Category:

Latina

Growing up a bicultural first-generation Mexican American Latina, my viewpoint may be a little different than others. I think my unique perspective and exposure to the Latino culture and Southern American culture growing up let me look at the world with an open heart and open mind.

I grew up in a very culturally rich city, Chicago where it was normal to see people of all different races, religions and countries of origin. It was nothing exceptional to hear many different languages spoken at any given time. Even in my own home, Spanish and English were both spoken.  I thought this was completely normal and I wish it was.

When we traveled abroad, our parents demanded that we treated the people and country of others with reverence and respect. We were taught to immerse ourselves in the culture. When in Rome, live as the Romans was sort of my dad’s travel mantra. I’m so grateful he did this for us. I want to do the same for my girls.

I want them to embrace their Latina and their American cultures and I want them to respect the people and cultures of other people. We do this through exposure, travel and teaching patience and tolerance and immersion.

I think our cultures, our religions, our circumstances and experiences give us all our own very unique perspective of life and here I share mine.

HIV, AIDS, CDC, #ONECONVERSATION, Sin Verguenza

Disclosure: This post is made possible by support from the We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time campaign. All opinions are my own.

Do you talk to your kids about Aids and HIV? I mean my parents never talked to us. That’s not how it worked in Latino families back then. The rule was don’t have sex until you were married so why would your parents tell you about sexually transmitted diseases when YOU weren’t supposed to be having sex anyways. That would be like giving expressed consent and every Latina girls, there is no consent to have sex until you are married or dead. Only just because you don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

In our culture, people get married earlier and, at least in my neighborhood, Latino kids were having sex before most of the Caucasian kids. Not me, because I took my dad’s threats of killing me if I did very seriously. I’m pretty sure that he would have so I did what any good Catholic, Latino kid would do, I waited until I went to college. But there I went, off to college with no information because my parents refused to discuss what they refused to believe could be going on.

Well, at least that was how it was for the girls in our family. The boys, well that was another story, I remember condoms being slipped to my brothers. You know to prevent pregnancy.

HIV and AIDS were never discussed in the house.

Back when I was a teenager, AIDS and HIV were all over the news. I knew what it was. We all did. But we never discussed it like it pertained to us. I mean with us being virgins and everyone believing that it was exclusive to homosexuals and drug addicts. We were just good Catholic kids who were trying to stifle our hormones until we could get the hell outta dodge.

Seriously, my parents never even explained sex to us. I was told, “It’s going to hurt really bad,” by my mother and “Don’t do it!” by my dad. By the first time I actually had sex, I can’t imagine the face I made in my disappointment that it was less than unbearably painful, as my mom had led me to believe. In fact, compared to the horror show I was expecting, it was nothing. Poor guy, my expectation of awful was pretty high.

This is not how we do it in my house. I am very open and upfront with everything with my girls. I answer as they ask. They are 8 and 10-years-old and they know more about their body, where babies come from, how their body works and the consequences of sex like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases then I did when I went to college.

They’ve been asking questions since they were preschoolers and I’ve always given honest, age-appropriate answers. I’m building trust and, hopefully, laying the basis for an open dialogue about everything as they get older. I’m not their friend. I’m their mom. It’s my job to keep them safe and educated, not tell them what they want to hear or sugarcoat life. Sure, it was very awkward explaining periods, Caitlyn Jenner and how babies grow in mom’s uterus but it’s what I signed up for as a parent. It’s my job to talk about the hard things so that they can make informed decisions because I won’t always be there to stop them from making mistakes.

We need to do something about the things we can change that affect our lives and the lives of our children like educating them about AIDS and HIV.

Here are a few facts about HIV that we need to know and discuss, as awkward as it might be for us, with our children.

HIV, AIDS, CDC, #ONECONVERSATION, Sin Verguenza

  1. Hispanics represent approximately 17 percent of the U.S. population, but account for an estimated 20 percent of people living with HIV (242,000 persons) and an estimated 21 percent of new infections (9,800) in the United States each year.
  2. Approximately one in 50 Hispanics will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime.
  3. Men account for 87 percent of new infections among Hispanics.
  4. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic men is almost three times that among white men, with gay and bisexual men particularly affected.
  5. In a study of 20 major U.S. cities in 2011, approximately 15 percent of Hispanic MSM were infected. Among those who were HIV-infected, more than one-third (37 percent) were unaware that they were infected.
  6. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic women is more than four times that of white women.
  7. AIDS continues to claim the lives of too many Latino men and women. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 100,000 Hispanics with AIDS have died.

