Teen Latinitas Magazine

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DECEMBER 2008  www.latinitasmagazine.com

o r u t u F u t College y

Host your own

Latino Film Party Makeup for Different

Latina Looks

• How Her QUINCE   Transformed Her Reportera Spotlight: Anna Ruiz


How well Do you know your Raza?

Inside Latinitas A Conversation with the Editors:

Photo by Rebecca Davis

Laura Donnelly and Alicia Rascon

Latinitas is a non-profit organization focused on informing, entertaining, and inspiring young Latinas to grow into healthy, confident and successful Latinas. Our mission is to empower Latina youth through media and technology. Latinitas Magazines are the first digital magazines made for and by Latina youth. Visit us at www. latinitasmagazine.com

Founding Editors Laura: When I was 13, I opened up Teen magazine and wondered where all the chicas were with braces and curly (translation: frizzy) brown hair. Ones that talked too much and had a mixed up family of Irish, Cuban, Peruvian and Italian cousins! The girls in Teen were going to the prom as freshmen. Wow, I was still wondering what it was like to kiss someone.

Alicia: You think you had it rough? I was wondering where were the girls that looked like my

primas, amigas, neighbors and me? I didn’t see girls who reflected the complexions or echoed the accents I grew up with everyday in my hometown. I felt ignored, like my cultura was invisible.

Laura: Latinitas has been a real labor of love for us, no? We have had the privilege of working

together as a team beginning in that class where the magazine began five years ago at the University of Texas at Austin to now running clubs with girls who write, photograph and design most of this revista.

Alicia: We’ve seen

positive portrayls in media: “Ugly Betty,” “The George Lopez Show,” and “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.” Young Latinas are getting parts in films and slowly getting parts that reflect their identity. We thank “tia” magazines like Latina for paving the way. Finally, Latina teens have a magazine to call their own. I love hearing all the fascinating stories from our readers. My favorite part of this job is creating a place to showcase the much-needed voice of young Hispanic girls.

Laura: I think the unfortunate part of a conversation with just the editors is that our readers can’t see all the alma y corazón that goes into this publication— the leadership of our board of directors who help us with every detail of publishing and programming; our editors who slave over articles so that they are interesting; the volunteer writers through the years who wrote articles about Brazil, Daddy Yankee and being a Mexican Jew; and the Web and graphic designers and photographers who made these pieces shine.

Alicia: Don’t forget our translators who donate their time, so our magazine can be in English

and Spanish—America’s most spoken languages. Oh, yes. And most importantly, the girls who meet to contribute to the magazine at local schools in Texas or submit their writing, poetry and artwork through the mail or the Web. They are the vida of Teen Latinitas. They tell us what we really need to know— their dreams, goals, fears and challenges.

Laura: It’s been a great road from digital to print. A bumpy one sometimes. Why did we do it?

There is still such a low percentage of positive and real images of Latinas in magazines. The Hispanic female teen is still made to look overly sexual or violent like a chola-gangster.

Alicia: When our readers

open Teen Latinitas, I want them to see themselves and imagine what they could be. I want our readers to see they are American beauties and the next force of journalists, lawyers, doctors, singers, leaders—everything.

Laura: I think we did it. This premiere issue touches upon important topics like the DREAM Act

and the importance of equal access to secondary education in the United States; the essence of Latina beauty; and issues that real Hispanic girls are affected by daily.

Alicia: Felicidades to us and to the new community of Teen Latinitas readers. Gracias to all the Latinitas who have helped us make it this far. This is just the beginning!

2  Latinitas

Laura Donnelly Alicia Rascón

Publisher/Editorial Director Sandie Taylor

Assistant Editors Maribel Garza del Castillo Lonny Alfred

Art Director Verónica Jiménez Vega

Photo Editor Celeste Casas

Writers Jeanette Bellemeur Erica Benedicto Christine Bolanos Barbara Douglass Molly Hammond Erika Jaramillo Melissa Martinez Carmen Bazan Rodriguez

Teen Advisory Board Telvi Altamirano Mayra Chavez Geneva Diaz Hiley Escobar Samantha Escobar Krystella Rangel Anna-Alizette Ruiz

Want to contribute to or volunteer with the magazine? Contact latinitasmag@yahoo.com Send letters to the editor to latinitasmag@yahoo.com For advertising information, contact sandie.taylor@latinitasmagazine.org

Fun - Music

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A History of Latina Artists in Reggaetón 1990- Lisa M, known as one of

the original female rappers to pave the way for the foundation of reggaetón, releases her second album, “No Lo Derrumbes.”

1997- Ivy Queen releases her

debut album, “En Mi Imperio,” and is dubbed “The Queen of Reggaetón.”

2000- DJ Coyote launches The

Mix 107.7, Puerto Rico’s first 24hour reggaetón station.

2003- Lorna releases her

single, “Papi Chulo (Te Traigo el Mmmm),” which peaks at #1 in France for 20 consecutive weeks.

2004- Reggaetón hits U.S.

mainstream radio and gains widespread popularity. The same year, Adassa releases “On the Floor.”

2005- Glory coins the phrase

“Dame más gasolina” with Daddy Yankee. She also releases her debut album, “Glou,” which peaks at # 22 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums. One track on her album, titled “La Popola,” is banned in many Latin American countries due to its vulgar lyrics.

2006- Anaís, winner of the

second season of Objetivo Fama (Puerto Rico’s version of American Idol), records “Arriba Arriba” for the 2006 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament and releases her debut album, “Así Soy Yo.” The same year, La Bruja releases her debut album, “Brujalicious.”

2007- Ivy Queen’s “Sentimiento” platinum edition enters at #4 on Billboard’s Top Latin Album chart, making it her highest debuting album.

Adassa, one of Reggaetón’s leading female artists, talks to

Latinitas about her career, the male-dominated music industry and the need for female unity.


