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This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

Art has the power to shift culture, and in Puerto Rico, a young illustrator is using it to help demystify female sexuality in a society where it’s largely still seen as taboo.

For the last four years, Guanina Cotto has used art as a way to explore her own sexuality, drawing erotic moments she has experienced to better understand what she likes and doesn’t like.

“It’s a tool to get to know myself,” Cotto, 25, told FIERCE. “It’s like writing for some people. For me, it’s like having a visual journal, where I draw ideas, what I’m feeling, new things I’ve explored and using it to learn about myself.”

Using Instagram as her visual diary, Cotto’s illustrations, which depict her lounging naked on a hammock, masturbating in bed, kissing other women or engaging in sexual practices with men, caught attention beyond her eyes. With more than 5 thousand followers, it’s become a site to challenge machista standards of female sexuality, gender expectations and heteronormativity on an island where public education teaches students sex is to be engaged in after marriage and where women are shamed, sometimes attacked, for daring to display their bare or scantily-dressed bodies.

The Isabela-based artist welcomes the attention her self-described “biographic soft erotic” illustrations have received, believing her portrayals could make people more comfortable seeing sexually liberated women in real life.

“My art is a way of normalizing sexuality,” she said. “Art exposes and stimulates people in many ways. I think the more people see the naked body, the more normal it will become.”

The process of normalizing an aspect of humanity that remains hush-hush, particularly in rural western municipalities like the one she lives in, comes with strains, however. In 2015, for instance, Collectivo Moriviví, a young women’s art collective based in the island’s metropolitan area, painted an anti-domestic violence mural that showed full-figured nude Black women with their faces covered. Months later, the piece, displayed in San Juan’s art district of Santurce, was defaced, with vandals drawing undergarments on the women’s bodies. For Cotto, whose work lives online, backlash to her art exists in reports to Instagram for explicit sexual content, a reprisal she says has become less frequent over the years.

Through normalizing female sexual autonomy and pleasure, Cotto believes it could help generations unlearn messages they were taught about their bodies, consent and relationships in school, through church and in their families.

She knows firsthand how detrimental these lessons on female morality and respectability are for young women trying to make sense of their desires. Growing up, Cotto attended a religious school, where educational instruction, and home lessons from her grandmother, taught her that premarital sex and self-pleasure were sins. While the artist does have a mother, who she describes as a feminist, that told her that she is in control of her body, the mixed messages impacted her connection with her body and sexuality and, as a result, her future romantic relationships.

“I grew up scared, scared of my own feelings and wants,” she said. “We grow up not knowing our own bodies and that we are capable of experiencing pleasure, too. They teach us that sex is something done to us, not for us to enjoy. We become objects, as if being beautiful and desirable is the most important thing to be.”

That fear and unfamiliarity of what healthy, respectful relationships look like, she shares, previously kept her tied to former lovers who wanted to control the way she dressed and acted in public. She believes women are less likely to stay in situations where they aren’t valued and respected if they are taught earlier in their lives that they have autonomy over their bodies.

“When we learn sexuality isn’t shameful, we can establish healthy boundaries and be more in tune with what makes us our true selves. We become empowered,” she said.

While Cotto views her art as personal, she also believes it, and others like it, have the power to allow women to feel comfortable in their bodies, own their sexuality and demand pleasure and respect. Her illustrations, which, in addition to presenting women engaging in eroticism, also depict them participating in daily activities like lounging, drawing or breast-feeding their infants nude, is often the first time people see women represented through a female’s gaze.

“When I draw the naked body of a woman, it’s not always sexual. Oftentimes, it is, but not always. For me, it’s about normalizing the body, showing the beauty of women and what it looks like to be a free woman, through a female’s gaze,” she said.

Read: After Sex Shame Led To A Porn Addiction, This Latina Is Encouraging All Women To Unlearn Ideas That Sexuality Is Dirty

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Babies Trying Pan Dulce For the First Time is the Instagram Content We Didn’t Know We Needed

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Babies Trying Pan Dulce For the First Time is the Instagram Content We Didn’t Know We Needed

There are few things more delicioso than pan dulce. Whether it’s served with café con leche or grabbed as a quick breakfast indulgence, it really is the perfect treat. This variety of sweet bread has become a big part of the Latinidad.

