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Latinas Explain How Comments Like ‘Negrita’ And ‘Mejorar La Raza’ Affected Their Body Image

Words can stick with you.  Of course, not everything that a someone says or does can be directly tied to how we see ourselves. Impractical body ideals, societal norms, and genetics can have a huge hand in the ways we see ourselves as women and ultimately view and appreciate our bodies. Still, when it comes to our satisfaction with our physical appearances, studies have shown time and again that the greatest factor in how we see ourselves, even more influential than Barbie’s body proportions or the impractical images of Victoria Secret models, comes straight out of our mother’s mouths.

For Latinas, messages tied to our mothers own experiences and cultures, ones that come in the form of comments like “eat it because when I was growing up I didn’t have it” and nicknames like “flaca” or “gordita” can affect the way we diet and love our bodies. For a closer look at both the positive and negative ways our mother’s comments affect us, FIERCE talked to six Latinas about the ways in which their personal views of their bodies were impacted by their mothers.

Wandy, New York City

“Interestingly enough, my mother and I are about the same height, five feet tall, and we’ve pretty much always been around the same size. For most of our lives, we’ve been trading out our wardrobe with each other and circulating the same pieces between us—some even that she had when she was younger that I now wear. Because of this, whenever my mom feels like she might not be in the best shape, or that there’s something about her body she wants to change, those questions always go right back to me and my own body. If she’s upset that she’s in a size 12 instead of a 6 should I be upset too if I fit into everything she owns? On top of that, we have the same name and we look almost identical, so a lot of the time it’s like looking in a living breathing mirror of body-doubting and wondering ‘if she hates her body, should I hate mine right now too?'” – Wandy

Taylor, San Antonio

“I’m Black, the darkest amongst my family, and from an interracial Latinx family so I grew up around a lot of old school Hispanics who’d try to tell me to ‘mejorar la raza’ and call me negrita and shit. My mom would have none of it and I really appreciate that. She would stand up for me but also tell me how beautiful my skin was. I think a lot of people think that because I’m Afro-Latina I grew up with all kinds of insecurities about my skin, but growing up I literally thought I could be a model one day and that had everything to do with how my mom would talk to me and constantly call my skin beautiful.” – Taylor

Victoria, Los Angeles

“Growing up I’ve always struggled with my weight. Being a plus size Latina never seemed out of place but being constantly reminded to focus on whether or not I was losing or gaining weight ultimately turned into a constant internal battle in myself. My mom’s words were never hurtful but the constant reminders certainly stuck with me in high school and throughout college. One thing I can thank her for is my confidence, however, I wish I could have had those similar lessons by having her educate me on how to take care of my body and think about food a little more intentionally.” – Victoria

Irina, Miami

“I love my mom, but I realized through therapy a few years ago that I have serious body issues because of her. In particular, with my thighs. I can’t remember when it first happened, but I remember my mom telling me when I was very young that I had “large thighs.” They were called fat, big, thick, large, etc, throughout my entire childhood and it’s definitely affected me in a negative way. Even today, after I lost 100 pounds years ago, I still hate my thighs. I am trying to learn to love them, but it’s really difficult. My mom still tells me that my thighs are fat, but then tells me that I’ve gotten too skinny. To be honest, I’ve never been at a good enough weight for her. I’ve only either been too fat or too thin. It’s really painful sometimes.” – Irina

Monica, Los Angeles

“I’ve always had hips and an ass. Since I was literally like eleven I’ve just been shaped curvier than my friends, who were tiny. So when we’d all go shopping, we’d end up buying the same type of stuff, and from places that were popular like Hollister but made sizes for straight figures. So I’d come home with the same stuff my friends bought, cute shorts, mini skirts and my mom would always want to tell me the same shorts that looked normal on my friends looked super sexual and revealing on me. So from the time I was super young like middle school even through my early twenties, I’d put certain things on and my mom would say ‘you can’t wear the same type of clothes your friends wear because your body is different” and it looks ‘more sexual or revealing on you.’ Of course, my mom would always tell me that I was beautiful and that my body was beautiful, so it’s not like she necessarily shamed me for it, but it definitely made me very aware of my curviness and the fact that my thighs and butt were bigger than most of the friends I had, so it kind of made me self-conscious, as if it was my body’s fault that others would perceive something I was just wearing as sexual when that’s not what I was going for. It made me extremely hyper-aware of how men perceived me and how they’d act around me.” – Monica

Emmy, New York City

“I come from divorced parents, my dad is black and Jamaican my mom is a white Latina from El Salvador. I think there were a lot of things related to their separation and resentment that kind of fed into the things my mom would say about my body. To her, everything about it was ‘hard’ to keep up with. My hair was hard, my dark ashy legs were hard. They were all things I got from my father and she constantly reminded me of how much she hated that. She and my abuela did a lot of telling me not to be out in the sun for too long as well. Of course, that stuff sticks with me. I still struggle with relaxing my hair while a lot of my black friends are doing big chops and letting their natural hair grow out and I dread it when I get a sunburn in the summer.” – Emmy


Read: I Didn’t Believe My Mami When She Told Me I’d Regret Not Going To Prom — But It’s 10 Years Later And She Was Right

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Moms Are Sharing Videos Of How To Make Their Comida For Their College-Bound Kids After A Mom’s Burrito-Folding Video Went Viral

El Amor

Moms Are Sharing Videos Of How To Make Their Comida For Their College-Bound Kids After A Mom’s Burrito-Folding Video Went Viral

Last week, California Polytechnic State University student, April Olvera posted a video sent to her by her mamá, and the video went viral, already wracking up nearly ten million views, and nearly one million likes in less than seven days.