We can’t let something like stigmas kill us. The stigma associated with HIV and homosexuality may help to spread HIV in Latino communities. In some communities, the cultural value of machismo may create reluctance to acknowledge sensitive, yet risky behaviors, such as male-to-male sexual contact or substance abuse. Fear of disclosing risk behavior or sexual orientation may prevent Latinos from seeking testing, treatment and prevention services, and support from friends and family. As a result, too many Latinos lack critical information about how to prevent infection.

There are a million uncomfortable reasons and excuses to not discuss AIDS and HIV but there is one very important reason to have just this one more conversation about HIV and AIDS and that is your life and the lives of your children. Don’t you want to protect them? Silence is deadly, people.

If you want to learn more about how to start the conversation or just get some useful facts and information, please check out the CDC’s #OneConversation campaign information available in English or Spanish.

Join the conversation on your favorite social media platform:

One Conversation at a Time is collaborating with AltaMed Healthcare Services to help promote Sin Vergüenza an exciting, entertaining, and suspenseful telenovela web series. Produced by Los Angeles-based AltaMed Healthcare Services, Sin Vergüenza takes viewers into the lives of a dynamic Mexican-American family coping with issues around HIV and sexual health. Each family member represents a different age group, sexual orientation, and marital status and faces unique challenges. Each person is also at risk of getting HIV.

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Sin Vergüenza addresses difficult issues that many Hispanic/Latino families face including stigma, infidelity, shame, sexuality and aging, condom use, dating and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) relationships and sexuality. Yet, it also portrays the unconditional love and support of family – even in the face of unexpected challenges.

Best of all, it’s a way to encourage Hispanic/Latino families and friends to have meaningful conversations about HIV. Watch the first episode of Sin Vergüenza  here.

After you watch it, talk about it with your friends and family and encourage them to watch it.

I’ve watched 2 episodes and I’m hooked. Now, I have to finish watching to see how it all plays out.

How will you start the conversation about HIV with your child?

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superstar, Coca Cola, for the dream, Latinos, Hispanic Scholarship fund, how to pay for college, Latino teens, education, college

This is part of a sponsored campaign with DiMe Media and Coca-Cola but all opinions expressed about how to pay for college are my own.

I grew up working class to parents who only graduated high school. My father was a blue-collar worker in a factory and my mom stayed at home and took care of the six of us children. My grandparents were the same, only my grandfather farmed. Bottom line was that I come from a long line of people who work really hard because it was the only choice they had. My parents wanted better for their children.

I was taught from a very early age that education was the ticket to a new life. If I got a good education and worked really hard, I could have anything I wanted. I could be anyone I wanted. Live anywhere I wanted. I could do anything I wanted, if I were willing to pay the price in determination, dedication and hard work. I was never told there was another option so from the time I could remember; I worked to do my best in school. It wasn’t just about me. I was the hope for better from my parents and I was the example for my younger siblings.

This lesson was drilled into my head. I’d get A’s my dad would ask, “Why are these not A+ s?” I never felt that I could do enough but going to college was the end goal because it was the means to better. Failure was not an option. The only option I was given was to work hard and to do it. I lived my life on a mission to excel. This is what my parents wanted and it was my duty to succeed for all of us.

Now, mind you, there was never any plan in action to help me pay for this journey. They expected me to go to college but they had no intention or idea of how to pay for it. It was all up to me. I won’t lie, it was hard. I felt like I had worked hard to get the grades, I should have gotten some help when it came time to pay for university but sometimes what we expect and what we get are not the same so I had to figure it out, on my own.

I did figure it out. I applied for financial aid, I took out loans and I even did work study in my dorm’s cafeteria freshman year even thought he smell of food repulsed me. It was what I needed to do to cobble together the funds for tuition. Over the years, I would take a semester off here or there to work at odd jobs and save the money. Finally, after 8 years, I graduated with a whole lot of debt. I want better for my girls.

My girls know that I expect them to go to college. They know how important an education is in this world. It is their part of the bargain to get the grades to be accepted. It is our job as parents to help them and guide them through the financial aid process, scholarship application process and if need be take out loans for them. My goal is for them to focus on school and for us to help them succeeded in college while accruing the least amount of debt. I don’t want them leaving college with a huge financial burden hanging over their heads. I am still paying on my graduate degree loans. There has to be a better way. We have to equip our children not only with the desire to succeed but the means to get there or we are just setting them up for failure, disappointment and heartache.

