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Breaking Latina stereotypes

Illustration+by+Melissa+Joseph.
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Breaking Latina stereotypes

Illustration by Melissa Joseph.

Illustration by Melissa Joseph.

Illustration by Melissa Joseph.

Illustration by Melissa Joseph.

Janette Estrada

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I am that b*tch who lives by the words of Drake: “Hair tied, sweat pants, chillin’ with no makeup on.” There is just one problem: I am Latina.

By my culture, I was taught looking presentable was an obligation. In a perfect world, I should be the exact image of Barbie leaving the factory; sign, sealed, delivered. Instead, I question if what it means to be a Latina is tied to the way I look.

The answer is no.

I was raised in a household outnumbered by men. Of four children, I am the only girl. My mother served as my only source of femininity, but it was not enough to keep me away from who I wanted to be.

The secret is I love “boy” clothing. Not because I hate my gender, but because I am comfortable with my own sexuality and self-expression.

To me, clothing serves my unique expression. It allows a flow of communication through colors, textures and sizes. While some applaud my brave approach to fashion, traditional heads judge me by my looks.

Latinas are typically stereotyped as caramel-skinned, tight-figured, sexy women with black hair. To get a better image, ABC’s Gloria in Modern Family supports this claim. She is the socially accepted image of what a Latina should look like. Her bold style and curvy hips send out the misconception that all Latinas need to look the same. A thick accent and a pretty face come with it.

sofiabyMelissaJoseph1.jpg

Illustration by Melissa Joseph.

Reality is: Latinos hate change. Mothers expect to raise their daughters to be a reflection of who they are, holding the same values, morals and principles. Traditional heads do not like what’s different, more so the blending of female and male.

We were raised under the rule of “niñas con niñas y niños con niños,” which translates to “girls with girls and boys with boys.”

This norm and the clustering of all Latinas into a single category of alikeness is the real problem. Let me be.

My mother always emphasizes that I shouldn’t compare myself to my brothers. Frankly, I am tired of hearing the same thing, as if there is a real lesson behind it. There should be no difference between the judgment of a man or woman based on what they choose to wear. Society as a whole should not make those choices for others.

Gender neutrality should be the default for all clothing types. What I wear does not defy who I am nor is it a representative of my whole culture. It simply represents me. It reflects comfort, but most importantly confidence. So, if I wake up and decide to rock basketball shorts with high top Air Force 1 sneakers, don’t be alarmed. I’m just feeling myself.

Fashion allows me to be someone different every day. Being the same is boring, just as mimicking others perceptions of “beauty” is. Just be every version of you, authentically. Drake said it best: “Sweatpants, hair tied, chillin’ with no makeup on, that’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong.”

Janette Estrada can be reached at [email protected] or @Jane_11e on Twitter.

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