Story by Erika Jaramillo Photo courtesy of Adassa

all her the Princess of Reggaetón, and she’ll send you straight to the gallows. Though down-to-earth and unassuming, Adassa, the 28-year-old bilingual songstress, radiates natural star power. Despite humble beginnings distributing her CDs out of the trunk of her car in her native city of Miami. Adassa’s beginnings evolved into a career résumé that would make even a queen green with envy. Adassa’s not just modest—she is also incredibly hard-working. Logging a staggering number of hours performing, her tour list reads like the “who’s who” in pop Latino today, playing with Pitbull to Daddy Yankee; Don Omar to Baby Bash. Adassa has also performed with Bachata mega group Aventura and with rumored-to-be rival Ivy Queen, just to name a few. “I think it’s funny,” Adassa says about the rumored feud with Ivy Queen. “This has been something that has been going around for awhile. I have absolutely no beef with her. There is always going to be comparisons like Paulina Rubio and Thalia; it happens to the best of us.” Adassa’s music—a mixture of reggaetón, dancehall and R&B—gels perfectly with her Colombian-American heritage and classically trained voice. “Just like I grew up listening to Olga Tañon and Celia Cruz, I also grew up listening to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Mariah Carey,” she says. “I also studied opera, so influences in my music are a little combination of everything.” Discovered at 15, Adassa landed her first record deal at the same year. She joined the all-girl group Xtasy, but went solo shortly after. In 2004, she signed with Universal Latino and became the label’s first artist to release a number one hit song in Japan for six consecutive weeks. “To think, my parents wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer,” she laughs. When she is not retreating from her hectic schedule in her Arizona home, she can be seen on stages scattered throughout the globe. With the release of her 2007 self-titled, junior album “Adassa,” she has preformed in the United States as well as Japan, Greece and all over Europe. Adassa kick-started 2008 in Korea. “I’ve built so many different relationships with so many different people around the world,” she says. “It’s exciting to do it all over again.” She admits her success as a female reggaetón artist in a male-dominated industry isn’t always easy, but says female fans have the power to change that. She points out that about 70 percent of the audience at Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake concerts are women. If the same female fans got into reggaetón, Adassa says they could demand more female artists. “When it comes to this industry, there are so many male artists, especially in reggaetón. I love touring with them—don’t get me wrong, but I think we need more women to show support to other women doing their thing.” With three albums—“Adassa,” “Kamasutra” and “On the Floor”— already released, Adassa says her “thing” is just getting started.

En Español

A pesar de ser una de las cantantes más famosas de Reggaetón, Adassa es modesta y trabajadora. La música de Adassa es una mezcla de reggaetón, dance hall y R&B. Esta combinación de ritmos y su voz entrenada clásicamente complementan su descendencia Colombiana y Americana. Obtuvo su primer contrato para hacer un disco a la temprana edad de 15 años. En el 2004, firmó un contrato con “Universal Latino” convirtiéndose en la primera artista en la disquera al sacar una canción numero uno en Japón por seis semanas consecutivas. Ella piensa que los rumores acerca de su rivalidad con Ivy Queen son cómicos y que siempre habra comparaciones. Adassa dice que debería de haber una demanda más alta por mujeres cantantes ya que el reggaeton es una industria dominada por los cantantes masculinos. Ella cree que mantenernos unidas como mujeres es clave.

Latinitas  3

411 - Beauty

A Splash of Color

Makeup for Different Latina Looks Story by Molly Hammond Photos by Celeste Casas

At Latinitas, we’re all about helping you feel beautiful and unique. You don’t need make-up or fashion to achieve this, but hey, sometimes those things are fun to play with, verdad? We asked La Matadora Cosmetics, one of the few cosmetic companies for Latinas, to help us put together four different Latina looks. La Matadora owner Dawn Mata and make-up artist Amanda Pye created looks for four Latinitas’ teen reporters to try out.

• Future Career: Art Historian Anna-Alizette Ruiz, 17, modeled the natural look, which can be worn daily, using minimal make-up. Anna is wearing La Matadora’s Loose Mineral Powder in Mineral Sand; Concealer in Fair and Neutral; Mineral Compact Blush in Natural Glow; Gel Eyeliner in Chocolate Mousse; Mineral Eye Shadow in Mountain; Curling Lash Mascara in Black; Liquid Lips in Oxygen; and Lip Perfect Water Resistant Automatic Liner in Cogniac. This look emphasizes the belleza natural of the skin and face and highlights significant features.

“It doesn’t feel like I’m wearing any makeup. It feels like I just came back from a spa.”

About La Matadora Cosmetics La Matadora’s (www.lamatadora.com) line of makeup works for the fairest and darkest skinned women. Owner Dawn Mata started the company in 2004 after not finding the right blend of cosmetics to match her Latina skin tone in American stores. “I decided I could either get angry about [the lack of products for Latinas] or I could do something about it,” said Mata. “I wanted to make a product that a lot of people could afford. I chose the name, ‘La Matadora,’ (‘the killer’ in English) because it’s very strong and bold.”

After working in the Spanish and American cosmetic industries, she created one of the first make-up companies targeted specifically toward Latina women-a demographic other mainstream makeup companies failed to incorporate into their brands. “One of the key differences with our line is that it was designed with Latinas in mind,” she said. “We custom blend our products. Fifty percent of the line caters to the typical Latina skin tone and type.”

Today, she mostly sells her products on the Web and in Spain.

• Future Career: Poet Telvi Altamirano, 18, normally goes make-up-free, but she decided to give a little color a chance. The Hip Hop look, seen on stars like Jennifer Lopez, can be created using La Matadora’s Mineral Compact Foundation in Perfecta; Mineral Loose Blush in Amber; Brow Wax; Mineral Eye Shadow in Golddigger, Earth and Violet; Eyeliner Gel in Blackout; Long and Lush Mascara in Black; Lip Gloss in Mocha; and Lip Perfect Water-Resistant Automatic Liner in Mauve. This look is subtle around the eyes.

“It’s light and airy. I think I could do this everyday. I would wear this at night or when I have a poetry performance.”

4  Latinitas

411 - Beauty • Future Career: Social Worker Stock up on eyeliner for this estilo! For Krystella Rangel, 18, the Rock ‘n’ Roll look was a perfect match with her rockin’ personality. To get this look, concentrate on the eyes, which will deemphasize other facial features. Blend Mineral Eye Shadow in Black, Eyeliner Gel in Blackout throughout the eyelids to create a shadowing effect that enhances the visibility and contours of the eyes. Amanda used Mineral Compact Foundation in Bonita, Mineral Blush in Peach, and Lip Gloss in Quiet to highlight Krystella’s facial features while not distracting from the drama created by the eye shadow.

