Positive Latina Images

How we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves are two different concepts but they are both somehow defined and influenced by society. Every race and ethnicity has been put up to the critical standards of society and none but the blond hair, blue eyes and perfect measurement body has been victor. There are some times however, where we can minimize the gap through positive images. Through the true influence of art we find the similarities within our people and ourselves. I analyze two distinct pieces of art in our culture that bridge people, much more specifically the Latina women, and new positive images together.

Marielena_La_Fabulosa
Marielena: La Fabulosa part of the series 2012 “Make’em All Mexican” highlights popular cultural icons and the color of their skin that changes our perception of these figures. Linda Vallejo, the creator of the figurine, questions the appeal to society and explores the ability to make these icons familiar¹. Was their color of their skin part of their appeal to the public, like in the late 1950’s when musicians were forced to alter their name in order to sell albums? Needless to say, color of skin immediately changes one’s perspective of the icons. The almost ebony color versus the ivory counterpart is a critique from the artist’s perspective of what it is to be dark skinned in the ever critical popular culture. Would Marilyn’s curvy appeal be as effective in the place of a woman with dark skin, probably not. So why would we, as people of  color, Chicanos, and mestizos, allow these images to make up the popular culture? The future generations will look at the American culture and wonder if people of some other non-white, non- European color ever made an impact in popular culture. The American culture should work just as a mirror, we look towards it and a beautiful brown face looks back.

Furthermore, as a woman to see Marialena instead of Marilyn, would allow more Latina women accept their bodies and embrace the curves they have. As a white woman in the 50’s, Marilyn still changed the ideals and became embraced by pop culture, but the colored woman was still shamed. Having wide hips, does not make you “full figured” and being brown with black hair does not mean you cannot be beautiful, independent and iconic– that is what Mariaelena  flaunts and embodies. She is the woman, women of brown complexion can look up to for confidence and inspiration to conquer the world.

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In the 2002 movie, “Real Women Have Curves” directed by Patricia Cardoso allows a view into the issues Latina women and families face in the United States². Although Ana Garcia, portrayed by a young America Ferrera, is a much more contemporary Latina facing issues of mostly traditional family ideals– she also faced issues with body image. She is constantly shunned for her attempts at accepting her body and seeking a higher education. Ana becomes the face of countless Latina women who become a reflection of the insecurities some Latina face in similarly oppressive households. This coming of age film, although carried with a simple narrative has the ability to subtly change the mindset of fiercely traditional families, heightening and critiquing the negativity toward body image and change in the strongly traditional Mexican family portrayed. Cardoso does a good job in highlighting the fact that Ana’s desire and ability to pursue a higher education is an opportunity open to other first generation Latinos. Additionally, the males are not protagonists of this story, which gives further insight into the audience Cardoso wanted to bring awareness to. Her father and brother, instead are the ones with most support and love for Ana. The matriarchal household led in the story reflects the uptight and judgmental mother that does not allow her daughter success.

The figurine and this film deals with the difference within traditional ideals and contemporary ideals. Breaking out of the ideals society has been putting out for Latinos. Would Marialena be successful? Yes, just as much as Ana as a first generation Mexican American woman can be accepted into a prestigious university. This film especially highlights being a “homemaker” is no longer the only pathway for Latina woman, she is educated and capable of being independent! Ana is not expected to go beyond the sweatshop-type conditions her mother has provided for her, and go to college.With just the right amount of effort and support, the story concludes in her successful acceptance into Columbia on scholarship.

Every opportunity to view each other and ourselves in positive light should be applauded. As Chicanos and Latinos in the United States, art is such an accessible medium through which we can universally express ourselves. Vallejo and Cardoso, two Latinas prove that Latina women are not meant to fill the mold of society but create their own and share it with others.

¹ http://www.lindavallejo.com/about/about_artist4.html

² http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0296166/

One Does Not Simply…

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I stumbled upon this meme on the Mun2 blog, and I have not stopped sharing it with all my friends. It is way too real. The center piece, for all those who do not know, is almost like a reward and an essential piece of parading around your house that you went to the social event. You are able to take the centro de mes  because you gave a present to the host of the party. Then, most people collect these along with recuerdos as a symbol of integration into the Latino community. The “homemaker”, the mother, usually is the one responsible for collecting these and parading them all over the home.

This may sound outrageous, but I have seen women give each other the dirtiest of looks because they were “there first” and were going to take the center piece home, but the other lady ya lo aparto (they reserved it). Furthermore, I have seen women, somehow it is always the women, who left the party early and took two centerpieces– the nerve of her! Worst of all, I have been guilty of taking center pieces only to throw them away the next day. Honestly! The flowers will only be nice for a few days at most and all other centerpieces will only collect dust. Why then is it such a part of our culture to take them? Does it make us superficial to want exchange your presence for some flower arrangement in the center of table?

“Why did I enroll in CHS 100?”

A Misfit within

Being from a Latin heritage descent has always caused inner bewilderment. I grew up being taught American history and culture. I was lured into a generational wave that infused the taste of punk rock music and MTV shows depicting rebellion and freedom from parental authority. In return, this gradually placed my identity in question. I was oblivious to my own historical roots and unaware who the great founders and freedom fighters were, such as Pancho Villa and Zapata. I learned Spanish solely from my parents and knowing the proper grammar was never of a big importance to me. English is my main language which I developed to use more properly and effectively. Spanish has always been difficult to pronounce and write, till this day. I practice as often as I can whenever I speak with my parents, but I can’t fully express myself and as effectively as I would in English. It’s frustrating to be unable to communicate at the same level as my parents. I grew up learning American principles and historical foundations, which became fundamental pillars throughout my life and it’s something I’ve identified with so strongly. I’ve been hindered from my cultural history for far too long, and through the means of taking this course I believe that I will obtain a greater understating of the struggles Hispanics have had to endure, but also the accomplishments Hispanics and Chicanos alike fought for in order to obtain a sense of equality and freedom.

