Archive for January, 2008
I am not all that web-savvy, but I did learn how to create an RSS feed for the blog and an email subscription. So go ahead and sign up to use either feature to the right– it will keep you current on posts and happenings on Hijas Americanas.
What I love about being Latina: Big family gatherings — hearing English, Spanish, Spanglish and everything in between! Traveling to new places throughout Mexico and still feeling at home! How mariachi music can bring a tear to my eyes. When the sun kisses my skin with a bronze glow in the summer. Being a reporter for a growing Latino community and being a key player in covering the news that matters most to my people as they assimilate into society. .
What I love about being Americana: Living in a country that values women without the need of a pedestal. My right to vote and emerge myself into politics. The ability to work hard for what I want for myself and my family and to favor the immigration of people of all colors. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. The pursuit of happiness. Being married to a Marine who served our country for 5 years!
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: Breaking the misconception that I needed to have an accent to be a true Latina. Explaining to a few disbelievers that I do not in fact talk white, it’s just me speaking with my God-given voice.
I am timing myself on this one. Because I could go on way too long if I allowed myself. The hope I felt when I came across the Newsweek article earlier has been dampened a bit by coming across this other “news”. To briefly summarize, Keely Shaye Smith, the wife of Pierce Brosnan and a former actress and television correspondent, was photographed last week wearing a bikini that some people feel she should not have been wearing. Why, why, why do we care about how someone else looks in a bathing suit (why, really, do we care about how we look in a bathing suit but that’s a tangent)? Why does it matter if that someone is married to someone who was once People’s Most Beautiful person? Why do we rate and judge and jeer with such glee when someone else’s life isn’t what we expect of it? Why do we think that body is a domain that is up for grabs? Why do we reach out to touch the bellies of pregnant women, even if we don’t know them, even without asking? Why do we think that observations (or insults) about someone being “fat” are appropriate or helpful (I was with someone I love recently when that person was told by someone else that he/she had a fat ass. Was that supposed to be helpful?)? Not one of us is up for grabs. (more…)
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I felt a revolution was in the works with regards to pop culture beauty standards, so imagine my delight when I came across this article in Newsweek (which includes truths like: “People would like to see somebody up there who reflects how people on the street really look”).
A friend recently e-mailed to see what suggestions I had for her as she started a mentoring relationship with a girl in high school. Here were my thoughts. I hope you’ll add your suggestions, too! I think the most important things that you can do with a young person are share yourself, reinforce their strengths, and give them greater exposure to the world. Here are some ideas that might help facilitate those things:
Get her a journal. In fact, take her to a bookstore and let her pick out her very own journal. Every now and again, give her a prompt that you will also reflect on. The next time you get together, share your answers to the prompt.
Read a book together at the same time.
Go to the movies or a play/ performance together and then grab ice cream so you can discuss.
What I love about myself: My love of being a parent and ‘teacher’ to my children
My biggest challenge in accepting my body and beauty: practicing and believing in the philosophy that there are certain things you cannot change
My biggest support in learning to appreciate myself: believe it or not, my 3 ½ year old son sees things in me that I don’t and is always pointing out positives. He loves to learn and makes me appreciate my role as his teacher due to his eagerness!
Beauty is: Someone’s inside ability to find what positive attribute she wants to share with the world and make it shine through to the outside (more…)
The headlines yesterday morning announced a new Miss America. Today, they told us that she once suffered from an eating disorder. There was a period when I was in high school that my priorities were about anything but self-care. I wasn’t destructive the way that you might hear about with high school students– I didn’t drink, do any drugs, smoke. I wasn’t sexually risky (‘no, not at all’ some former beau is now agreeing). What I was, however, was focused to a fault. Whatever I was working on during any given moment got my full attention. And there were always issues, causes, projects, things that I was working on. And when I was focused, I did the worst possible thing to my body– I forgot to eat, sleep, drink plenty of water. I just moved, acted, worked. The gravity of this situation became apparent to me one Thursday evening during my senior year when I went to dinner with a group that had been working on coordinating a convention for schools from fifteen states that we would be hosting that weekend at our school. When my dinner arrived, I inhaled the chicken fingers placed in front of me. ”I am so hungry,” I said. One, two, three of them were gone in moments. And, then, the chicken revolted inside of me. I placed a hand on my stomach, ducked my head in nausea. ”I am done. Does anyone want these? They just aren’t sitting right.” A friend across the table looked at me, curious. “When was the last time you ate?” I thought about it. Thought about food for what felt like the first time in weeks. ”Tuesday,” I answered. “I last ate on Tuesday.” Hearing that answer horrified me and others at the table. On a scale the next week for the first time in months, maybe even years, I found out that I was 18% under my ideal minimum body weight. I was astonished. I hadn’t meant to lose weight. I wasn’t worried about my appearance. I just worried about other things so much more than I worried about caring for myself. A teacher approached me sometime during those weeks of revelation. “This,” she said– and we both knew that ‘this’ was the erasing of myself in order to maximize the time I had to be of service– “has got to stop.” And so it did. I worked over the course of six months to gain the almost 30 pounds I needed to gain to be at the minimum weight considered healthy for my size. While this experience was time driven and not weight driven, it did make me incredibly sensitive to the issue of eating disorders because I did know that my desire to do was driven by a sense that I wanted to be successful. And when you decide you want to be great at it all, something has to give. Too many of us give on self-care. So we have two things to talk about here, really, eating disorders and self-care.
“It’s about seeing the person first rather than forming ideas of who she is because of the way she looks.”
Just came across this interesting article about a project in Canada to look at body image through the lens of social inclusion and exclusion by exploring the experiences and feelings of women with facial and physical differences and disabilities.
When you think about what Western culture exports, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t body dissatisfaction. But a recent study shows that our Western media is playing an increasing role in how women around the world perceive themselves. The study looked at Australian young women and then two groups of young women in Pakistan– those who go to English-medium schools (meaning English is the language of instruction) and those who go to Urdu-medium schools. The data is interesting, and I was able to find an article on it from Pakistan and then an article on values, concerns, and resources for young women in Australia. What remains with me after reading these two pieces is “what do we do?” Of course, we need to start with ourselves and our loved ones. We know that social pressures from family and friends and weight-related criticism from these two groups create a significant amount of body dissatisfaction. For some of us, if we perceive that others are okay with us, we often are more willing to consider the possibility of being okay with ourselves. It’s a shame that not everyone’s personal standard of worth comes from self-assessment but, right now, I want to talk about how we each influence others’ self-perception. (more…)
What I love about being Latina:I love all things Latin. The food is delectable; the culture is colorful and rich; the people are strong and beautiful; the language is romantic poetry and the countries are picturesque.
What I love about being Americana: The freedom! The freedom to express what you think, what you see, and what you hear with your own unique voice. As Maya Angelou said, there is no agony like hearing an untold story inside of you. In America, you have the opportunity to tell your story, or the stories of others, uncensored.