Thursday, September 15, 2016

Life as a Latina

Members of my family have always had a tendency of commenting and fixating on physical appearance. And to be completely honest, it's always bothered me. A lot. However, it wasn't until this class that I realized that these tendencies aren't unique to my family. There is a broader tendency in Latino culture/families to comment on your physical appearance before they notice anything else. At family reunions the comments range but are not limited to:
"You look good but have you gained a little weight?"
"You look tired!"
"Oh so-and-so is doing well but he's gained a lot of weight!"
I guess I had always thought that these comments were exclusive to my family but after hearing the same thing from Dr. A, I see that it is a widespread trend. Latin American culture is obsessed with looks and it seems as though personal value derives from it. For example, it doesn't matter how accomplished a person is if they aren't looking their personal best**.  When I was accepted to college and received scholarship offers, I was complimented for being pretty first, and smart second. When I told family members that I had been awarded a scholarship to study abroad in Brazil, they fixated on the fact that I had a coldsore and looked "run down" after my first year of college. After watching several episodes of Betty La Fea, I see that these attitudes run rampant throughout Latin American society. Betty's academic and professional accomplishments have no value because she's "ugly." And she knows it. She expresses in multiple occasions that she will never be hired by a serious agency(regardless of the fact that she is overqualified for her position) based purely on her status as an "undesirable woman." The sad thing is that Betty la Fea meant to criticise Colombian society for its obsession on physical appearance 20 years ago and based on the interactions I have with my family,  little has changed. I've had several instances where I've tried to show my family how shallow and hurtful these judgements are, but unfortunately, my efforts have only resulted in arguments.


  1. Hey Izzy!

    Great blog post - I just had to comment on this one because, although I am of Vietnamese decent, I completely relate to you! How strange is it that Vietnam and Colombia could not be more different in culture, but somehow societies of lesser developed countries tend to have similar social critiques of one another? In Vietnam, you'll rarely find an obese person because almost all citizens live under the poverty line. However, if you do or if you stumble across a tourist who is, you call them "healthy". When your children or your relatives' children start look "too healthy" it is always your job as an aunt, grandma, second cousin twice removed, etc. to verbally let that be known. It's just crazy to me that countries that can't even afford plastic surgery or afford to be concerned with their looks, somehow end up being the ones that are the most obsessed with image.

  2. Izzy---

    A lot of Columbia culture reminds me of my family. My grandmother is the most racist and judging person I've ever met. She isn't afraid to tell someone they need to lose weight, to put on make up, to buy better clothes, and racist comments about your friends of other races.

    I think it's hard because the older generations have those set ways. It was interesting to see that in the older telenovelas we watched in class because I thought of my family as well.