Olvera, away at college, texted her mom, Silvia Dominguez, to say that she didn’t know how to fold a burrito, and her mom sent her a video that contained a soothing video-folding lesson.

While some couldn’t help but wonder why Olvera didn’t know how to fold a burro, her mamí’s special brand of cariño shown in the forty-second burrito-folding lesson was the focus of the comments that followed.

Other Latinas needed the lesson too!

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Another Latina Twitter user, couldn’t get over the way Olvera’s mother, Silvia, repeated the lesson.

Twitter

Two guys commented on Olvera’s mom’s soothing voice, but we think @carys_arsenic nailed it.

Twitter

And this guy too who points out Ms. Dominguez’s calm in the face of a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams.

Twitter

When Olvera told her mother that her video went viral and inspired so many positive comments, Dominguez said, “Maybe it’s not the burrito. Maybe it’s about family and love.”

Burrito-folding-lesson mom, Silvia Dominguez, speaks Spanish in the video, smiling the whole time, clearly happy to be able to help her daughter away at college with anything, using her own phone propped up on the counter to capture the lesson.

“Okay,” she says in Spanish, holding up a corn tortilla, “Imagine that this is my flour tortilla. Add what you’re going to use, fold it from this side, fold it from that side, and roll it. Did you see that?

And then she unrolls the burro and repeats the steps: It’s a circle. Fold it here, fold it here, and roll it. Nice! Okay, bye. I love you.”

We also like how Burrito-Folding-Lesson Mom is even helping grown-ass men.

Twitter
Twitter

And because imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, here’s a video made by the author for her son on his way to college in the fall.


Read :Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

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I Replaced Accounts That Made Me Aspire to Look a Certain Way I Couldn’t Naturally With Ones That Inspired Me To Flaunt My Body

fierce

I Replaced Accounts That Made Me Aspire to Look a Certain Way I Couldn’t Naturally With Ones That Inspired Me To Flaunt My Body

Lately, I’ve been fielding direct messages and comments on my Instagram insinuating that I’m a curve model. “You’re my favorite curvy influencer,” read one DM. “You should really have a bigger following for your work,” commented another, “my work” being the photos my friends take of me and not the public writing I do for a living. This kind, though misguided, commentary started taking place as I began increasingly posting photos of myself that revealed skin, shots in bathing suits, crop tops and shorts, over the last few months. Before then, my pictures showed me in t-shirts, long-sleeve tops and jeans, clothes that covered up all my jiggly body parts. There are a lot of reasons behind my recent interest in switching up my wardrobe and showing more carne — I moved to a city with a warmer climate, my income has increased and I wanted to glow up after a bad breakup — but the biggest motivation might actually be the very platform where I’m receiving all these messages: Instagram, or rather my community on the social network that has inspired me to embrace my figure as it is.

Social media, especially image-driven platforms like Instagram, aren’t always safe for women like me, those who are in recovery from an eating disorder. In the seven years that I’ve been using the app, I’ve noticed myself participating in some unhealthy behaviors, from following women I wish I looked like and obsessively comparing all of my flaws with their assets to perusing through fitness hashtags that I know could lead me back down a scary path of over-exercising. Because of this, over the years, I’ve taken a few breaks from social media and have done a whole lot of unfollowing accounts that make me feel bad about myself and my appearance. Not too long ago, I began replacing those accounts that made me aspire to look a certain way I couldn’t naturally with ones that inspired me to accept and flaunt my body as it is.

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From body liberation pages like Nalgona Positive Pride, to fat acceptance writers like Virgie Tovar and Yesika Salgado to conscious curve models like Denise Bidot and Vanessa Romo, my Instagram feed was sending me messages that reified my morning affirmations and midday mantras: my body, in its natural state, is whole, is good, is beautiful. These digital notes were particularly helpful on days when I was already feeling good or indifferent about myself. But during the times when I was so deep in my body image funk, feeling like complete shit to the point that ignoring my ED’s begs to return to bad habits felt impossible, they weren’t as useful. If my parents telling me my entire life how beautiful I am didn’t prevent, or stop, me from harming myself into a figure I thought was acceptable, then messages, however nice the typography is, directed to a mass audience and created by someone who doesn’t know me, what I look like or what I’m struggling with definitely aren’t going to deter me from self-hate.

In those moments, I needed community — people who knew me, folks who understood what it’s like to fall asleep every night with tears of self-loath, friends who were honest with me, loved ones who cared about my best interests and well-being, femmes who saw me, all of me, and still genuinely thought that I was bomb af. You don’t get that with a meme floating around on Instagram, but I learned about two years ago that you can achieve that when you use the digital platform to build a real network of supportive and empowering girlfriends.

That’s my Instagram community: my mamis who celebrate my wins, whether they’re related to economics, career, relationships, mental health or miscellaneous goals like learning how to ignite a lighter, hold me when I’m broken and big me up just for being me on any given day. With their constant reminders to “fuck it up,” “get it” and “werk” or feel-good jokes that they are “dead,” having “palpitations” or don’t know how they’re going to “put out the fire” from my photos, they inspire me to buy more clothes that accentuate, not disguise, my figure, to pose for a camera with confidence, to believe, even if just for a few days, hours or minutes, that I, too, am beautiful, to embrace this body, this face, this struggle always — because it’s mine.

I’m not a curve model, but I am a curvy woman who has modeled her Instagram off of the love, affirmations and boldness of a beautiful community that holds me down day in and day out.

Read: Latinas Opened Up About Their Complicated Relationships With Their Thighs And Here’s What Happened

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