21 Lessons I Learned About Latinas While I Was Living in NYC
I have to admit something rather embarrassing: I grew up in a fairly secluded Latinx household. I was just eight years old when my family moved to the U.S. straight to Miami, where I met Cubans, Cubans and more Cubans — just like my family and I. Although eventually, we moved to another part of Florida and I met different kinds of people, it wasn’t until I moved to New York City for college that I actually met different kids of Latinxs.
Since then, my worldview has grown exponentially. I never realized how secluded I was — or how truly diverse the Latinx community is — until I began to meet and make friends with other Latinas. From learning that not all of us love cooking (say what?!) to sharing dating horror stories, here are 21 lessons that I learned about Latinas (and myself) after I moved to New York City.
1. We are a very diverse group.hereisgina/Instagram
Before I moved to New York City, the only other Latinas I knew were all Cuban. To be honest, they were all very light skinned and looked basically just like me. But after moving, I learned that Latinos are a very diverse group — not all of us are light-skinned.
2. We don’t all look alike.porterhousela/Instagram
Just as with the light-skinned example above, I learned that Latinxs come in all shapes and sizes. I met Latinas who are tall, who are short, who have a light complexion, who have a dark complexion, who have brown eyes, who have blue eyes. Seriously, we do NOT all look alike!
3. We can support each other without competition.wearebelladose/Instagram
The biggest thing I learned as a kid from telenovelas is that women compete a LOT. Well, the truth is that this just isn’t accurate. After moving to New York and meeting some Latinas who eventually became my friends, I learned that telenovelas were lying to me and that we could, inf act, support each other.
4. Not all of us love to wear heels.anaisalesya/Instagram
My mami taught me that a Latina must be always very well put together. She wasn’t a huge fan of heels herself, but she always encouraged my interest in fashion. I dressed up for every single school dance and all. But when I came to New York, I learned that loving fashion isn’t really in our DNA… It’s something that some of us do and some of us do not.
5. We don’t all have our ears pierced.kaylarmartinez/Instagram
One of the biggest things that shocked me after I moved to New York is that not ALL Latinas have their ears pierced. To be honest, I am still shocked whenever I meet a Latina who doesn’t have her ears pierced (since it’s a very common thing to do when your baby girl is young), but I commend them for stepping outside of that stereotype.
6. The whole “curvy” thing is just a stereotype.membacolora/Instagram
I was always very ashamed of my butt growing up. This is probably due to the fact that I was a child of the 80s and 90s and spend most of my childhood pre-JLo. After Jennifer Lopez rose to fame, though, I happily embraced my curves — which is why it came such a huge shock when I eventually met Latinas who absolutely did NOT fit the “curvy” stereotype.
7. Hair is a difficult and complicated topic.daliwlf/Instagram
Many of us grew up with the “pelo malo” narrative, and my heart breaks more every time I hear a friend tell the story of how her mami made her feel bad about her hair as a kid. This isn’t something that I experienced growing up, but it was a really good thing to learn about when I met other Latinas.
8. Dating is a struggle for most of us.loveandthrive/Instagram
Look, I don’t want to say that dating is difficult for ALL of us but it’s been a common complaint amongst the Latinas I have met. Why? Well, to be honest, a lot of men (especially non-Latinx men) are excited about the prospect of dating a Latina. They have a LOT of stereotypes about us built up in their heads, which makes it really awkward on first dates when we have to turn down their awkward overly sexual advances.
9. We’re better educated.texas__chingona/Instagram
The number of Latinas earning college degrees is increasing, according to the latest statistics. Although it’s difficult for a lot of us to go to college (due to financial instability, families that want us to stay close, etc), we are still managing to do it and graduate with four-year degrees.
10. There is a big divide between American-raised and not.nyclatinabloggers/Instagram
I was raised in two worlds: My parents are immigrants but I grew up mostly in the U.S. since I was only eight years old when we came here. I thought that was pretty normal, but after moving to NYC I realized that there are many different types of Latinx families and the way they are raised. Some Latinas I met are American-born and raised while others come from much heavily immigrant-influenced families.
