20 Ways My Latinidad Influenced My Understanding Of Beauty Norms
When I was growing up, I remember hearing all of the stories of how my abuela made it a point to always wear heels and make sure that she had a full face of make-up while she was working. My other abuelita was the same and, to this day, tells me that I should make sure to wear makeup in order to look good in front of my husband. Like any feminist, though, I have to sometimes remind her that my husband loves me whether or not I am wearing eyeshadow. Even so, I do love makeup.
I grew up surrounded by it, in fact. Although my mami was never quite the makeup type (funnily enough), she did teach me that a woman must always be presumida. To her, that meant that we always had to be presentable and done up. Once I began to develop my own interest in beauty, she taught me what that meant and, between her and the Latinas I saw on TV, my standards of beauty were formed — heavily influenced by my Latinidad. And I know I’m not the only one to have this experience, which is why I am sharing the 20 ways that my Latinidad influenced my understanding of beauty norms. Although I’ve learned a lot in the years since (including that Latinas come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and hair types), a lot of these experiences of growing up still hold true to today.
1. My ears were pierced when I was a baby.kiko_dadarl/Instagram
One of the things that many Latinas experience when they’re little is getting their ears pierced. That was certainly me and what happened to many of my Latina friends. I have to admit: This was so prevalent when I was younger that I’m still a bit surprised whenever I meet someone (especially a Latina) who doesn’t have her ears pierced.
2. Bangs were a HUGE priority when I was younger.erikalsanchez/Instagram
Do you remember 90s bangs? I do. Almost every single photo of me when I was younger included 90s bangs, and many of us have stuck by them. These days, I don’t personally go for the blunt-cut type but I know many Latinas who are still very much rocking this look.
3. Everything was fixed with Vicks VapoRub.emilia_giugliano/Instagram
And when I say “everything,” I really do mean everything. It was a healing agent for whenever you were feeling sick, but also something I used in my beauty routine as a teen whenever I had acne or my skin felt dry. What, didn’t you do that too?
4. Having a really big updo for school dances was the thing.hairbyrebecca_/Instagram
If you asked my mother, there wasn’t a party that didn’t deserve an updo. Although I didn’t like updos for just casual birthdays (though I knew other Latinas who did this), I always made sure to have one for school dances. Honestly, I don’t understand how kids these days just wear their hair down.
5. So was having perfectly manicured nails.panarican_nails/Instagram
Perfectly manicured nails were basically a must when I was growing up. In fact, they’re still a thing for me today. I love having my nails done and it’s definitely my go-to treat whenever I am feeling a little down. Honestly, even now, my mami stills yells at me if I have chipped nail polish… cause moms.
6. Frizzy hair products were my go-to.themaximista/Instagram
When John Frieda came out with his frizzy hair stuff, it was a godsend. I was so thrilled to finally have the answer as to WHAT TO DO whenever I went outside during a humid summer day. I have since hated humidity and still marvel whenever I travel anywhere that isn’t humid, since my hair ends up looking so much better just by virtue of not being so close to the water.
7. So was dealing with some kind of curl.ms.cynthializet/Instagram
My hair isn’t super curly, to be honest. It’s mostly got a really weird wave that you can barely see when it’s short, and that gets a bit out of control when it’s long. But I know many Latinas who had curly hair in many variations. It was a pain to learn how to deal with your specific hair type and curl… but just another day in the life of a Latina, I guess.
8. Compliments for my eyelashes were pretty standard.makeupxgenie/Instagram
One of the nicer things about being a Latina is our eyelashes. I mean, I don’t want to stereotype, but almost every Latina I know has long, gorgeous lashes. I get compliments on mine all the time. From the women who wax my eyebrows to just casual acquaintances, it’s nice for them to notice.
9. Hating my booty was normal until JLo came along.royals24inc/Instagram
The 90s were kind of rough for us curvy girls. Sure, not every Latina is curvy, but living through those stick-figure model days was really difficult for me. I felt bad about my thighs pretty much 24/7. It wasn’t until JLo came on the scene that we as a society began to appreciate us curvy girls and booties like mine.
