Latinitas - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

Last week I sat on one of those awesome spinny chairs at the salon with sweaty hands and a knot in my stomach. I’d thought about this moment for months, looked up many haircut examples on pinterest and tumblr, and read a number of articles on the hot hair trends of 2013. Finally I was doing it. I was going to make the cut!

By ‘the cut,’ I mean lopping off my below the shoulder hair to a short, just below the ears, asymmetrical bob. We’re talking inches here, people! Inches of hair I’d been letting grow out for years, firmly asking for “just a trim” every time I went for a haircut. Hair which I was determined to make look like Sophia Vergara’s, or JLo’s, or Eva Longoria’s. In my mind that kind of hair was the marker of Latina beauty. Long, shiny, thick, and wavy: that was real Latina hair to me.So I spent years growing it out, thinking maybe if I just kept letting it grow some day I’d wake up to find I had the Latina celebrity hair I wanted so badly.    

There are a couple of problems with the way I was thinking. First, the Latina celebrity hair I wanted was exactly that: celebrity hair. When JLo or Longoria graced the cover of Cosmo or InStyle Magazine with beautiful hair it was because a team of professionals had just spent a lot of time getting their hair to look that way. I don’t know about you, but I have neither a team of pros or lots of time on the daily to spend on my hair (sigh). So bottom line, my hair just is’nt going to look like that.

Second, I was idealizing a particular type of hair and thinking of it as the best type of hair a Latina could have. Obviously this is crazy! If I look at the Latinas in my life, they all have different types of hair and hairstyles, and they are all  beautiful! Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever looking at my family members or friends and thinking, “huh, she would look way better if she had Sophia Vergara hair”. I only really thought that about myself. While I believed all the Latinas around me were beautiful, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. I was afraid I wasn’t beautiful, and I was afraid I didn’t look Latina enough. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was wrong.

Latinas have all sorts of types of hair and they are all beautiful. But I was getting caught up in a Hollywood make-believe version of what a Latina should look like. I had been clinging to a false idea of Latina beauty and trying to look like other Latinas instead of embracing my own beauty. Now I'm embarrassed that I thought I needed to wear my hair a certain way to look good or look Latina enough. But that's the truth. I wanted people to look at me and think I was pretty and know that I'm a proud Latina. And I knew that Latinas in the media tend to look a certain way and that that certain look requires long luscious hair. So instead of judging the way I looked by my values I began to judge the way I looked by the values of the media, fashion, and beauty industries. How silly! 

But I wanted to change all that. So I stopped thinking about what I  thought my hair should look like, and started thinking about what I wanted in a haircut. I realized that I wanted something cute but edgy that was easy to take care of. What I wanted was to cut my hair short! So taking my face shape and hair type into consideration I picked the specific haircut that I have now. And you know what? I look fabulous!


What about you? Have you ever felt like you needed to wear you hair, make-up, or clothes a certain way to be a beautiful Latina?


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Comment by Rebecca Isabel Jackson on October 7, 2013 at 9:32am

Diana, thanks for you comment! Whoa now I want to buzz my hair!! I think your observation is super important - hair is totally tied to gender in ways that can feel really restraining. And you're also right that confidence is attractive! Something that was really hard for me to do in high school (thankfully I've gotten better at this since then) was dong anything that I thought would make guys like me less. I knew then, even if i never admitted it or said it out loud, that the most certain way of gaining social influence was to have guys like me and have influence over them. Isn't that sad? But now that I've realized that - I'm trying to push against that way of thinking and free myself up to do what I want regardless of what people (but mostly men) will think. This haircut is just my latest experiment in that effort. And I feel kinda silly making this cut such a big deal but that's honestly how it feels to me. Which is more a  testament to the power of sexism than it is to any shortcomings on my part. 

Comment by Diana Payne on September 30, 2013 at 2:28pm

Kudos for embracing such a drastic change! In high school I had very long hair (talking mid-back length), and the shortest I had ever cut it was maybe a couple of inches above the shoulder. Then I left for college and got a pixie cut (it was totally rad), and then my sophomore year I buzzed it off (which was also totally rad haha). I'm very easy going about my hair, and I figure if I don't like it, it will grow back. ;P

The thing that got me, though, was that whenever I would go in to get such drastic cuts, the stylist would always ask me, "Now you're sure you want to do this? No, I mean, are you sure? Like, sure-sure?" I think they were more scared than I was. And I think that says a lot about how much something like long hair is tied to femininity and attractiveness and it makes people slightly uncomfortable when you try to go against that. In general, guys didn't seem to like my very short hair styles, but I got so many compliments from other women.

I think rocking short hair shows a lot of confidence, and a healthy dose of confidence is nothing if not attractive. :)




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