11. Speaking Spanish isn’t something we all do.dianagetssocial/Instagram
I grew up speaning Spanish, sure, but I was severely mistaken when I assumed that every Latino family is like this. Just like the fact that some of us are more Americanized than others, some of us do not speak Spanish at all. In fact, a lot of my friends in NYC didn’t. And you know what? That’s okay!
12. Yes, some of us are close to family. Some are not.delasmiaslife/Instagram
I know it’s a stereotype, but I’ve learned that a lot of (white) American families are… not that close. For instance, I love my husband dearly, but he barely ever talks to his sister or his dad. This is totally normal in his family, though. Whereas, in my family, if I don’t talk to my mom for a few days, she freaks out. Every family is different but I’ve found that many Latinx families tend to be on the closer side. However, well, that’s simply not all of us since some Latinas have tumultuous relationships with their families and need the space away from them to be their true selves.
13. Some of us can be blonde (shocking!).yslifestyle_/Instagram
This is going to sound pretty ignorant of me (I admit), but I didn’t know a single naturally blonde Latinx person growing up. It just wasn’t a thing in my family or in my parents friends. We were all light-skinned, dark-haired and had brown eyes. So, when I discovered that some Latinas have naturally blonde hair and even blue eyes… Well, I was shocked. But it’s okay, I recovered.
14. We don’t all love to cook.ivy__chic/Instagram
There is a pretty big Latina stereotype that we all love to cook and clean. Well, NOT true. Granted, it may sound weird for me to say that because I actually DO love to cook… but my personal interests simply do not translate into the interests of every other Latina out there. We’re all different and we don’t all need to love to be in the kitchen, despite what my abuelita taught me growing up.
15. Yes, we all grew up cleaning on Saturdays.daniaviera82/Instagram
Okay, I hate to stereotype here but I’ve yet to meet a Latina who wasn’t woken up early on a Saturday to help her mami clean. Maybe this is just one of those stereotypes that’s very, very true.
16. Many of us have stories of being called “fiery.”missyolandavega/Instagram
Whenever I ask a Latina what has been the stereotype that has driven her up the wall, it’s pretty much always the whole “fiery” thing. Sometimes we’re called “spicy” but it’s basically the same thing. There honestly hasn’t been a Latina who I’ve met that hasn’t come across this stereotype more than once… especially in dating, honestly.
17. Our families come from many different countries.bea.olmedillo/Instagram
As I mentioned before, I grew up in a predominantly Cuban part of Florida so that was all who I met. When I moved to New York, I got to meet a lot of other Latinas from many different countries and nationalities. I got to meet Dominicanas, Mexicanas, Salvadorenas, and so much more. It’s been wonderful to learn about all of the similarities and, especially, all of the differences between our different cultures.
18. We didn’t all grow up with a chihuahua for a pet.cataatthebarre/Instagram
I have no idea where this stereotype originally came from, but I heard a lot of questions growing up whenever I told people that I had a cat. What, was I supposed to have a chihuahua? Apparently, I didn’t get the memo — and neither did most of the other Latinas I’ve met throughout the years. Though, funnily enough, my mom got a chihuahua as a pet the year after I moved out for college.
19. None of us like being called a “half” Latina.jenzeanodesigns/Instagram
This is something that has always driven me crazy, but a lot of people (both those outside of our community and within it) that try to call those of us who have only one Latinx parent a “half” Latinx. That, to me, has always been rather silly. Although I have just half of my dad’s Cuban DNA, I grew up with him full-time and I am a full Latina. This happens to many of us who are mixed, but it’s something that needs to end ASAP.
20. We can do pretty much anything we want.jenzeanodesigns/Instagram
Yes, Latinas are unstoppable! It may not seem like it all the time, especially with all of the crazy political BS going on right now, but we have accomplished a lot — and we will continue to persevere, as Rita Moreno said.
21. Nobody understands me quite like another Latina.msirinagonzalez/Instagram
Sure, I have all kinds of different friends. Not all of them are Latinas and all of the Latinas are different — but I have to admit: A lot of the times, it is hard for one of my other friends to understand me. There is just something about the special bond that we share as Latinas that is really unique and special.
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