This year, Coca-Cola is partnering with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to help Hispanic families achieve their college dreams and aspirations, as part of the #ForTheDream Hispanic Education Program and the #ForTheDreamSweeps sweepstakes.

The purpose of Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program is to inspire and empower Latino teens and their families to prepare, plan and pay for their college education. Something I wish I had in my toolbox when I was preparing to go to university.

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Coca-Cola is donating $100,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. To help raise additional money toward the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Coca-Cola is donating $1 for every social media post with the hashtag #ForTheDream, up to $10,000.

Financial pressure is the number one reason that Latino youth do not attend college. As a community supporter and partner of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program is helping provide Hispanic families with the resources needed to go to college and achieve a higher education.

Coca-Cola understands the importance Latino families place on education, and wants to provide them with the opportunity to achieve their educational goals and become future leaders. The For The Dream program has a sweepstakes component, #ForTheDreamSweeps, in which Coca-Cola is awarding one College Tour Experience and 34 x $500 grants to cover education expenses. For more details about how to get your teens ready for college you can visit the For the Dream microsite. To enter simply share a photo and Tweet or post about why education matters for our youth and community or how your family pushed you to pursue your education.

I will be giving away a Coca-Cola prize pack to one lucky reader.  Winner will be chosen on August 4th. The prize will include a fun Coca-Cola-themed Summer Prize pack that features a logo cooler bag, sunglasses, Mason jar tumbler and a visor.To enter simply leave a comment below telling me why you think an education is so important?

How will you teach your child how to pay for college?

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Suavitel. Fragrance pearls, laundry, home, latina
Disclosure: This is a compensated post written as a part of my Suavitel ambassadorship agreement but my love for Suavitel and the nostalgia it brings are all my own.

Don’t you love it when you walk into a house or a room and it smells like freshly laundered linens? Or jumping into bed at night in clean sheets? It’s the best feeling in the world and it is my favorite smell. This is why the smell of Suavitel always reminds me of home. It reminds me of my childhood and folding laundry with my mom or jumping into warm, clean laundry before school on cold winter mornings.

For this reason, I love new fragrance pearls in-wash scent boosters. It not only smells amazing, it keeps that fresh smell lasting longer. You simply toss it into the washer before you throw your laundry in; add your detergent and then your fabric softener. It’s simple and the results are amazing with 5X longer lasting freshness, your clothes, your entire home, will smell awesome for weeks.

Suavitel. Fragrance pearls, laundry, home, latina

New Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls™ in-wash scent boosters with micro-encapsulated technology helps families extend that feeling of comfort and those exquisite aromas synonymous with a fresh load of laundry. It’s safe for all fabrics and washer settings. They’re the perfect addition to my laundry routine.

As a household staple for many Latinos, as I know it was in my house growing up, the Suavitel® brand has become synonymous with a feeling of comfort reminds me of home, more specifically, my mom. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a house with my mom. I miss her often but when my home is filled with the fresh scent of Suavitel, like my mother’s house, it makes me feel closer to her. It brings us closer even when distance keeps us apart.

Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls™ in-wash scent boosters are now available at retailers nationwide in 21.5 oz., 14.7 oz. and 6oz. bottles. Available in two irresistible scents, the Fabulous Field Flowers® and Soothing Lavender® variants of Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls™ in-wash-scent boosters deliver longer lasting freshness to your family’s laundry. I love them because they make that feeling of being home, even when I’m away from home, last longer.

Remember, you can add just a little or a lot. It all depends on what you want out of your fragrance booster. I prefer a lot because I want the smell of fresh laundered linens to greet me every time I enter my house.

If not Suavitel, what smell reminds you of home?

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Today, marriage equality became legislation nation wide. Today we got one step closer to human equality.

According to the Oxford dictionary a Human Being: A man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech and upright stance.

That is all it takes to qualify us as human beings.

This is what differentiates us from the animals. It does not say that there are varying degrees of human beings. Man, woman and child homo sapiens are all equally human. Not one is better or more superior in mind or make up because of race, creed, color, religion or sexual preference. We are all, at our core, human beings. If everyone accepted that, the world would be a more peaceful and beautiful place to live.

I am a 42-year-old, heterosexual, Latina woman which in the eyes of some make me less than. I am nearing middle-age, I am first generation Mexican-American and I have a vagina. Old, brown and vagina to some. But not to me. To me, I am the strongest woman you will ever meet. I don’t stop and I don’t even believe in the word can’t. Nothing is impossible. Your underestimation of me, of anyone, is your problem not mine because I will prove you wrong every damn time. I’m the underdog and I have nowhere to go but up. Be prepared to fight because I won’t give up and I think that is how most minorities feel.

