A M’ija to Meet: Elena, Peruvian-Colombian-New Yorker

December 12, 2007 at 9:24 pm 6 comments

elena-gil.jpg


What I love about being Latina:  Even though I am realizing more and more that it is inadequate to try to put a label on people, especially a group as diverse in class, ‘race’, ethnicity, color, geographic location, generation and ideology as “Latinos,” I do like self-identifying as a Latina and being perceived as one for different reasons.  One is that the inherent ambiguity of what it is to be a Latina allows me to more easily break all preconceived stereotypes and challenge people’s notions of “Latino-ness” without compromising my identity.  I am vegetarian, multi-lingual, a dancer, a singer, a law student, a sister, a daughter, a New Yorker, Peruvian, Colombian, progressive, competitive, ambitious, socially conscious, raw-food loving, rice-disliking, alcohol-free, a world traveler, curious — and all of it adds to the richness of the evolving Latina identity.  In fact, I love being able to contribute to all of these identities. 

What I love about being Americana:  I love living here because I am close to my South American roots and get to travel there often.  I also like that by virtue of my being born in this country (the US) I contribute to the evolving notion of what it is to be a “US” Americana. 


My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in the US: is being pigeonholed into certain roles by virtue of being labeled “Latina,” by virtue of being a “woman” and a person who is noticeably non-white.  I had to overcome feelings of internalized racism when I grew up partially because I did not see any role models, media figures, or people in power who looked like me. 

My biggest support in growing up Latina in US:  School and the public library.  By learning about other non-Euro-centered ways of thinking I learned a lot about my own self-identification, my pre-conceived notions and prejudices.  Through critical theory, I continue to learn and re-evaluate my ways of thinking.  I question apparently benign-traditions and cultural norms.  While this may seem destabilizing to some, for me it has resulted in much more self-acceptance and creativity and drive to increase understanding between all peoples and of myself.

Why I am beautiful:  I am beautiful because I always try to think of how my actions will affect others and other sentient beings.  I don’t do drugs, don’t drink, eat as healthy as possible and meditate which allows me to see the true beauty in the simplest things.  I try to free myself from wastefulness and addictive behavior and this, I feel, has made me feel the most beautiful that I’ve ever felt in my life. 

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. fightingwindmills  |  December 12, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Nice to meet you Elena. I love so much of what you’ve said here. You are gorgeous!

    Reply
  • 2. Hiro  |  December 15, 2007 at 6:24 am

    Beautiful….

    Reply
  • 3. Jesse Macias  |  December 15, 2007 at 7:10 am

    Wow! This is a m’ija anyone would be delighted to meet, i’m sure. I admit, I have had the honor and it only gets better.

    Reply
  • 4. Lily  |  December 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    very very nice! love it!
    Lily

    Reply
  • 5. Carlos H  |  December 16, 2007 at 6:29 am

    I happen to know this intelligent and beautiful colombian-peruvian-american latina for many years becuse she happens to be my daughter. Myself, her sisters and her abuela are very proud of her and all her achievements even though we don’t get to see her as often as we would like.
    PS: Lila Call home

    Reply
  • 6. Elena  |  January 11, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you everyone! Happy New Year!

    Reply

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What does it mean to be beautiful in America? For years, pop culture has insisted that beautiful women are tall, thin, and blonde. So what do you do if your mirror reflects olive skin, raven hair, and a short build? Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina offers a provocative account of the struggles and triumphs of Latina forced to reconcile these conflicting realities. Rosie Molinary combines her own experience with the voices of hundreds of Latinas who grew up in the US navigating issues of gender, image, and sexuality. This empathetic ethnography exemplifies the ways in which our experiences are both profoundly individualistic and comfortingly universal.
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