“It feels real and comfortable even though it is a dramatic look. I would wear it everyday if I could.”

• Future Career: Journalist This look accentuates the lips and features a muted eye color. Geneva Diaz, 17, tested out fake eye lashes, Mineral Loose Foundation in Mineral Medium; Mineral Blush in Dusty Rose and Peach, Mineral Eye Shadow in Gold Frost; Matte Shadow in Bliss, Lip Perfect Lip Liner in Rose, and Lip Gloss in Lily. Geneva’s look was created for a noche-onthe-town or perhaps a date with a new novio.

“The look they gave me was quite flamboyant and flashy. I would wear the look in the evening, which by the way I did. I went to a concert and looked stunning.”

En Español En latinitas, nuestro objetivo principal es ayudarte a sentirte bella y ύnica. Es por esto que le pedimos a “La Matadora” una compañía de cosméticos que nos ayudara a organizar maneras divertidas de jugar con cosméticos y obtener estilos para Latinas.

Mujer Natural Anna Ruiz, de 16 años, modelo el estilo natural, el cual puede ser usado a diario aplicando maquillaje mineral. Este estilo enfatiza la belleza natural de la piel y la cara al igual que enaltece facciones especificas.

Hip-Hop Mami Telvi Altamirano, de 17 años, normalmente no usa maquillaje pero decidió darle una oportunidad al color. Este estilo es sutil alrededor de los ojos.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Chica ¡Prepárate con delineador para este estilo! Para Krystell Rangel, de 18 años, este estilo complementa perfectamente su personalidad rockera. Este estilo se concentra en los ojos mientras le quita énfasis a otras características faciales.

Diosa de Noche Este estilo acentúa los labios y usa un color natural para los ojos. Geneva Díaz, de 16 años, experimenta con pestañas postizas. Perfecto para una noche de fiesta.

El usar maquillaje nunca te define como persona pero si puede agregar un poquito de diversión a tu vida.

YourView - Tips and Tricks

Host Your Own

Latino Film Party By Barbara Douglass | Photos by Celeste Casas


o you and your friends sit around the lunch table trying to figure out what you're going to do on the weekend? Bored with the usual menu of Hollywood fare or forced to watch the Disney Channel with your siblings? Break out of the mold and host your own Latino film party! What better way to broaden your horizon and connect with your culture—all without a plane ticket—than to explore Latino cinema. Make it a party, or get serious and get your friends to critique the films with serious commentary. You only need a few things to make your film party a success:

La Invitación

First, create an advertisement for the event. You could go the traditional route and use markers and construction paper to design an invitation, or you could be a tech-savvy chica and design one using computer applications like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator. Another option is to send an Evite (www.evite.com). On the invitation, don’t forget to include your phone number, directions and things your guests should bring. You can invite just a few close friends or make it a grand affair—either way you’re sure to have a great time!

La Comida

Instead of biting your nails during suspenseful scenes, provide crunchy snacks. Salsa and tortilla chips or a bowl of palomitas (popcorn) are always good choices. And don’t forget las bebidas! Natural fruit-flavored drinks like Jarritos are perfect.

El Ambiente

Preparing a comfy room with pillows and blankets is also a necessity. Tell your friends to bring their favorite pillow, so you’re well-stocked on cushions to hold during the tear-jerking moments. As for the decorations, stringing papel picado across the room is a great way to give your party a Latino vibe. Papel picado is the fun Mexican tradition of making designs out of tissue paper. You can make the decorations or buy them at a party store.

Las Películas

The most important item for your party is, of course, the movies! So, what are Latino films? Any film created by Latinos or representing Latino life.

Real Women Have Curves - A comedy about a first generation Latina in

East Los Angeles struggling to define her identity and plan her future amid family pressures to follow a more traditional female role. America Ferrera stars in the film as Ana, who works in her sister’s dress shop but has dreams of attending Columbia University. Ana is also dealing with accepting her curvy figure and her critical mother.

Selena- This film describes the life of one of the first female Tejano singers, Selena Quintanilla. Her career as a singer started at a young age in a family band but ended tragically with her murder in 1995 when she was only 23 years old. This is a touching story about an amazing woman whose life was cut short, but her spirit touched and continues to touch the lives of many.

Bella- Made by independent filmmaker Alejandro Gomez, this story

explores “Nuyerican” and Mexican culture through a day in the life of Jose, (the beautiful to watch Eduardo Verástegui), a chef living in New York City unable to overcome tragedy, and a plucky co-worker (Tammy Blanchard) who was recently fired and facing her own life-changing experience. You could sprinkle in a few classic American films about Latino characters, including 1950s singer Ritchie Valen’s biopic La Bamba and the irrepressible tale of barrio teens kicking butt on Advanced Placement tests in Stand and Deliver—house favorites! *Not all commercial retail stores have this title. You can find it through Netflix or possibly your local specialty store.

La Discusión

After the movie, a great way to end the party is to reflect on the films’ themes. Here are some questions to kick off your critiquing session: Which of the characters did you relate to the most? Why? What was the movie’s theme or the moral of the story? What was the most memorable scene? How did the movie make you feel? Was the movie realistic or an accurate portrayal of life events? How were Latinos portrayed in the movie? Were there any stereotypes present? If your first Latino film party is a hit, you might want to make it a weekly or monthly event. You could show just one or two movies, and ask a different person to host it at her house each time. There’s so much to learn about Latino culture and media through these films, and there’s enough of it, that you’ll never run out of phenomenal films made by Latinos.

Consider these titles: La Misma Luna- A beautiful story about the indestructible relationship

between a son and a mother separated by the Mexico-U.S. border. Rosario has gone to America to create a better life for her 9-year-old son Carlos, while he stays in Mexico with his grandmother. When the grandmother dies, Carlos embarks on a journey to America to reunite with his mother.

Buscando a Leti*- This is the often-untold immigration story about what

happens to a family when some members leave to work in the United States and others are left in Mexico. During the years living with her grandparents, the main character, Leti, suffers at the hands of her prejudiced grandmother who despises her indigenous looks and her grandfather who protects her.

