigger bootie than most of my White friends, but even these thighs weren’t enough to compete with the voluptuous Sofia Vergara’s, Salma Hayek’s, and Shakira’s of the world; mainly because having a big bootie comes with having a lot of everything else — I’m talking to you, darn tummy.
I have a love/hate relationship with my body.
As a little girl I was extremely thin which resulted in my relatives admonishing my parents for not feeding me enough. Little plump kids are a good thing in my culture, but I was happy to look like the thin girls I saw on TV. That was until I turned 12 and developed breasts and hips much too large for a tween. Then my relatives complained that I was getting too big, and I suddenly felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere.
Throughout the years I have gained and lost so much weight, yet I haven’t been able to look like any of the women that the media tells me I’m supposed to look like.
This struggle isn’t particularly unique for Latinas, but as women of color we need to reconcile two completely different ideals. Our definition of beauty, womanhood, and positive body image is largely defined by our cultures and ethnic backgrounds. But most of us came of age in the United States, and outside our homes beauty standards were very different. So how do we reconcile those two standards? Or better yet, why should we?
It gets tiring to hear criticism about your body and as much as we try to not let that hurt us, it’s really tough when it comes from our mom or our aunts. As a teenager I had no way of telling my relatives that their comments, as well-meaning as they meant them to be, were hurtful. As an adult, I still don’t really know how to handle body criticism.
It sucks to feel like you’ll never have the right amount of curves to look like Jennifer Lopez, but will always have too many curves to fit into our anglicized adopted country. And trust me, genetics gave me these hips, there is no amount of gym time that can fix the genetic impossibility of looking like Charlize Theron.
Curves are a part of the Latina physique (so take note Gap, because your jeans come in one-size-hips-only.)
Cultural pressures play a big role in how we live our lives and how happy we are, including how we view our bodies. Latinas have a rate of suicide that is double that of Anglo or African American girls, so while a few jabs at our growing midsection might seem innocent, we internalize that. Coupled with the many pressures that we face to be good daughters and human beings, that results could lead to a lot of self loathing.
I for one, am tired of feeling like my body is an extension of my culture. The reality is that I think I look pretty darn good, even if it doesn’t please everyone around me, or fit into a set of beauty standards.
So c’mon Latinas, and all women who have a little more giggle to our walk, let’s stop complaining about not being able to get our protruding derriere into that ridiculously overpriced pair of 7 For All Mankind (yea, right!) jeans.
When mom says “you look a little bigger than the last time I saw you,” tell her that it’s because her cooking is so darn delicious you just can’t help yourself — “yes mom, I’ll have another cheese empanada.”
When you’re trying on a pair of jeans that refuse to budge halfway up your thighs, just move it along. That’s why they invented A-line skirts!
And the next time we start comparing our bodies to celebrities, whether they are American celebrities or from our motherland, it’s best to realize that unlike for them, our jobs do not require us to be at the gym several hours a day. Gyms are great, but no one wants to be inside a gym every single day when we could be sipping an iced coffee and reading a good book.
Lastly, just remember, spandex is your friend.
TWEET AT PATRICIA: @Besito86