Mi Vida Latina
Fifteen years old and I was still a stick. “I thought Latinas were supposed to be curvy,” I’d reproach myself while looking in the mirror.
Every day I’d scrutinize my body, but saw no change. My chest was as small as ever – two miniature pears. Not the round melons they were supposed to be. And my hips? What hips? Sure, I had hip bones, but there was no fleshy roundness to engulf them. I wanted to be like that girl in the El General song: “Parece una botella de Coca-Cola.” Instead, I looked more like a Coca-Cola can.
My fully-endowed best friend was my advisor. “Eat yams. I always hear women saying it goes straight to their hips.” So I did, even though I hate yams.
“Do chest pump exercises,” she’d tell me and then demonstrate by putting her hands together in front of her chest and squeezing repeatedly. Her breasts bounced around playfully. My turn: I squeezed over and over again, but mine barely moved.
“I hear they grow bigger when they’re rubbed a lot,” she’d say as she was off to see her boyfriend. With no interested boy in sight to do the honor, I did it myself, but it just wasn’t the same.
A year later, I’d given up. I’d stopped looking in the mirror, resigned myself to having the body of a blancita. It just wasn’t meant to be, I told myself. But, one day I was walking past the kitchen counter, like I’d done many times before, when I banged my hip right into the corner of it – BAM! I grabbed my hip in pain, but stopped whining when I realized this was a sign.
I ran into my room, pulled down my pants and checked my hips. Something had grown while I hadn’t been paying attention. Where there was bone, now there was a thin layering of fat. I did a happy dance. Odd to be dancing for joy over gaining some fat, but this was the good kind of fat. It was fat where I needed it to be.
As I grew into womanhood, I realized that I’d never be as busty or as “booty-full” as I thought Latinas should be. My hips did grow in quite a bit, but my other assets never grew to their “full potential.” At first, this wasn’t okay. I did squats and leg lifts. I finally got a boyfriend to massage my little pears to his heart’s content. But to no avail.
As I got older, I learned to accept the following facts of life:
1) You can do a million breast pump exercises, but all you’ll accomplish is the ability to alternate pumping your breast muscles, like a body builder.
2) Latinas come in all shapes and sizes. Despite the stereotype, there isn’t one look that can represent us.
3) We each have something special that makes us beautiful, whether it’s our legs or our smile.
4) It may take some time, but you can learn to love and respect the body you were born to have.