6  Latinitas

En Español Una manera fantástica de organizar una fiesta para tus amigos es organizar una fiesta con tema películas Latinas. Es una buena manera de juntar a tus amigos más cercanos y practicar sus habilidades de criticar películas. Sólo necesitarás unas cuantas cosas para que tu fiesta sea un éxito: la invitación, la comida, el ambiente y las películas. Nosotros recomendamos: La Misma Luna, Quinceañera, Buscando a Leti, Real Women Have Curves y Selena. Dos de estas películas son clasificadas R. ¡No se olviden de compartir sus opiniones acerca de las películas cuando terminen de verlas!

YourView - Girl Talk d

Health 101Your Questions Answere Questions compiled by Teen Reporters Samantha Escobar and Geneva Diaz Answers by Erica Benedicto, PA-C


acne crisis


smelly hair

I have really bad acne and blackheads. What can I do My friend doesn’t wash her hair everyday. Is that to get them to go away, and how do I keep them off good or bad? -Kelsi Ryan, 16, Austin, Texas There are different types of hair—oily, my face? -Anonymous, 15 Acne usually begins when you are 10-13 years old and can last for 5-10 years. In pre-teens and teens, acne sometimes begins because your body is undergoing hormonal changes. Hormones are chemicals secreted in your body that keep it running and in balance. Acne and blackheads can also be linked to environment, genetics and stress. You really have no power over the hormones that are excreted in your body, but you can try to minimize your stress level; keep bacteria and dirt away from your face; and drink lots of water. Make sure you wash your face once a day and apply a light moisturizer containing sunscreen. You can try to treat your acne and blackheads by: • Avoiding aggravating factors • Try medicated cleansers first • Next, try Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid, both over the counter products • If there is no improvement after 6-8 weeks, see your doctor

2 perfect


I used to exercise a lot, but when I stopped I started to gain a little weight. I started exercising again, but I can’t seem to get the extra weight off. Do you have any exercising tips for girls like me? -Anonymous, 17 Good for you for exercising! Exercise and diet are key factors in keeping a healthy weight. When I say diet, I don’t mean stop eating. I mean eat properly. If you are exercising, perfect. Keep up the great work! Just make sure that your exercis regimen is consistent though and includes at least 20 minutes of cardio (running, fast-walk, swimming). The nutrition part is what people have been pushing for years—lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Try your best to keep away from high-fat foods—especially fast foods— like papas fritas, hamburgers, pan dulce and cupcakes. Remember, everything in moderation. Even if you have a little bit of weight on you, it’s okay as long as you continue to follow a daily exercise routine and continue eating healthy—these things take time, but you’re on track.

dry, semi-oily, semi-dry, coarse, fine, thick, thin, curly, straight. Every type of hair responds differently to washing. For example, my niece, who has very curly, dry hair, showers daily, but only washes her hair twice a week. As long as your friend doesn’t have lice or a funky smell coming from her head, it’s fine for her to not wash her hair every day.


messy room

Does a dirty room affect your health? -Anne Ramirez, 16, Austin, Texas

Absolutely! It can affect both your physical and mental health. A dirty room can become a perfect environment for dust and bacteria. If you don’t dust and vacuum regularly, dirt can build up and cause respiratory problems and make asthma a lot harder to manage. Asthma is a respiratory disorder that causes episodes of difficult breathing. A dirty room can affect your mental health by causing stress. Every time you walk into a dirty room, you think about how dirty it is and when you will get to clean it. I learned my lesson when I went away for college. I usually had a messy room and kept a lot of stuff under my bed. When I moved away, my mom said she cleaned under my bed and found a scorpion’s nest! Erica Benedicto, PA-C, holds a bachelor’s degree in English, master’s of public health and master’s of science in physician assistant.

¿Puede afectar tu salud una habitación sucia?

-Anne Ramírez, 16

¡Absolutamente! Puede afectar tu salud tanto física como mental. Una habitación sucia es un ambiente perfecto para la acumulación de polvo y bacteria. Si no sacudes y aspiras tu habitación regularmente, el polvo puede acumularse y causar problemas respiratorios al igual que causar que el asma sea difícil de controlar. El asma es un desorden respiratorio que causa episodios en los cuales es realmente difícil respirar. Una habitación sucia te puede afectar mentalmente causando estrés. Cada vez que entras a una habitación sucia siempre piensas acerca de lo sucia que está y acerca de cuando tendrás tiempo para limpiarla. Yo aprendí mi lección cuando me fui a la universidad. Usualmente mi habitación estaba desordenada y mantenía muchas cosas debajo de mi cama. Cuando me mude mi mamá me dijo que había limpiado debajo de mi cama y había encontrado un nido de escorpión.

Mami Dice: If you wear a bra with an underwire, it could give you breast cancer.

Myth: Studies do not prove that bras with an underwire cause cancer. Women in western cultures like the United States, and Mexico have been wearing bras since the 1920s and while they do have a higher incidence of breast cancer, it is believed to be related to other factors. These risk factors include diet, genetics and exercise.

If your breasts start hurting, something is wrong.

Myth: Not necessarily. Breast pain is often caused by hormonal changes.. A hormone like estrogen, is a chemical released in your body to regulate and keep it balanced. There are certain times during your menstrual cycle that your breasts can become very tender, this may last for the few days before your period and then some days after and is called cyclical pain. See your doctor if your breasts are constantly hurting, there is one spot in your breast that always hurts, or you have discharge from your nipples.

I share contacts with my friend, my mom says we shouldn’t even though we have the same vision.

Fact: Mami is right. The eyes are mucous membranes, just like our mouths and nose. Sharing contacts can transfer bacteria from your friend’s eyes into yours. In addition to sharing bacteria, you could also scratch your cornea. Since the cornea is somewhat like the skin on our bodies, having an object or surface that is abrasive—like an old, overused, contact—can cause a defect in the “skin” of the cornea. Also, if your friend’s contacts do not fit your eyes properly, it can cause a lack of oxygen to your eyes. Your vision is very important, so keep your eyes as healthy as possible!

Smoking stunts your growth.