10. I rarely went anywhere without red lipstick.msirinagonzalez/Instagram
I didn’t really understand the Latina fascination with red lipstick until I tried it myself in college. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t beforehand but, once I did, I fell in love. It has since become my absolute go-to. I especially love it on lazy days when I don’t have a whole lot of time for the rest of my makeup but still want a pop of color.
11. And did I mention how great pedicures are?yenii_nails/Instagram
Just like manicures, pedicures are a must. Or at least they became a must in my life as my mami taught me about beauty. Out of all the various forms of self-care there are out there, they are definitely at the top of my list.
12. My outfit wasn’t complete without a spritz (or five) or perfume.resa0313/Instagram
Somewhere around puberty, my mami taught me the value of smelling good. I know that might sound kind of silly but, the truth is, perfume can be really wonderful. I know many friends who are absolute perfume masters. They’re all about the way that perfume makes us smell so lovely and, even better, makes us feel more like ourselves. At least that’s what it is like for me.
13. I couldn’t afford fancy facials, so I just did it at home.kocostar/Instagram
Although I occasionally have a really fancy facial these days, especially if I can find a good deal on Groupon, when I was younger, that wasn’t the thing. However, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t do my own facials at home — and I did, and often still do. Whether it’s a simple at-home face mask or a face steam (when you boil a pot of water, pour it in a bowl, and put your face over it so that it’ll open up your pores), there’s just something fun about that at-home spa feeling.
14. Wearing a faja for a well-defined waist was pretty standard.curvy_shop/Instagram
If you didn’t grow up wearing a faja, then you might consider yourself lucky. I didn’t wear one all that much but it was still sometimes an important tool for accentuating my waist. At least that’s what my mami taught me all of those times she assured me it was needed. To be honest, though, I never liked them all that much and haven’t worn one in half a dozen years.
15. There’s no such thing as an all black wardrobe.anaisalesya/Instagram
I know very few Latinas who don’t love bright colors when dressing. Again, I hate to generalize, but I grew up with a colorful wardrobe. Even my Latina friends that live in NYC (the capital of high fashion) can’t stand wearing just one plain color all the time. Instead, I make color a daily part of my life — whether that’s in my makeup choices or my wardrobe choices.
16. Long hair was really important.saramendozza/Instagram
My mami begged me to grow my hair long when I was younger and I obliged. I loved the way it looked and felt but, eventually, I got tired of always having to put it in a braid overnight. Why? Because my hair was so frizzy that if I didn’t do that, I would wake up with knots everywhere. So I cut my hair short and medium-length hair still remains my favorite, though long hair can be a nice dream if I didn’t hate dealing with it so much.
17. And so was experimenting with different cuts, styles, and colors.pulpriothair/Instagram
I know some Latinas who never, ever touch their hair and that’s cool. But some of us are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Instead, I pretty much change my hair as often as possible. I love getting new cuts, trying new styles, and experimenting with new colors. It’s an honest joy to always look a little different.
18. Doing a cat eye has always been the easiest go-to.nanirico92/Instagram
Other than a red lip, the thing you will most often see on me is a cat eye. Why? Because they’re simple yet sophisticated and typically help to emphasize my long eyelashes. It’s still my go-to for a quick and easy (and impressive) make-up touch.
19. Finding the right moisturizer can be pure torture.beat.ti.ful_makeup/Instagram
Do you know what my biggest complaint is as a Latina? My uneven skin. Sure, some of us are lucky but some of us (like me) are born with combination skin that changes all. of. the. time. In the summer, my skin tone is darker, my forehead is oilier and my cheeks are dry but not too badly. In the winter, I am pale and my cheeks are as all hell and my forehead is still oily. What the heck?!
20. You have to trim your hair on the full moon.browsby_niecy/Instagram
This is just a legend, but it’s one that I learned from my mami early on. She told me that, in order for my hair to grow healthy and long, I had to trim it on the full moon. I also need to make sure that my hairstylist has a soft touch because apparently, that has something to do with the fact that my hair will grow faster… If she has a hard touch, then my hair will take FOREVER to grow. True story.
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