This morning, I wrote a piece at Latina.Mom.me about Donald Trump’s racist statements about the Mexican people and South American immigrants. He said Mexico is not sending it’s best and those Mexican immigrants that come to the United States are criminals, rapists and drug lords. That pisses me off. I am personally fucking offended.

Maybe he should read a book because, in case he missed it, this country was founded by immigrants. This country was built on the blood, sweat, tears and backs of immigrants. Immigrants from Mexico and South America are no more criminal than the immigrants who landed on Plymouth rock, in fact, maybe less so. My ancestors didn’t murder the Native Indians.

Most of my family were immigrants; none of them were rapists, drug lords or criminals. Most of the people fleeing from South America are coming to provide better lives for their children. They are good, hardworking people. They are victims of their circumstances. They are running from the drug lords. And Mr. Trump as you talk of building a wall on the Mexican American border to keep Latinos out, just remember most of the area you want to build a wall around, once belonged to Mexico. They didn’t land on the border, the fucking border landed on them.

Then I see the news about Dylann Roof, white racist guy who decides that it’s his personal right to go kill a bunch of innocent African Americans at church. He just walked in there like he was an exterminator and it was his God given right to murder human beings because he does not feel that their life is equal in value to his because they are black.

Let me remind all of you racist assholes who share this twisted mentality; Americans brought the Africans to the United States as slaves for free labor. The Africans were stolen from their homes, separated from their families, raped, beaten, humiliated and dehumanized before they were worked to death in the fields like animals. They were treated as disposable labor and property, not people. I’ve actually heard people in the south tell a black person to “go back to Africa!” Are you kidding me? They didn’t want to be here in the first place and now you tell them to go back? African Americans are Americans and bottom line, they are human beings. If you can’t treat them as such, maybe you should leave? The people of color are having a bad week. This has to change, soon.

But thankfully, today one injustice was undone. Today marriage was made legal across the country and no one can refuse anyone that right to be married. The world we live in changed for the better today. It’s not just about a wedding and a party with the person you love, it’s about the right to be seen as a spouse in the eyes of the law. It’s about being able to share insurance, be one another’s next of kin, be at the bedside of the one you love because you are legally seen as family. It’s about not having your entire life undone on top of losing your partner. It’s about being free to love and live as a family unit. It’s about parental rights and medical say so. It’s about humanizing the homosexual community.

In response, one middle-aged white man, Rick Scarborough, a christian fundamentalist and former southern Baptist pastor, threatened to set himself on fire if Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage. I ask you , does anyone have a match this asshole can borrow?

In other news, have the country is threatening to move to Canada to escape the marriage equality  hell in a  fate of the United States, apparently this morons know nothing of world politics because Canada has had legalized same sex marriage for a decade.

The bottom line is that all of us, the weak, poor, huddled masses… the browns, the blacks, the Jews, the trangendered, the homosexuals and those of us with vaginas we are just as human as the middle-aged white men who hate us with such fervor that they want to see us eradicated from their existence.

Today is a day of celebration. We have made one tiny step for human equality. Let’s keep fighting and remember that we all deserve the same, respect and rights because we are all equal in our humanity. Today, love wins! Today, the world became a better place for our children.

What are your thoughts on marriage equality?

 

 

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elote, elote recipe, esquites, Mexican food, corn casserole, elote casserole, elote casserole recipe

Have you ever tasted elote? I make lots of Mexican dishes and have lots of favorite Mexican food recipes, my enchilada recipe is to die for. Seriously, but I also have developed a new take on an old favorite, elote! You may know it as esquites. I am calling it elote casserole because it’s not quite esquites either.

Growing up, I remember getting elote, the amazing steamed corn from street vendors. It was always a treat that we kids looked forward to, maybe more so than paletas! Anyways, I don’t currently live any where that I can get access to elote and you what they say, necessity is the mother of invention. In this case, it was the mother of the invention of this recipe. The same way it inspired me to develop my mexican hot chocolate milkshake recipe. There was no way I could let me kids grow up without knowing what this amazing food tastes like.

What is elote? If you are not Mexican, you may be asking yourself this. Elote is basically corn on the cob, steamed or boiled in the husk. Then the husk is pulled back and the corn is dipped in mayonnaise, drizzled with limejuice, dusted with Parmesan cheese and then liberally covered in tajin. You can substitute limejuice for lemon pepper and tajin for chili powder, either way, it tastes like a taste explosion in your mouth.