Fact: While you are in the womb, the decreased blood supply to the baby can cause the baby to be born with low-birth weight. After birth, smoking hinders growth progress, a study just released in Canada showed that boys who smoke were 2.54 cm shorter than their peers who did not smoke. In addition, smoking can cause asthma, or make asthma worse, heart problems, and increase your chance of getting cervical, breast, and lung cancer. On the outside it can increase wrinkles on your face and cause stinky breath.

Latinitas  7

Real Life - True Stories

Culture Shock

How My QUINCE Changed My Life By Anna-Alizette Ruiz Photos by Celeste Casas


lthough I am the daughter of a Mexican mother and Mexican-American father, I live totally immersed in American society. I grew up with Latina color and curves, but I always found it difficult to look into the brown eyes of other Latinos and say, “I am proud of my race.” I spent much of my childhood crossing the border to visit my mother’s family in Nuevo Laredo, but I never truly embraced my Mexican culture. My mother, who died the day after I was born, is the reason I believe in my cultura. On April 8, 1991, I was born to Rosa Margarita Elizondo Esquivel, a 35-year-old woman teaching kindergarten in a wheelchair. As a child, she was diagnosed with polio, a disease that restricted movement of her legs. She never limited herself because of her disability. Her heart was pumped up with love, kindness and talent that made her personality stand out to anyone who met her. Even though she was told childbirth would be risky for her, she decided pursuing her dream of motherhood was worth the threat of death. When my mother died, my father was unable to take care of me because he was an alcoholic. Instead, his sister took me into her home. I suddenly had a wonderful family with two older brothers, but this family didn’t celebrate their Latino roots. During my childhood, I did not learn Spanish or enjoy Mexican food. I wanted a Sweet 16 instead of a quinceañera. To me, a quince meant

8  Latinitas

Real Life - True Stories having a party to celebrate Latino society, which was something I didn’t believe in. When I turned on the television, I heard about Hispanic crime increasing as well as high school dropout and teen pregnancy rates. I was ashamed of my culture even though I was a part of it. I wanted to be Irish, Italian or anything else at those moments. Despite not wanting a quinceañera, my birth mother’s family insisted on giving me one in Mexico two years ago. As I sat in church, not really listening to the Spanish-speaking priest, I thought of how my mother might be ashamed of me for thinking that my culture—her culture—was a bad thing. With those thoughts in mind, I entered the reception and heard the speaker announce me as her daughter. At that moment, a feeling hit me so strong that tears filled my carefully made-up eyes. I am her daughter being looked at by smiling faces. I realized then that the legacy of my mother lives within me. I didn’t want to be connected to my mother or my heritage because I was selfish and made false assumptions. I believed all Latinos in society were like the few Latinos who made negative media headlines. I was wrong. I forgot about Latina women like my mother who represent our culture by embracing family values and traditions. I am the proud daughter of a Mexican mother and MexicanAmerican father. My mother sacrificed for me. She let me grow for nine months and held me for one day. I am the spitting-image and legacy of her. Yo soy la hija de (I am the daughter of) Rosa Margarita Elizondo Esquivel. Anna-Alizette Ruiz, 17, is a teen reporter for Latinitas and a member of Grrl Action, a project of Rude Mechanicals. She writes a blog for her high school and is an aspiring art historian and fashion designer.


oy la hija de una madre Mexicana y un padre Mexicano-Americano pero vivo como una Americana, totalmente sumergida en esta sociedad. Yo crecí con el color y la figura de una mujer Latina toda mi vida, pero siempre se me hizo difícíl ver a los ojos cafés de otros latinos y decir, “Estoy orgullosa de mi raza.” La mayoría de mi niñez la pase cruzando la frontera para visitar a mis familiares pero aún así nunca adopte mi cultura Mexicana de Nuevo Laredo. A pesar de que no quería una fiesta de quinceañera mi familia materna insistió en agasajarme con una en México hace dos años. Al estar sentada en la iglesia, sin estar realmente atenta a lo que el sacerdote decía en español pensaba en mi madre, la cual murió al día siguiente de mi nacimiento. Pensé que ella podría estar avergonzada de mis sentimientos hacia mi cultura—su cultura. Con esas ideas en mi mente al entrar a la recepción escuche el alto parlante anunciando mi entradá como la hija de Rosa Margarita Elizondo Ezquivel. En ese momento me sentí tan conmovida que me fue difícil contener las lágrimas. Soy su hija, una hija que esta siendo mirada con caras sonrientes. El legado de mi madre vive dentro de mí. Fue entonces que me di cuenta que yo no estaba conectada a mi cultura o a mi madre por mi egoísmo y falsas suposiciones. Yo creía que todos los Latinos en la sociedad eran como, los pocos Latinos que salen negativamente representados en el periódico, y me había olvidado de las mujeres Latinas como mi madre quienes representan a su cultura aceptando la importancia de los valores familiares y la tradición. Mi madre es la razón por la que creo en mi cultura.

Latinitas  9

Real Life - Hot Topic to deserving and qualified community members, but to others it seems like amnesty, which restores innocence to those who are accused of an offense. Taking this topic to the streets and to the girls it most affects, we asked a few Latinitas what they thought of the DREAM Act. Here is what they had to say.

Q: What do you think about the Dream Act? It gives people a chance to become something, unlike their parents who didn’t get that chance. That’s the reason their parents came here in the first place—to give them that chance, and it’s not their fault their illegal. – Nicole Bolanos, 15, Round Rock, Texas It’s a good idea because it would give other kids a chance to graduate and do something good with their lives. - Amoriest Saavedra, 13, Austin, Texas

Q: Do you know anyone who would be affected by this act? How?

Dream Act

What Does It Mean to You?

