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The Struggle of Growing Up An Overweight Latina Whose Family Thought It Was Cute To Call ‘Gordita’

Ay, que gordita!”

These words always stung worse than the cheek pinching that inevitably followed. Even though I heard them time and time again, I never became numb to the pain they caused. Growing up Latina, I became accustomed to the idea that my weight was fair game to all of my relatives.

Most of the time, the remarks came without disapproval.

Naomi Villagomez Roochnik / Naomi Villagomez Roochnik [L] and her brother.In fact, my relatives gushed over my chub, beaming and patting me like a prized pig. Still, regardless of the intent, the end result still hurt the same as getting teased. I dreaded having to greet my tias, their fingers waggling and ready to squeeze whatever flesh they could lay their hands on. They were the biggest culprits, but I had plenty of tíos that took equal pleasure in pointing out the folds and rolls of my body. Their comments, however, sounded more like matter-of-fact observations, which struck me as even weirder. They would size me up and assess me as they would some porky specimen on display. Even more annoyingly, while I had to endure a running commentary on my lonjas, my brother, who could have passed for a member of Menudo, got complimented on his boy band looks. Hermano guapito, hermana gordita.

One of the worst things about being a gordita was that there was no escape. The kids ridiculed me mercilessly at school, and then I couldn’t even find relief with my own family members. Although my self-esteem was in the toilet, I tried not to broach the subject to my mom. I didn’t tell her about the bullying at school and I never complained to her about how my relatives made me feel. It was already humiliating enough. Vocalizing my hurt over the experiences meant having to relive them twice, adding yet another witness to my shame. There was also the fact that I also always knew what would follow: my mother’s frustration. In her efforts to take me out of my pain, she would try to find a scapegoat that still somehow always ended up making me feel that my weight was my fault. “It’s all that basura they give you at the school!” she would growl, which only made me feel like a failure for eating it. Instead of just letting me cry, she would desperately try to find a solution for me to lose weight. I know it was her way of wanting to protect me, but it never seemed to help.

For a long time, I smiled and kissed my relatives on the cheek and allowed them to poke and prod and marvel at my rolls. But one day, a tia visiting from Peru came to visit, and absolutely lost it when she saw me. It was like she had never seen a fat kid before. Calling me gordita wasn’t enough. This woman, a walking thesaurus, spat out about half a dozen Spanish synonyms for “fat.” “Que gordita! Mira, que liiiiinda! Niñita gruesita! Tan pulposa!” Yep, she actually used the word “pulposa,” which I didn’t even understand at the time, all I knew was that it sounded like “pulpo” (octopus), a giant, slimy, fat blob monster with tentacles.

Once she went to bed, I knew I couldn’t take it anymore. I pulled my mom aside and told her that I really didn’t like it when my relatives called me that word. “What word, hijita?”

I hung my head in shame, my eyes filling with tears. “You know…that word. Gorda.” Her expression changed from confusion to a gentle understanding. “Then I’ll make sure they never say it again,” she whispered. Perhaps it was that the teasing was coming from her own family that prompted my mom to take action against them instead of guilting me into eating less. Perhaps she felt embarrassed by them. Whatever the reason, I finally felt validated.

The next morning, my tía apologized to me the moment she saw me.

Naomi Villagomez Roochnik / Naomi Villagomez Roochnik [R] and her brother.“I had no idea I was hurting your feelings,” she said. “Please forgive me.” This just compounded my embarrassment (having to “admit” to my fatness and vulnerability) so I waved it off. I almost wondered if my mom had made her apologize to me (my mom can be terrifying when she wants to be, which is like…80% of the time?). Still, I felt relieved that I would no longer have to stomach her comments. After that, I noticed all of my relatives started making fewer and fewer remarks about my weight. I actually caught my mom in the act one time, yanking a prima out of the room and glaring at her and hissing about what not to say.

I still get comments from time to time about my weight from my relatives (only this time, it’s that I’m a “flaquita”) and since I’m a grown-ass woman, my mom doesn’t fight my battles for me anymore– I’ll simply roll my eyes and change the subject. I know my mom could have done a better job of comforting me when it came to my insecurities growing up, but at the very least she defended me from my own family members. I’m lucky, I have a lot of Latina friends who would have been scoffed at or scolded by their mothers if they had tried to share what I shared with mine. I hope with time, our familias feel less inclined to blurt out unwarranted comments on the bodies of their female relatives. Even with the rise of the Body Positivity movement and general society beginning to accept gorditas for the fly, badass beauties that they are, so many of our younger hermanas and primas are still bombarded by hurtful words and laughter from classmates. Families should be the ones bolstering their hearts and souls, not adding to their sorrow. I’m so grateful that my mother did.


Read: Latina Reads: 7 Costa Rican Authors You Need to Have on Your Radar

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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A Group Of Primarily Female Mexican Scientists Discovered A Potential Cure For HPV

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A Group Of Primarily Female Mexican Scientists Discovered A Potential Cure For HPV

“If you’re having sex, you’ll likely contract HPV at some point in your life.” That is how one gynecologist explained the sexually transmitted diseases to me, which completely freaked me out. Even though human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus contracted through sexual intercourse, it doesn’t make it less scary when you realize that it’s related to 150 viruses and can lead to cancer for both men and women. While there are vaccines available to prevent the spread of HPV to a broader age group than in previous years, we are finally closer to finding a cure.

A group of primarily female Mexican scientists at the National Polytechnic Institute cured their patients of HPV.

Twitter/@StephDenisse

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Eva Ramos Gallegos (pictured above), treated 420 patients from Veracruz and Oaxaca, and 29 from Mexico City. They used “photodynamic therapy” which “is a treatment that involves using a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light to treat different areas of the body” according to their report.

The doctors found extraordinary results through their method of treatment that led to cure 100 percent of the people that had HPV. They also cured 64.3 percent of people infected with HPV that had cancerous cells, and 57.2 percent of people that had cancerous cells without the HPV virus. That last result could mean that a cure for cancer is not far behind.

“Unlike other treatments, it only eliminates damaged cells and does not affect healthy structures. Therefore, it has great potential to decrease the death rate from cervical cancer,” Dr. Gallegos told Radio Guama.

People on social media ecstatically hailed the finding by the Mexicana researchers.

We highly doubt President Trump will ever mention this achievement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to comment on this remarkable finding.

While there’s more testing that will inevitably take place, we will have to wait and see how long it takes for other researchers and scientists to catch on to their method of treatment.

The fact that a woman-led team discovered this cure is something we should all be applauding.

Hopefully, their research will get more funding so they can further test patients and help educate others about their process.

According to the CDC,  79 million Americans, primarily teens and people in the early 20s, are infected with HPV. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. The way to prevent contracting HPV is by getting the vaccine — available for males and females — and by using condoms. However, you can still contract HPV because HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not adequately protect against getting HPV.

READ: Here Are A Handful Of Reasons Why We Need To Talk To Latinx Kids About S-E-X

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