The only problem is that it is a little messy to eat and, where I live, hard to find a street vendor who makes it so I created this recipe so that I can still have my elote without the mess.

Elote Casserole

Ingredients

1 can of corn
½ cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup of sour cream

¼ cup of Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons of Tajin
1 small lime

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Empty the can of corn into small casserole dish, spread evenly.
  3. In small bowl mix mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and juice from half of one lime. Blend well.
  4. Spread mayonnaise mixture over top of the corn.
  5. *If you’ve never had Tajin, I recommend that you taste it first. I love it on everything, oranges, apples and corn. You may not, so you may opt for less than the 2 full teaspoons or more.
  6. Sprinkle Tajin, to your desired liking, on top of the mayonnaise mixture.
  7. Place in oven and cook until top is starting to get golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with your favorite dish, mine is everything, especially my enchiladas but if you want to serve it at a cook out, it pairs awesomely with my recipe for Chorizo hamburgers with avocado cream sauce. What’s your favorite casserole recipe?

Have you ever had elote before?

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Suavitel, fragrance pearls, home,mom
Disclosure: This is a compensated post written as a part of my Suavitel ambassadorship agreement but my love for Suavitel and the nostalgia it brings are all genuine.

You know how certain sights, sounds and smells remind you of special times and places in our lives? We all have them. Suavitel is one of those smells for me. It reminds me of home, more specifically my mom.

My mom has used Suavitel fabric softener for as long as I can remember. The house that my mom lives in, where I grew up, still smells like Suavitel because the fragrance permeates the sheets, covers, towels and clothes. As soon as I walk in the door, I know I’m home because I’m greeted by the smell of Suavitel and a hug from my mom.

I know, I sound like a super weirdo but it’s sort of how when you open an old storage tub of your big kid’s newborn clothes and you just sniff in all of that sweet baby goodness. No? It’s just me? Of course, I even relate that new baby smell with Suavitel because its what I’ve always used.

Honestly, I tried other fabric softeners when I first went away to college because that’s what all the other kids were using but it was missing something. It smelled awesome but it just didn’t smell like home and I missed home. I really missed my family and I especially missed my mom so I started using Suavitel and never looked back. To this day, Suavitel is the only fabric softener that I use. I hope one day that my girls will crack open a bottle of Suavitel in their local Target and think of me fondly.

New Suavitel® Fragrance PearlsTM in lavender or field of flowers scents with micro-encapsulated technology provides 5X longer lasting fragrance vs. using detergent alone.

Toss a little or a lot into the washing machine at the beginning of the wash and let its long lasting scent system work its magic for clothes that smell fresh for weeks. It’s best if used with Suavitel fabric softener.

What smell reminds you of home and your mom?

My whole house smelling like Suavitel for weeks on end is like one long hug from my mom.

 

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Vi and Va, #ViAndVa, Latinas, Dolls
This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Vi and Va Dolls and Latina Bloggers Connect.

You all know how skeptical I get about ethnic dolls. It seems that most times, the manufacturer either over shoots the mark and we end up with something like the Mexico Barbie fiasco with a cartoon representation of an entire race or no real effort is made at all and we end up with the same Barbie only with brown hair. This is also not acceptable. There has to be a happy medium.

There is a new Latino culture inspired fashion doll line for little girls, Vi and Va (Viva!).

They are sold exclusively at Target so I am assuming since most of us spent at least $80 twice a week in that joint, we’ve all seen them. I was provided one of each doll for review purposes.

Viviana (Vi) and Valentina (Va) are teenaged sisters. The other two dolls in the series are Felicia and Roxxi who are not just friends, but family. All four of the girls are related. The purpose of the line is to help young Latina girls embrace their heritage while showcasing the diversity in the Latino culture and celebrating family bonds. This is what the press release tells us.

Here is what I think. My girls took the dolls out of the boxes and immediately loved them because of the diversity in how they looked. You see, my girls understand that not all Latinas look alike. We come in all shapes and sizes (like the rest of the population). For example, my sister is 5’2″ has jet black, very curly hair, green eyes and beautiful olive skin. I am 5’7″, have dark brown, wavy hair, light brown eyes with flecks of green, very fair skin with freckles. My daughters have blue eyes, one has straight and the other has wavy, blonde hair and both are very fair-skinned. We are all proud Latinas and I was happy to see a doll that looked sort of like all of us.

I know that some people were offended by the fact that the dolls came with a boom box, an art easel, a baking tin and a guitar. I get it. I was offended that the Mexico Barbie had papers but I can’t be offended by what the Vi and Va dolls have because, in my house, we do all of these things.