Story by Christine Bolanos | Photos by Celeste Casas


t's done. Four years of hard work. You're at your high school graduation. The sound of thunderous applause of family and friends is overwhelming, as is the feeling of accomplishment. Then, BAM! You're suddenly yanked back into reality. As an illegal immigrant, or the child of one, who just graduated from a United States high school, your next likely step isn’t as simple as your citizen-born friend sitting beside you. You have worked just as hard, if not harder, than your peers. But, because you do not have a social security number, you will face many more obstacles aspiring to college– as important as obtaining financial aid or as simple as getting a job. In 2007, a bill was introduced into Congress that would later become known as The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or reflectively named, the DREAM Act. Essentially what the DREAM Act would do is provide children of illegal immigrants between the ages of 12 to 30, mechanisms to obtain legal residency, upon meeting certain conditions. First, they must have been raised in the United States, graduated from a U.S. high school, and demonstrated good moral character. If young immigrants meet these conditions, they qualify for conditional lawful permanent resident status. During this period, they would be required to attend college, join the military, or perform significant community service hours. At the end of the conditional period, provided they meet at least one of these requirements, they would be eligible for regular, lawful permanent resident status. This bill was eight votes short of becoming law. Eight votes that could have changed eight million lives. The law triggered a battle between those who oppose illegal immigration and those who support immigration solutions. On one side, the DREAM act offers opportunity

10  Latinitas

I have a friend whose parents are working so hard in this country to make a living. They would benefit from it a lot. - Brandy Garcia, 13, Round Rock, Texas My mom’s best friend is an illegal immigrant, and her daughter just graduated. She was in the top 10 percent of her class, took all AP classes, was in Student Council and volunteered. She got into her number one choice school; but now, she’s having to face the decision of whether to attend despite not receiving financial aid because of her illegal status. I don’t understand why she has to be punished for something that wasn’t her decision to make. - Maria Bocanegra, 14, Seattle, Washington A friend of the family's is being negatively affected by the DREAM Act not being passed. Still, I think that if you broke the law, you shouldn't have the same privileges as those who obey the law. It's kind of not your fault if your parents broke the law and not you, but either way, I think it's still wrong to break the law. -Miriam Bocanegra-14, Seattle, Washington

Q: Why do you think Congress did not pass the bill? I think that maybe this bill has been ignored because of negative stereotypes and illegal immigration issues. I would like to see this change because this would open up many opportunities for gifted people to have an equal opportunity. - Fabiola Rodriguez, 15, Rowlett, Texas I think it hasn’t been passed because it’s such a controversial topic. Many people are opposed to it, but there are also many people for it, too. I think [a bill like this] won’t have a chance to pass until Congress has a more liberal, Democratic population. -Cristina Saavedra, 16, Seattle, Washington

En Español En el 2007, una petición fue introducida en el congreso la cual eventualmente se dio a conocer como El Acto para el Desarrollo, Socorro y educación de Extranjeros menores de edad o DREAM Act por sus iniciales en inglés (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act). A este acto sólo le faltaron ocho votos para convertirse en ley. Ocho votos que hubieran podido haber cambiado ocho millones de vidas. El acto originó la batalla entre los que se oponen a la inmigración ilegal y los que apoyan soluciones para la inmigración. Por una parte, el DREAM Act ofrece oportunidades a miembros calificados de la comunidad quienes se lo merecen, pero otros lo ven como amnistía, la cual restituye inocencia a aquellos que son acusados de una ofensa.

Real Life - Q & A

Advice by Teen Reporters Geneva Diaz, Hiley Escobar, Samantha Escobar, Krystella Rangel and Anna-Alizette Ruiz

advice For Teens From Teens

My best friend moved schools, and we don’t really talk all that much know how I feel about that.” If you feel like the relationship is becoming abusive, you anymore due to work and different school hours. What can I do to should tell a school counselor or an authority figure about it. keep our friendship strong? Sometimes your friend’s emotions can seem different than what you expect. It may -Jennifer Gonzales, 16, Austin, Texas

Use e-mail and MySpace to keep in contact. How about a standing call each week to talk and catch up. Your paths might change, but if you feel like your friendship is worth maintaining, just keep each other updated about the events of your life. Many afterschool organizations welcome students from different schools, so if you don’t live too far away and you share a similar interest, you can join together. Good friends are hard to find, so if it’s meant to be you two can make it happen. You could even look into creating a Web site that only the two of you can access (check out www.ning.com). You can post messages, photos, blogs, etc.

Right now I’m struggling in school, trying to be there for my family and friends. On top of that, I’m trying to keep this relationship going with my boyfriend. How can I juggle school, work, family, friends and a boyfriend all at once so that it will be equal? -Julie Ybarra, 17, Austin, Texas Take it one day and focus on one problem at a time. Set one or two priorities for yourself each day and try not to procrastinate. During the week you can focus on your school work. Perhaps after school you can hang out socially for a little while, but go home early enough to finish any homework and spend time with your family each night. You can really use your weekends for social time. We encourage you to keep school as your top priority—your family, friends and boyfriend should support you through that.

How can I get over my ex? -Valerie Ruiz, 14, Austin, Texas You might want to take a hiatus from seeing anyone for a while. It’s a good idea to stay busy so that your mind isn’t focused solely on the break-up. Surround yourself with friends and family and participate in activities that make you happy like exercising, going to the pool, reading, watching happy movies, joining after-school clubs, window shopping or going out to eat. During your downtime, you could use journal writing or poetry as an outlet for your emotions. You never want to completely avoid your feelings—there will be days that you are sad, and it’s okay to cry. Holding those feelings inside can make you sick or stressed out.

not be a bad idea to keep out of it because your friend might need to find out for himself that he’s making bad decisions. If several of your friends feel the same way, however, perhaps you could get together and have a group heart-to-heart with your friend. Oneon-one confrontations can lead to arguments, but if your friends approach him in a calm and collected way, you might have an effect. Whatever your friend decides, try to be supportive.

Mi mejor amiga se cambio de escuela y ya no hablamos casi nunca debido al trabajo y a nuestros diferente horarios escolares. ¿Qué puedo hacer para mantener nuestra amistad fuerte? Jennifer Gonzáles, 16, Austin, Texas

Usa correo electrónico y My Space para mantenerse en contacto. Pueden planear un tiempo cada semana para platicar y ponerse al día. Sus caminos pueden cambiar pero si sienten que su amistad vale la pena conservarla simplemente manténganse al día de los eventos de sus vidas. Muchas organizaciones de actividades después de la escuela aceptan a estudiantes de otras escuelas así que si no viven muy lejos y comparten intereses similares pueden inscribirse juntas. Las buenas amigas son difíciles de encontrar así que si la amistad está destinada a continuar ustedes dos lo pueden lograr. Podrías investigar como crear una página Web que solamente ustedes puedan acceder. Pueden incluir blogs, fotografías, mensajes, etc.