When we’re talking pan dulce, conchas, puerquitos, orejas and empanadas are just a few of the mouthwatering options. No matter which sweet bread is your fav, you can relive your first taste over and over again with every fresh bite.

Thanks to social media, we can also see the adorableness that comes with baby’s first sweet bread. Hashtags like #BabysFirstConcha or #BabySweetBread are where to go to find cute pics of babies taking their first bites of sweet pan dulce.

Here are some super cute pictures of babies eating their first pan dulce.

1. Enjoy your matching concha, preciosa.

Instagram / @alanah.aya

Just like the color pink, conchas are perfect for every occasion. This little preciosa doesn’t hold back as she takes a mighty chomp out of her pan dulce. From the looks of it, this first bite won’t be her last. Enjoy, mija.

2. Matching concha costume = GOALS.

Instagram / @gr_twins

Pan dulce-themed birthday parties are now a thing — and we really wish they were back when we were kids. What better way to celebrate your special day than to dress like your favorite food. That frosting-covered face confirms how awesome pan dulce birthdays can be.

3. You don’t need teeth to enjoy pan dulce.

Instagram / @nadyaaglae

Not having teeth doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the goodness that is pan dulce. If you’re a babe taking your first bite, just working that sweet treat with the gums you’ve been given is good enough. Just imagine how much pan dulce this cutie will take down once he actually gets those baby teeth in.

4. Just a little nibble for now.

Instagram / @ainsley_belle_511

While some babies might go mouth-first into their conchas, this little lady prefers to nibble. In her matching concha onesie, this sweetie is more proper with her first bite. However, once she gets a taste, there’s no doubt this little conchita will go pan dulce-crazy.

5. That smile says she knows this is going to be good.

Instagram / @lapasteleriadesofia

Look at the awe on her face. Look at that little grin. This baby knows she’s got something special in front of her. This pic was taken before the big chomp but that look on her face tells us it’s coming soon.

6. Nothing beats twinning with your pan dulce.

Instagram / @gr_twins

Can you really claim conchas are your favorite food if you don’t regularly dress up like them. Twinning with your favorite pan dulce is an awesome look no matter what day it is. Top it off with a concha cake and you’ve got a party.

7. Pan dulce: the perfect party food.

Instagram / @shopoliposa

Piñatas and decorations are all well and good, but a real party needs one more ingredient — pan dulce. This little lady knows what’s up as she snacks on her vanilla concha. What’s even better is the absolutely gorgeous photoshoot she had to immortalize her first bite.

8. If you are what you eat, eat lots of conchas

Instagram / @kaylaa_baylaa1

Have you ever seen a cuter conchita in your life? The answer is obviously no. This giggly little sweet bread is just as lovable as the pan dulce that she’s dressed as. Of course, her happy face could have something to do with all that colorful sugar.

9. Sweet like pan dulce.

Instagram / @madamemariposa

Those sweet, soulful eyes and that face buried into a soft concha are guaranteed to make you say, “Awwww.” This adorable shot doesn’t need any extra props or colorful backgrounds to make us swoon. If you don’t have baby fever yet, you probably do now.

10. Waiting for the sugar to kick in like…

Instagram / @normlone

Her face is telling us a lot. Namely that this little chula is lost in the flavor of her delicious pan dulce. We can admit that this state of pre-sugar high is super relatable. At least baby will be able to enjoy a nice nap after that sugar hits.

11. When you can’t wait to get home to start digging in.

Instagram / @aandylove

Sometimes you can’t wait to get home from the panderia before you start digging into the pan dulce. This sweetheart didn’t even wait to get out of her car seat to start snacking. Also, did anyone else notice that this concha is as big as her head? That’s a big project she’s working on.

12. Conchas are serious business.

Instagram / @lamonarcabakery

Although this little preciosa has a serious look on her face, those puffed out cheeks give away her secret. They’re stuffed with yummy concha. She’s obviously contemplating which piece of pan dulce she should take down next.

13. Go ahead and take a big bite, mija!

Instagram / @tres.marias.and.mama

For her “Coco”-themed birthday party, this little cutie has everything from flower crowns to guitars to complete that mood. Of course that means she also has the ultimate treat, pan dulce. We wonder if she waited to blow out the candles before she dug in.