Where was your family in 1968?

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The Chicano Movement was one of the biggest movements in which I believe not only affected  Mexicans but all Latinos in the United States. From my observations my generation ignores the struggles that our people had to deal with for starting from our basic rights, freedom, and opportunities. We must never forget the implications that derived for the sake of what we have now. Latinos are the biggest growing minority but it has not always been like this. In 1968 Chicanos united as one to form a strong central group to  get their voices heard. My parents were not born at this time but it definitely affected them by giving them an easier way of life by the time they came to this country.

Prior to this class I learned about the walkouts by the film walkout. This film impacted me so much because throughout my life i didn’t really appreciate the things I had in life especially my education. Learning about the segregation and violence these people had to go through  to simply  gain equality for themselves and for the future generations to come made me conscious to realize that it wasn’t always easy for Latinos in this country.

The events in the past i believe I owe my life to even though I might not recognize or mention it as frequently.  The Chicano movement gave my family an opportunity to own property in this country, give my sister and i the chance to attend college,  pursue my own  ambitions and goals in life, and most importantly gave me rights and freedom in this country. I strongly believe that the without the impact of the Chicano movement I would definitely not have the life I have today. I am not saying that the Latino community has no struggles today but what i am saying is that the Chicano movement shed light to new opportunities for families in the United States. By learning about the past history that impacted Latinos in the United States I find a sense of motivatation to be the best I can be in this life and most importantly to help others around me. What I get from the Chicano movement is the knowledge to believe to be strong and not give up on my dreams. Because the reality is that everyone has power but it is up to the individual to utilize that power for good.

Contemporary Feminist Prayer

Hail Mary full of strength

free Pussy Riot and chase Putin out

for the lord is thee

we ask that you protect the whore and strike the man

Holy Mary, Mother of resistance

blessed art thou for being a woman

blessed art thou for saving the pill and chasing Limbaugh out

and blessed is the strength of thy womb

we ask that you Pray for those who fight against patriarchy

Holy Mother, Blessed warrior enlighten Rihanna and chase Brown out

Holy Mother, Blessed warrior protect her wages and strike down his

Holy Mother, Blessed warrior free her sexuality now and till the hour of her death

Amen    Awomen

Why I chose to take CHLS 100

Mexico-flagIt all started this summer when I decided to change my major earlier this year.  In the summer I decided to change from Biology Physiology major to Biomedical Engineer.  I was very excited and got most of my classes for the upcoming semester.  When I found out that I was not eligible to switch majors, I had to drop some of my classes and get new ones.  When school started I asked my friends what classes they recommended and they all said to take CHLS 100.  Since it filled my schedule perfectly, I decided to take it.

When I came into class today, I had no idea what this class was about.  I was thinking of some of the Spanish classes I took in high school and wondered if it was going to be the same. When people started to get up and tell why they are taking this class, I saw how interested they are into finding out where they come from.  I can relate to most or all of the students, because I also come from a Chicano Latino decent.  Now I am looking forward to this class and to find out more of my culture.

Where was your family in 1968?

Education not Eradication

My family during the 1968 period was still in Mexico; it wasn’t until the 80’s when my parents arrived in Chicago, Illinois. The events that happened in 68’ were bound to happen. The movement impacted anyone who is of Latin American decent or any other ethnicity that was impacted by the discrimination during the time. The connection that my family has to 1968 is my bothers and sisters with me included. If the 1968 rights wouldn’t of happened we’d still be living in a time where educational rights would be set in the past. With out it happening we still might be living in a world of oppression.

1968

In 1968, my grandparents were still in Guadalajara, Mexico. It wasn’t until 1983 that my parents immigrated to the United States. Prior to World War II, ‘Chicano’ was a degrading word that was looked at as someone who wasn’t American and wasn’t Mexican. They had no identity or nationalism. After World War II, Chicanos became more active in receiving fair treatment and more equality. Mexican empowerment helped Mexican Americans develop ethnic pride, and made the term ‘Chicano’ become more of a lifestyle and gave people a sense of belonging. As Mexican Americans gained a better political consciousness, my parents, along with a widespread of Mexicans began to immigrate north. As the population of Mexican Americans grew, they demanded more politically, economically, and in education. When walk outs and sit ins were unsuccessful, they began to act violently in order to make sure their demands were met in terms of being treated equally. If it wasn’t for the origins of the Chicano Movement, my parents would have never decided to move to the United States. They chose to immigrate north because of the opportunities that had opened up for Mexicans. The sense of pride gained in Mexican Americans greatly impacted why I live in America today.

1968

1968

            In 1968 both my parents were just one, both of them living in a small village in San Luis Potosi. My dad was the oldest son and the third oldest out of seven siblings in his family. My mom was the youngest of seven. Both of grandparents owned land, on my dad’s side he used it to make crops and feed his animals, cows and horses. My mom’s dad had a small store, near their house, they also had crops and animals, but not as big as my other grandparents.

There were a lot of events that took place in 1968 led by different groups like UMAS, MECha, etc., but they wanted the same things, rights for Mexicans and Mexicans-Americans. It is now called the Chicano/a Movement that took place all over the US, trying to get attention for lack of support in every area of a Chicano’s life. There were walk outs in, East L.A., schools because the students, and some teachers, taught that the school system was not fair and biased. There are a lot more examples of this type of protest so that everyone can get the same job, education, and have the same opportunity. That is one of the reasons why my parents moved here, if those events hadn’t happen, then my family would still be in Mexico learning about the bad relationship between the US and Mexico.