Need consejos? Send your questions to latinitasmag@yahoo.com

My best friend is with this one guy who treats him like crap, but still keeps going back to him. Should I keep out of it or should I try to help him out? - Anonymous Voice your opinion to your friend once, but if he doesn’t change anything it might be good idea to leave it alone. If he asks your advice on it again, just say, “You already

Latinitas  11

Latina Beat - Quiz

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This little quiz may not be that simple, but we challenge you to complete it. Don’t be afraid to open a book or surf the Web for the answers to these questions on Latina/o history and culture. These are people and things that every Latina should know! After filling out all of the answers, the highlighted letters will spell a secret word that you can read from top to bottom. Keep this mantra in mind in everything that you do! To get the answers, go to www.

___ ___ ___

* The word Raza does not have one exact definition. In this quiz, we are connecting to an essay titled La Raza Cósmica that was published in 1925 by José Vasconcelos. He was an educator and philosopher in Mexico who envisioned many Hispanic peoples coming together. During the Chicano (Mexican-American) movement of the early 1970s, the term was used in the United States to denote cultural pride. We are building on the word as it relates to many of us whose families our proud of our histories and who have shared in similar struggles as Spanish speaking and Latino residents and immigrants.

Latina Beat - Culture

y t r a P a n a h T e Mor The History of the

Quinceañera By Jeannette Bellemeur

“Today, I become a woman. I will leave home a child and return a woman. In the eyes of my community, I am changed forever….”


hese are pretty heavy thoughts for a 15-year-old girl. Thousands of Latina girls throughout the Americas share these thoughts as they continue the tradition of the quinceañera. This celebration marks the beginning of the girl’s life and her acceptance of the next phase in life. Also known as the quince, this festivity has a rich history, is steeped in symbolic customs and is everevolving. Today, many girls modernize their parties by including slide shows and DJs, but many rituals stay the same. Latinas from varied backgrounds share the commonality of the quinceañera; it transcends class and nationality lines. Although the family’s finances may determine the size, cost and details of the party, the overall meaning and core elements do not change.

History The history of the quinceañera is often traced back to the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. At the age of 15, girls in these cultures were viewed as women and trained for womanhood. The final ceremony was one of transformation where the girl was recognized for the first time as a woman in her community, ready to get married and perform all tasks and responsibilities of an adult. When the Spaniards arrived in the Americas, they continued with this tradition with added European and Christian elements. The Indigenous ceremony was transformed into a Catholic mass. The reception with dinner and dancing was modeled from European debutante parties. Most quinceañeras today have been boiled down to the mass followed by the reception and still honor the customs that began centuries ago with our Indigenous ancestors.

Religious Celebration This religious component of a quince is called la misa de acción de gracias. While quinces are commonly associated with the Catholic church, several religious groups host these ceremonies. The young woman wears an elegant gown and head piece for the mass. Although the gown has traditionally been white as a symbol of purity, pastel colors have become popular recently. In the mass, the girl’s headpiece is replaced with a crown to symbolize she is a princess of God. Religious gifts like a Bible, rosary and cross may be presented to signify her faith. In some churches, the quinceañera may present roses to honor the Virgin Mary.

Latinitas  13

Latina Beat - Culture

Quinces: Trend or Tradition Latinitas Sound Off

Compiled by Hiley Escobar and Anna-Alizette Ruiz

Do you think that quinceñearas today are as meaningful as they were intended to be? “No, I think girls use it as an excuse for it to be their day.” -Marisa Rodriguez, 17, Killeen, Texas

“Yes, but it depends on the family.” -Melissa Marie Robles, 16, Austin, Texas

“Well, I haven’t really decided yet. There are some people that really take this whole quince thing to heart, but to some people, there are more important things to them than having a party where everyone fights with each other.” -Angel Sanchez, 14, Missouri

“Not really. They are really just used to have a reason to have a big party.”

Traditional Meanings Many families begin saving for the event when their daughter is very young. Relatives and close family friends often band together to offer monetary contributions to cover specific costs like the dress, cake, reception hall and food; these donors are called madrinas or padrinos. As an important family event, the family’s help is a key component in the planning process. The reception following mass is rich with traditional rituals also. The court accompanies the girl and her chambelán (escort). The girl enters in flat shoes with a doll, signifying her childhood. After being introduced and welcomed, guests toast the birthday girl with congratulations, blessings and well wishes for a long, happy life. Afterwards, she dances the first waltz with her father. This is often rehearsed, and the father and daughter choose a meaningful song. When the dance is over, the father changes the daughter’s flat shoes into her first pair of high heels and gives her a scepter to represent the transition to womanhood. Her dad hands her off to her chambelán for a choreographed dance routine with her court. The young woman gives her last doll to a little girl at the event as a gesture of leaving her childish ways behind. The party continues with eating, dancing and socializing—an evening no one will forget. This ancient rite of passage is still a relevant part of young women’s lives today. It is a special time to reflect upon the importance of family and tradition. It is also a time for young women to think about life experiences yet to come and gain an understanding of what their culture means to them.

- Alexandra Gonzalez, 15, Little Rock, Arkansas

“I can’t wait to have mine. We are already planning it, and it’s just going to be so beautiful. I really think it is still meaningful.” - April Martinez, 14, Round Rock, Texas

How important do you think it is for young Latina women to have a quince? “It isn’t important at all because people either don’t have one or they don’t really celebrate it the way it should be or for the right reasons.” -Marisol Barker, 19, Salado, Texas

“It’s very important. It shows we’re more grown-up and starting a new life.” -Sarai Garza, 14, Austin, Texas

“No, it isn’t really important at all because if it were then everyone would have one. It is like a trend that is going out of style and is slowly but surely going to die out.” -Lacinda Skolnik, 15, Pflugerville, Texas

“It honestly doesn’t even matter. I know it sounds bad since I’m a Latina coming from a really religious catholic family, but oh well.”

En Español La “quinceañera” o los “quince” es el rito de convertirse de niña a mujer en la cultura Latina. Ahora muchas niñas modernizan sus fiestas incluyendo presentaciones digitales y disk jockey, pero aún así muchos de los rituales permanecen iguales sin importar la clase social o nacionalidad. Aunque el estado económico de la familia determina el tamaño de la fiesta y la cantidad invertida, los elementos claves permanecen iguales.

