Hispanic women tend to have a different genetic make-up, shape and bone structure. With our hourglass figures, curvy hips and voluptuous nature, we have a shape that we cannot hide—a shape that shows.
For many Latina women, including one such as myself, this was a shape that I was always trying to hide; it was a shape that I was not proud of. I grew up in a decade where supermodels such as Cindy Crawford and Kelley LeBrock (film: “Weird Science”) were the ideal women during the 80’s—à la: “thin is in”. Although my family would encourage me to eat pasta, empanadas, arepas and other ethnic foods pertinent to my Colombian-Italian culture, I was too fixated on fitting into that mold society had created; a mold, that until recently, one from which I could not break free.
Unlike today, I did not have many Latina role models available to look up to; as a result, weight loss and acceptance of my curves was a constant struggle for me. I remember trying to cover up my curves with baggy pants and lose fitting clothing. Later in life, as an adult, many of those insecurities followed me. Even though I began to embrace my curves, I was still consumed with those preconceived notions of what I should look like. It was not until recently, after having spoken with reality star Nikki Gomez of “Big and Sexy,” she impressed upon me that I should not let them dominate my life. Even though she was bombarded with the message of “thin is in,” she still managed to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of herself while embracing her curves. Using her mother as an example, she explained (to me) that her mother was her best role-model of curvy beauty. With full hips, thighs and a small waist, she looked at her overall figure hoping that she would grow up to be as beautiful as her mother was.
This idea was reinforced while having dinner with family at 90 miles, a Cuban restaurant located in Chicago .As I took a bite out of my Churassco, Yucca Frita and Platano, the guilt set in. I looked over at my daughter and saw her going to town on her food. Witnessing my daughter eat without guilt made me realize that I was too obsessed with my own body image to enjoy the delicacies of life. As I took in my surroundings, noticing the women of all shapes and sizes who surrounded me, I began to rethink of what it means to be Latina. It made me recall images of Cindy Crawford, and how I yearned to be a size 6. I then began to realize that my views were outdated. How I spent countless hours trying to achieve that perfect BMI (Body Mass Index), yet was too blind to see the beauty of being Latina.
“I think it’s important to look to our family members as role models,” explained Nikki. “We come from strong, proud, beautiful women… Those are the women we should look to as examples of beauty.”
With the help of Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, America Ferrera, and Nikki Gomez, I realized that being Latina is much more than a size—it is a way of life. Those women exude a confidence that cannot be measured using a particular dress size. By embracing their heritage, culture and body image, those women are changing the perception of what it means to be a role model for Latina women today. “My main motivation for being a part of “Big Sexy” was to hopefully inspire women to embrace and love their curves,” said Nikki. “It’s so rewarding to see that I have been able to achieve that on some level,” she also said.
What was once taboo in American culture is now being recognized and embraced by the masses; Latina women can now enjoy a piece of our culture without having to step on the scale, or measure up to outdated ideals of the past.
“We can only hope that the mainstream media eventually realizes this, and gives us even more examples of curvy Latin beauty—but in the meantime, we have to look within, and see ourselves for the beauties we are,” said Nikki.
[photo by satin_shirt]