14. We know that feeling, baby girl.

Instagram / @rlocreativedesign

That feeling when the pan dulce hits that sweet craving just right. This little cutie looks like she’s experiencing just a bit of euphoria with that first bite. The matching concha tee and pink tutu really complete this adorable look.

15. Her face says it all.

Instagram / @little_mia_sanchez

As perfect as pan dulce is, it’s also pretty messy. However, that mess is just proof that you’re thoroughly enjoying that sweet treat. This baby isn’t at all worried about the sugary mess on her face; she’s got her eyes on the prize.

16. Never too young for pan.

Instagram / @mrs.sotelo.official_

While many babies have pan dulce parties for their first or second birthdays, this little lady just couldn’t wait. As a celebration for her nine month b-day, she not only had a taste of delicious pan dulce, she also had a little photoshoot to commemorate it. After all, you’re never too young for this sweetness.

17. Now that’s a mouthful!

Instagram / @truegrumpybaby

Some babies nibble, some take a practice bite before they jump in. This baby isn’t afraid to take the plunge and go at it with a big ol’ bite. We hope he approaches every challenge in his life with the same bravery and commitment.

18. La Princesa de Conchas.

Instagram / @concha_bunny

First of all, we LOVE this look. Secondly, this little princesa looks absolutely in love with that sweet bread. No doubt, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship between conchas and this little cutie pie.

19. The look of true love.

Instagram / @iscjuanita

This sweet smile can only mean one thing: this little one is in love with pan dulce. The sweet simplicity of her first bites is what this list is all about. It’s a reminder of what pan dulce is all about: sugar, bread, and all things good in this world.

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Running For Governor Of Puerto Rico In 2020

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Running For Governor Of Puerto Rico In 2020

Last week, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, announced that she is running for governor in the 2020 elections.

Cruz, who gained national attention after criticizing President Donald Trump’s slow and shoddy response to Hurricane Maria, announced her run at the Caguas Botanical Garden on Friday.

“I’ve been thinking for a long time, what’s the best way I can serve Puerto Rico … I’m going to do so by becoming the next governor,” she said.

Cruz, who was sporting a t-shirt that read “¡Sin Miedo!” — which is Spanish for “without fear” — began her address by discussing her great-grandfather, who worked as an agricultural laborer, and how the legacy of slavery still impacts Puerto Rico today.

“We have to break away from the chains that tie us down in order to have a promising future and break our cycle of poverty,” Cruz, speaking on Emancipation Day, a Puerto Rican holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery on the island on March 22, 1873, said.

In Puerto Rico, the political party system is linked to the island’s political status. Those who support statehood, like sitting Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, are part of the New Progressive Party, more commonly known by the Spanish acronym PNP. People who want Puerto Rico to remain a US territory side with the Popular Democratic Party, or PPD, the party that Cruz is running in. Finally, those who want the island’s independence from the US often support the Puerto Rican Independence Party, or PIP.

After the Category 4 hurricane ravaged the island on September 20, 2017, Cruz, not Gov. Rosselló, became the face of the island, wading through flood water to help those devastated by the storm and publicly feuding with the president. When announcing her candidacy, she reminded the crowd that Gov. Rosselló’s administration “was unable to count deaths after Hurricane Maria” and “stood by Trump when he threw paper towels at people [in Puerto Rico].”

Cruz also took the opportunity to voice her position on other pressing matters on the island, like repealing the Jones Act, which prevents foreign ships from embarking on the island and thus raises the cost of imported goods, eliminating the federal Financial Oversight and Management Board and calling for an audit of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion public debt.

“The reality is that we still live in an island that fights for food, liberty and land,” she said, referring to the PPD’s Spanish slogan “Pan, libertad y tierra.” “We’re building a new movement within the Popular Democratic Party.”

Last month, Cruz also announced that she would co-chair Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the 2020 presidential race, saying the candidate could create “a new path toward the resolution of many of the issues facing Puerto Rico,” including establishing a “new relationship” with the United States.

Read: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Believes Bernie Sanders Could Create A “New Relationship” Between Puerto Rico And The US

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