Both my girls and I have guitars. Both girls have an art easel and regularly can be found walking from room to room with a sketchpad in their arms. Both of my girls have been in ballet since they were 2-years-old and you’d better believe that while we don’t have a time machine so we can’t get our hands on a boom box, my girls can’t pass up an opportunity to dance if music is playing on Pandora. And if I’m really being honest, my 10-year-old loves to cook. This not something I forced on her. My husband is quite the chef and she enjoys cooking with him. I’m not offended by the accessories, at all.

The dolls come dressed in bright, vibrant colored clothing with bold patterns and prints. You know, just like most teens (Latino or otherwise) are wearing these days. In fact, when I asked my 7-year-old about the dolls this is what she had to say, “I like them because they look like me and Bella and they dress like us. I only wish that they switched the things they do because I am the artist and Bella likes to cook!” What can I say, I think if making all little Latina girls feel “Latina” was the point, they hit the mark, at least for my girls because when you don’t look stereotypically “Latina” sometimes its hard to feel included.

My girls have been playing with them non-stop since they opened them. I really think they feel special because there is a “Latina doll” with blonde hair (like them) but she’s Latina. That might not make sense to you if you are not Latina, but if you are you know exactly what I’m taking about.

They only had two small complaints. First, they are annoyed that the 1 million Barbie outfits they own, won’t fit the Vi and Va girls. They are built different than Barbie; shorter and curvier. Secondly, the doll’s feet are weird. What can I say, I am not a fan of feet on anyone but there should be a warning for small children, “Do not be alarmed, the tiny toes are there, you just can barely see them.” Other than that, my girls really like the dolls.

Look, these dolls are not supposed to take the place of human role models. It’s just a very small step to making our littlest Latinas feel like they belong, are represented and help them to be proud of their culture. I think Vi and Va does that wonderfully.

As for role models, well, that’s my job so I’m not too worried that just because a doll happens to have a baking pan, my daughter might begin to believe that she is supposed to be barefoot and in the kitchen. I want my daughters to know that they can be and do anything they want, no matter what they look like, where they are from or what others think of them. I want my girls to know that if they are willing to work for it, there is nothing they can’t do.

If you like the Vi and Va line and would like to find out more about what’s going on with these diverse, modern Latinas you can find them on the website, Facebook and Twitter.

I’m giving one lucky reader a Vi and Va Birthday Celebration Doll Pack.

What? A Quincinera and a Sweet 16 party in the same year? If you think your little girl would enjoy this set, please enter to win via rafflecopter below.

This is sponsored post in collaboration with Vi and Va Dolls and Latina Bloggers Connect. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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sana sana, latino, nature, nurture, women, southern, pans in oven

I’m doing my own social experiment on nature versus nurture and I want you all to be apart of it. I shared a simple photo on Facebook yesterday of an oven full of pots and pans. I find this completely normal. In fact, my own oven is full of pots and pans right now! What struck me is that the caption said, “When you’re about to turn on the oven but then you remember that you’re Hispanic.”

latino, nature, nurture, women, southern, pans in oven

 

I shared it because for a minute I was shocked and thought, “ Wait, everybody doesn’t do this?” Well, doesn’t everybody? The answer is no, everybody doesn’t…but most people do and not just Latinos. But enough people don’t do it that 45 people weighed in on this status update. Who knew storing your pots and pans in your oven was so controversial?

Nature versus nurture, do we learn it or is it in our DNA?

nature versus nurture , latino, nature, nurture, women, southern, pans in oven

So it made me start to think, some of these things I do, are they nature or nurture? Is it a “Latina” thing? A “daughter of a southern woman” thing? A “ Chicago” thing? A “human” thing? A “Woman” thing? Did I learn these or was I born like this? So I decided to put it to a poll, this is where you all come in. I need to hear your answers to help me figure this all out and understand the mystery that is this “Debi” thing.