Historia A los 15 años, las niñas en las culturas Aztecas y Mayas se convertían en mujeres y participaban en entrenamiento para ser mujeres. Con la llegada de los españoles, la ceremonia Indígena se convirtió en una misa Católica. La mayoría de las quinceañeras hoy en día aún participan en la misa seguida por una recepción y honran costumbres históricas.

Celebración Religiosa Aunque los quince son normalmente asociados con la iglesia Católica, otros grupos religiosos también ofrecen la misa de acción de gracias. La quinceañera se viste con un vestido elegante y un adorno de pelo para la misa el cual se reemplaza por una corona simbolizando que es una princesa de Dios. Regalos religiosos representan su fe.

- Victoria Flores, 16, Pflugerville, Texas

Significados Tradicionales

“I think it is an important part of Latin tradition. I’ve seen a lot of it in my hometown mainly to share this phase of transitioning from child to womanhood.”

La quinceañera es considerada un evento importante a nivel familiar por lo que la ayuda de parte de la familia es clave durante la preparación (madrinas y padrinos). Durante la recepción, la corte acompaña a la niña y a su chambelán. La agasajada entra con zapatos bajos cargando una muñeca, los cuales son reemplazados por unos zapatos de tacón alto por su padre y el juguete es regalado a una niña como símbolo de madurez. Ella baila su primer vals con su padre. Es una noche inolvidable.

-Lorena Mondragon Rodriguez, 19, El Paso, Texas

How would you answer these questions? Go post your repsonse at Latinitas online community mylatinitas.com 14  Latinitas

Her Story - Girl Diary

College Y Tu Futuro A young woman tells us how she took a chance to make a change. By Carmen Rodriguez


t was my senior year when I decided I wanted to go to college. For the longest time, I thought college was not in my futuro because I failed my freshman year and lacked direction in high school. But late in my high school career, I transferred into a charter school that gave me a fresh academic start. There, I met an English teacher who told me flat out that I would go to college one way or another. I didn’t believe her at first, but I started thinking about the possibilities with her encouragement. I made the decision to apply for college three months before I was set to graduate. You can imagine how freaked out I was. Here I was about to graduate in December, and I had just started applying to colleges. I was completely overwhelmed. Suddenly, I had all of these questions to answer. Where should I apply? Will my grades be good enough? Should I go out-of-state? What will I study? Where will I live? Like many other students who are the first in their family to attend college, my biggest concern was how was I going to pay for tuition. With so much to do and think about, I didn’t know where to start. It takes a lot of time and organization to put together an application packet that will wow a university, but I just took it one step at a time. I marched up to my counselor’s office determined, a little unsure of myself, and full of questions. Like most people, I underestimated how much help I could receive by just asking for it. Thankfully, the college counselor at my school was understanding and supportive. I asked her a million questions. I got tons of information about colleges, the application process, what scholarships to apply for and Web sites to help research financial aid. My grade point average at the time was below what most scholarships required. Therefore, I looked for scholarships that focused more on what I could offer, such as experience in extracurricular activities and volunteer service. During my senior year, I participated in every student organization on campus and volunteered with different organizations in my community. Community involvement, leadership experience and examples of responsibility are things that can really stand out on any scholarship and college application. Once I got comfortable filling out scholarship applications, I had enough courage to explore potential colleges. While researching colleges, I narrowed down my search by creating a list of characteristics that matched with my interests, and which I wanted my university to offer. Initially, I looked for fine arts schools because I wanted to be an artist. Although I enjoyed the arts a great deal, I did not limit my options by only researching fine art colleges. One of my other interests is volunteering and helping others, so I looked for universities that offered great social work programs for undergraduates. Ultimately, social work seemed to be the path that I would follow. I narrowed my choices to four colleges in my state. Since I hadn’t always been focused or disciplined in my studies, I was initially pretty fearful about applying to college. I wasn’t really encouraged to pursue college by mi familia and life at home was rough for my siblings and me. The more I thought about my future and what a college education would mean, the more driven I became. I recall staying at school until 7 p.m. just printing and making copies of my writings, awards and college application essays to put together a portfolio that would showcase my skills. Most colleges do not require that you send in a portfolio, but I felt it was necessary to offer something that would stand out from the many other applications colleges review. Trying to make everything perfect was exhausting. I felt inadequate and attempting to meet the application deadlines with little preparation seemed impossible. But as I put together a strong and compelling package, I tried to focus on the fact that I did have influence over the university admissions officers’ decision to accept me. I graduated in December 2006 and continued researching scholarships and volunteering. By the middle of April, I had applied for more than 30 different scholarships and still hadn’t received any awards. Then, I received a call from my high

school counselor who informed me that I finished in the top 10 percent of my class. I got so excited that I literally jumped for joy and fell off my bed and landed flat on my face. For me, it was a huge accomplishment to simply graduate, so finishing in the top 10 percent was something I didn’t expect. The good news did not end there. I was awarded the President’s Bronze Volunteer Service Award for my volunteer work with Latinitas magazine and ComputerCorps, an extension of the AmeriCorps program. In addition, I received a scholarship sponsored by my high school that covered the cost of an entire year of tuition! Around the same time, I was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin. After all my hard work, it finally seemed as though everything had fallen into place. Now, I am starting my sophomore year at the University of Texas. Before I was accepted, my friends and counselors all told me that I was going to love college and it would be one of the best experiences of my life. This couldn’t have been more true. My freshman year has been full of excitement, growth and hard work. Most students will change their major at least once or twice, but I’ve decided to double major with social work and government. I realized I wanted to do this after becoming more involved in campus organizations, such as the Latinitas College Council, the Latino Leadership Council and University Democrats. Politics is a new passion of mine, and last November I performed a poem and gave a speech in front of First Lady Laura Bush. Every challenge has been a blessing. I’ve allowed myself to explore new opportunities, and it’s made for an incredible first year. I believe that you just need to have an open mind in all aspects of life. College is off to a great start and that’s only because I believe in my ability to be successful and am willing to work hard to achieve my goals.

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En Español

Latinitas  15

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