What makes you proud of being a woman but also a Latina?
Women are amazing. Our resilience, our strength, our compassion, our beauty, the list goes on and on. I'm proud that I have the fighter spirit of a Latina. You always hear of Latinas being described as "fiery" and "feisty" and I think that it holds true. While we feel the need to nurture and take care of others, we can hold our own and fight like hell when we need to.
Is there someone you look up to?
I look up to women who are unapologetically themselves and women who have the ability to say "no" without having to explain themselves. I think this year has taught me the importance of this. We need to normalize being able to say "no" without feeling guilty. I also look up to the women that are challenging sexism even across generations. A saying that I've heard my mother and grandmother use is "calladita te ves más bonita," and I couldn't disagree more with that statement. We need to be vocal, we need to be loud, we shouldn't be expected to sit still, be quiet, and look pretty. Women across all cultures are expected to carry so much but who is looking out for them, for us? We need to look out for ourselves and for each other. As said by Como La Latina, ¡mujeres lift each other up!
Do you feel Latino culture has had a big impact on who you are?
Of course. I grew up in a border town but it wasn't until I moved to the Midwest 4 years ago that I really learned to appreciate my culture. Once you don't see a taco truck every half mile or can't find real, fresh tortillas and queso fresco in the store, you realize you can't take these things for granted! I always think back to the dialogue in the movie Selena when Edward James Olmos is telling Jennifer Lopez that as a Mexican-American we have to be "more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time." I've gotten some negative commentary because my Spanish isn't perfect, or because I was born and raised in the States, my Latin identity is seen as "watered down." This type of commentary has given me a bigger sense of pride because it has challenged me to want to learn more about that part of myself. That's something I intend to work on personally.
Do you have any current projects you are working on and accomplishments that you would like to talk about?
Self-improvement, self-improvement, self-improvement. This year has been about survival and introspection. A few weeks ago, I was featured on the Instagram story for a plus-size lingerie line (small, black, female -owned business!) that I buy from religiously. It may not seem like a big deal but I'll be turning 30 in October and I am FINALLY starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. I may not always feel this way, but every day that I do is an accomplishment. In the last few months, I've taken up an interest in witchcraft (I know what you're thinking, "¡brujeria!" but hear me out). Witchcraft is considered to be the practice of magic for the use of spells and rituals. What kinds of spells and rituals? Anything that helps you manifest what you want. Do you drink coffee every morning and think about what you want your day to look like? That's a ritual. Do you go to bed and think about what you are grateful for and ask your higher power to watch over your loved ones? That's a ritual. When doing yoga, do you put on your favorite music, drink tea, light some candles and then set an intention for your practice? This can be considered as part of casting a spell. The word "witch" has had a negative connotation for centuries but only because men were afraid (and still are afraid) of women in their power. Women who have the power to use herbal medicine and natural remedies to heal, who are independent, who have a group of friends made up of other bad-ass women. A witch knows that her strength comes from surrounding herself with the right people, channeling the right energy, and manifesting her goals into reality. Channel your inner witch, girl. Fight the patriarchy, burn it down!
Do you have any words of advice and encouragement to future generations of all women?
My biggest advice is to take up space. Take up all the space that you need and never shrink yourself to fit into someone else's box. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you are too loud, too bitter, too aggressive, too anything. Channel your energy and manifest it to its full potential. Don't hide your magic. Surround yourself with the right people, including people that love you but also challenge you. You are your own biggest critic, so speak kindly to yourself. And always, ALWAYS get the dessert. ¡Viva la mujer!