“Are you sure you want to wear that, don’t you think it’s a bit revealing?”
“Hey shorty do you need help grabbing that?”
“You have a big butt for a petite girl.”
These are a few phrases that I have received that directly attack me and my body. Most people wouldn’t know this because I try to be as confident as possible, but I have struggled my whole life to accept and embrace my body. I am nearly five feet with what my mama calls a “voluptuous” figure. I have thick thighs and a big ol’ booty that refuses to fit into skinny jeans. Not only that, but I am also of bigger built … “on top.” Thus, my body type has caused me to not hate, rather despise going shopping. I get so frustrated when I try on 5, 10, 15, 20 pairs of pants and can’t seem to find any that fit. They either drag on the floor or they will not button close (ugh just thinking about it gets me heated). When I finally find the perfect pair of pants that accentuates my body and makes me feel like a million bucks … I check the price… $70! To some, seventy dollars is a fair price for a pair of pants, but my mama has taught me to only buy clothing on clearance or from thrift stores. I’ve never been allowed to buy clothing that isn’t on clearance or without using every coupon I could possibly find. I try not to complain because I know how much my parents struggle financially because of my sister and I; however, I’ve got to admit: It suckssss. Even when I have money I feel guilty if I buy clothes not on sale. In fact, when I do "treat myself" there is a 50/50 chance I will return it out of guilt. In short, I am not a fan of shopping due to my disproportional body.
I think what I hate most about my body is that I feel the need to hide it in order to make others “comfortable” with it. For instance, in high school, I remember one hot, sweaty day - the type where your thighs stick together and you can feel sweat drip from the back of your neck - I saw other girls wearing tank tops and short shorts. However, these girls were skinny and didn’t have a “bigger top” like me. This caused me to hesitate while I took of my sweater … but I still did it because IT WAS HOT AS HELL. I then walked down the hallway, passing several others with tank tops on, only to be confronted with a uniform infraction.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Do you know how it feels to be degraded because of your body? Well, if you don’t, it sucks. After that incident, I stopped wearing my school uniform … an internal protest I am proud of. I couldn't understand how I was being punished when there were soooo many other girls wearing the exact same thing as me, but according to the teacher I was being “too revealing.”
Time has passed and I can finally say I no longer cry when I see myself in the mirror (In fact, I even posted a new full body selfie on my insta). Nonetheless, I am still in the process of learning to love my body. And for all you ladies out there, actually scratch that .. for anyone out there (fellas included) just know that you are beautiful. Also, please be cautious when talking about another persons body because you never know the impact it will leave on him or her.
If you’re still reading this and would like to read a bit more, I have attached an essay I wrote about my body, but this time it is titled “Confidence.” I hope you enjoy it.
Every Latina has gone through a “Dora the Explora” stage. When I was two years old my mom, against my dad’s judgment, decided I would look cute in a bowl cut. With my hair cut short, and my dad dressing me in Power Ranger t-shirts, people would mistake me as a boy, calling me mijo instead of mija. This was when I began to identify myself as a tomboy. All through elementary school, I prefered to play with boys. I treasured the moments where I was chosen first for kickball, or when a girlfriend asked me for advice on how to talk to her crush. Thanks to my hair, I became the “it” girl during my elementary school years.
In middle school, my hairstyle changed just as much as my personality. I grew my hair out to my lower back, and I adorned it with pins and hairbands. In 6th grade, I strayed away from being friends with all the boys, to having a romantic interest in them. I specifically liked this one boy, who will remain unnamed, because we shared similar interests, such as the same taste in music, and we were both enthusiastic about our Leadership club. We became close, and I felt comfortable joking around with him, until one day he took it too far. He said in a degrading tone, “Wow, your mustache and eyebrows are thicker than my own.” I was deeply offended by this, because I had already been self-conscious about my facial hair. I went home that day in tears, as I no longer felt comfortable around boys.
My dad’s family is from a little town in Mexico called Puebla. There, people have skin the color of cafe con leche, that is, they are olive skinned. Recently, my uncle told my dad, “Anissa’s face is completely Poblana.” I took this as a compliment, as I know people associate Poblana’s to be hard-working.
Another time I was volunteering at a local food kitchen in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, when a homeless man initiated a conversation with me by asking, “You’re latina right?” I was surprised he sounded so confident, since most people assume me to be of Filipino descent because of my straight black hair. Nonetheless, I answered with a cheerful, “yes.” The man began to describe my skin color, and how he could easily “spot his kind.” He introduced himself as Enrique, and told me he was from El Salvador. He had traveled to California in search for a better paying job, so that he could send money to help his daughter pay for her private college in El Salvador. He also told me how I should be proud of my skin, as it represents my ancestors, and how he was jealous of my skin because unlike him I am not prieto, or dark-skinned. Enrique, whom I helped feed that morning, taught me to be confident in my own skin. He ended up helping me more than I helped him.
My grandpa calls me chaparrita,which is latin slang for “short.” I am five feet tall, but around my family I am of average height. The house that I live in now was built by my mother’s uncle, who was a mere five feet. We bought the house in 03’, because my mother wanted to raise my sister and I away from the Daly City fog. The house was once my grandparents, so as it was familiar, it was a comfortable move. When we first welcomed in visitors, we realized how our house wasn’t fit for those of average height. Once, our neighbor came in and he bumped his head on the entryway of our kitchen. Now, whenever we have new guests that exceed five and a half feet, we tell them to proceed with caution, as to avoid hitting their heads.
My height has never been a problem for me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been called names, I just choose to ignore the comments because I am happy with my height. Being five feet allows me to squeeze in the front row of a concert, and it enables me to pay $5 less at movie theaters (since I can pass as a twelve year old.) I am grateful to have grown up surrounded by family who have instilled in me the confidence to ignore negative remarks and to love the body I am in.