 

  1. Grilled cheese….do you put sugar on it? (Yes)
  2. Milk…do you put ice in it? (Yes)
  3. “Know what I mean?” …Doesn’t everyone ask this after they say something?
  4. Pots and Pans…do you store them in your oven? (Where else?)
  5. Eggs….do you put ketchup on them? (I put ketchup on them if they are scrambled, jelly if they are over easy)
  6. Hard shell or soft shell tacos? (I’ve never eaten a hard shell taco in my life. In Mexico the only hard shells I ever saw were Tostadas.)
  7. Pizza…thin or deep dish? (As a rule, deep dish but a like a good Sicilian.)
  8. Hot dogs…ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise? (Ketchup and mustard only.)
  9. Pop or soda? (Pop)
  10. Make-up…is it a daily requirement? (Only if you’re going some place where you care what the people think, so on most days…no!)
  11. Spanking kids….do you do it to your own kids? Would you allow others to do it to them? (No and Hell, no!)
  12. Can you say the word “Sampler” or does it completely disappear into your nasal cavity? (Asking for a friend)
  13. Vicks Vapo rub and Vaseline…do you use it? For what and how often? ( Yes, for everything and all the time.)
  14. How do you say this word? Cabinet. (I say kab-uh-nit. My family makes fun of me. They say kab-nit. They say it wrong! I have proof.)
  15. When your kid gets hurt, do you do Sana, Sana , kiss their booboos or say rub some dirt on it? (I sana, sana colita de rana and then I kiss it and make it all better because…you know, mom spit cures everything but stupid.)

Ok, I am dying to hear your answers because these are things that I thought were completely normal but have gotten some weird looks and comments on when I’ve said or done them before so I want to know, what do you do? Answer any of the questions above and weigh in in the comments. I really want to figure this out.

Nature versus nurture, which is it?

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WeAllGrow Summit the Must Attend Blog Conference for Latinas

Recently, I went to the WeAllGrow Summit held at the Line Hotel in Los Angeles put together by Ana Flores and the WAGLN crew. This was my first exclusively Latina conference and it was amazing. Actually, it was life changing.

the Line Hotel, Los Angeles, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference

WeALLGrow Summit exceeded all of my expectations.

Seriously. At this point in my blogging career, I have been to several conferences and I know that some are strictly for learning (though at this point, I’m finding that most conferences are teaching for beginners), others are for networking and some, well, some you are just paying a couple thousand dollars to hang out with your friends but not #WeAllGrow Summit. Ana Flores took this conference to the next level because there were no wasted days and each session I attended, I learned something new, even if it was just one thing.

When I arrived, I was a little nervous. Like I said, I’d never been to a conference exclusively for Latinos. The reason I was nervous? Well, while I know lots of bloggers (and they know me) I feel on the fringes as far as the Latina blogging community is concerned. It’s a really tight knit community and I knew very few Latina bloggers.

YouTube, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference, the Line Hotel, Los Angeles

I could count on one hand how many of the bloggers attending WeAllGrow Summit that I’d actually ever met in person and on two hands, those who I have known online. I believe there were around 300 in attendance. I loved the intimate size of it compared to larger conferences. I think I actually said hi, at least once, to most everyone.

WeAllGrow Summit was all about the sisterhood.

From the moment I arrived at LAX, I was welcomed with open arms, starting with my airport share ride buddy, Yoly Mason, who was sweet and kind (and did I mention that she is a SEO mastermind? I didn’t find that part out until she was speaking at the SEO session). She put me at ease without even knowing it.

When we arrived at the YouTube Pretreat, Yoly introduced me to MaríaJosé Ovalle whom I hit it off with immediately. You know those people you meet and you feel like you’ve been friends with forever? That’s Maria Jose. She is lovely, funny and down to earth plus she knows a whole lot about fashion and beauty!

Maria Jose Ovalle, YouTube, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference, the Line Hotel, Los Angeles

I’ve been wanting to step up my vlogging game and have no idea where to begin, so this pretreat was perfect and useful. As bloggers arrived, I met ladies that I had been talking to in the FB group for the past few months like Rocio Mora. One-by-one, we said hello. There were no awkward tensions where you found yourself face-to-face with someone you’d been talking online with only to have them look right through you in person.

WeAllGrow was a definite growing experience for me and I am so thankful for the women I met there.

I also met many bloggers that I had never known before like Liz Beth and each and every one said hello, had conversation and no one ever made me feel like they were looking for someone bigger. (You know what I’m talking about…the Tier 1 blog scan so many of us have seen in the eyes of fellow bloggers at conferences mid-conversation). Hell, Astrid Rivera even let me store my luggage in her car and she didn’t even know me. Everyone was so nice. I spent the day learning loads of helpful tips and meeting lots of interesting women. You can read all about how to make your YouTube channel rock over here.

YouTube, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference, the Line Hotel, Los Angeles, Claudia Krusch

I roomed with Claudia Krusch, who has been to several Latino conferences and it was nice to have such a positive person guiding me through my first experience. She knew everyone and if I hadn’t already met them, she introduced me. That was just day one!

And I made brand new friends like Cynthia Velasco and Claudia Rebecca Garcia Herrero better known as Becky Boriqua. Really once you cry with someone, you are friends for life.

The bottom line is that everyone I met, even for the first time, was kind and welcoming. The true spirit of the conference, the people and the culture, was palpable. We all know that if one of us grows ( succeeds) we all succeed and there is room enough for all of us. There is no need to knock or keep someone else down to feel better about ourselves or grow our blogs. I wish every conference could be this way but as we all know, that is not the way it is.

The community is what sets WeALLGrow apart from the rest and why I will be making this an annual conference to attend.

latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference

I want to tell you more and share all the great tips I learned to improve your blog but I’m going to have to make this a series because I’m already at 733 words! To be continued…

If you are a Latina and you want to grow your blog and your community, WeAllGrow Summit should be at the top of your blogging bucket list.

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slut shaming, sexting, misogyny, shaved, Mean girls, raising girls, hair, shaving, waxing, self-esteem

Last fall, I received a personal laser hair removal system because I’d already shaved myself silly for the past 30 years and waxing hurts my feelings. My 7-year-old saw it and asked what it was. I told her. Then, she mentioned the hair on her arms. She said if the laser hair removal worked, she wanted me to use it on her. I took notice but didn’t want to make a “thing” of it. It felt like a little punch to my gut that this was a concern of my 2nd grader. It broke my heart a little.

I’ve always believed that when my daughters came to me about hairy legs, out of control eyebrows or the inevitable extra lip hair (because God knows I am living proof of maintenance) that I would help them. It wouldn’t be an issue, until they came to me if it bothered them. As long as they love the skin they are in, that’s all that matters to me.

I remember being in middle school myself and having hairy legs and my dad forbidding me to shave my legs. I had to wear ugly tube socks to hide the Sasquatch I was evolving into. It was humiliating. Eventually, embarrassment and humiliation got the best of me, I butchered shaved my legs and nearly took my ankle off with it. I never wanted my girls to have to sneak and shave their legs, tweeze their eyebrows or, heaven forbid, wax their mustache. Mostly, I never wanted them to feel that awkward humiliation or be stumped when someone else pointed out what they already knew.

So, when my 7-year-old came to me for a second time last night and asked me if I could laser her tiny little arms, I looked her straight in the face and asked her, “Why do you want me to take the hair off of your arms?” And she answered, “Because it bothers me, Mommy.” I made the decision to stick by my guns and I agreed to shave her arms.

You see when she originally asked about it, I consulted my aesthetician and she recommended shaving her arms. When my daughter came to me, very seriously, after several months and still wanted the hair gone. I had to do what was best for her.

I took her to my bathroom. I explained that hair is natural and we all have it. Some of us have more than others but that if this were what SHE wanted, I would shave her arms. She was sure.

I washed her arms. Lathered them with shaving cream and almost surreally,

I shaved her tiny arms from her elbow to her wrist.

When we were done, she hugged me and said, “Oh, Mommy! They are so smooth. Now, I don’t have to wear my fleece every day in class to cover my arms!”

She was ecstatic. She ran downstairs to show her dad and her sister. And then I died a little bit inside, as I held back the tears because I realized that she hadn’t given me the entire story.

I followed her downstairs, pulled her aside and asked, “Baby, why do you wear your fleece every day in class?”

Then she said something I never wanted to hear, “ Well, *Sophie asked my why my arms were so hairy. Then she told me they were weird. Then she laughed.”

I can tell you that as a mom, I wanted to punch this other 7-year-old in the face because she has put it in my daughter’s head that her arms are weird because they have hair on them. That will never go away. She’s never going to forget that moment that someone laughed and called her “weird” because of her body. That infuriates me.

I know some of you reading this are thinking why on the earth would you shave your 7-year-old’s arms? I realize that it sounds vain and cosmetic and no I don’t want to encourage my girls to believe that they need to change to meet society’s expectations of beauty. This wasn’t about that. This was me helping my daughter feel better about herself because it bothered her just like I would take her to a dermatologist if she had acne or get her braces if her teeth were crooked.

I shaved my daughter because that’s what she needed to feel happy in her skin.

I’m thrilled my daughter feels more confident without the hair on her arms but I’m hoping, since I didn’t have the entire story, that I didn’t send the wrong message. I don’t want her to think she has to conform to other people’s concept of beauty because I think she’s perfect already.

What would you have done in this situation?

Would you have shaved your 7-year-old if you could see it truly bothered her?

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