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These Successful Latinas Dish Their Best Advice

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It’s Women’s History Month, which means that we get to reflect on the women making history this year, and hope to make the list the next year. Being a Latina woman puts us up against unique stereotypes with unique backgrounds. There is no singular Latina experience.

These women have shared how they shaped their experience of success as a Latina in a white world. Whether you want to climb to the top of the entertainment industry, politics, law, or advocacy, prepare to be inspired.

Jennifer Lopez on loving yourself.

CREDIT: @jlo / Instagram

In her own memoir, “True Love,” brilliant, filthy rich Jenny from the Block wrote,

“As women, we almost never give ourselves enough credit for what we’re capable of, for what we endure and how giving we are.
Part of loving yourself is about forgiving yourself – which is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s the messy parts that make us human, so we should embrace them too – pat ourselves on the back for getting through them rather than being angry for having gotten into them in the first place. Because loving yourself is ultimately about self-acceptance, about embracing every part of who you are. And that’s never just one thing.”

Frida Kahlo on knowing yourself.

CREDIT: @ReadingInHeels / Instagram

Kahlo famously once said, “I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.” May we all strive to yearn for our true selves above anyone else. This is why she is an icon.

Cardi B on the meaning of feminism.

CREDIT: @iamcardib / Instagram

We all love Cardi B, and fell hard when she told Billboard, “Being a feminist is such a great thing and some people feel like someone like me can’t be as great as that. But then some people are smart but they don’t have no common sense. They think feminism is great and only a woman that can speak properly, that has a degree, who is a boss, a businessperson… they think only Michelle Obama can be a feminist. But being a feminist is real simple; it’s that a woman can do things the same as a man. I’m equal to a n—-. Anything a man can do, I can do. I can finesse, I can hustle. We have the same freedom. I was top of the charts. I’m a woman and I did that. I do feel equal to a man.”

Laurie Hernandez on self-empowerment.

CREDIT: @lauriehernandez / Instagram

The world was watching as 16-year-old Puerto Rican American Laurie Hernandez took to the beam in the 2016 Olympics. That’s why we noticed her whisper “you got this” just before she freaking nailed it. #NewMantra

Selena Quintanilla on breaking glass ceilings.

CREDIT: @athena_vintage / Instagram

Selena shattered all expectations of the male-dominated Tejano scene, but not without difficulty. She once said, “Tejano music was hard for us because I was a girl. My dad had a lot of problems while trying to set up shows for us because there are a lot of men who don’t think that women can get the attention of the public. But … WRONG!”

Sonia Sotomayor on the power of a Latina perspective.

CREDIT: @wes_sherman / Instagram

The first Latina Supreme Court Justice overcame all odds. She was raised by an alcoholic parent, who died when she was just eight years old, and still managed to get into Princeton and then Yale Law school. When conservatives were criticizing her for parading herself as a “wise Latina,” she famously responded with this very legalese clapback:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Justina Machado on finding humor in a political world.

CREDIT: @justinamachado / Instagram

No question, “One Day at a Time” actress, Justina Machado, is the first to call Trump a pendejo. That said, when a pendejo is criticizing you, the best clapback can be to just say, boy bye.

“I’m a wise Latina woman. Whatever, man. Thank God I’m not in politics, because the fact that you have to explain everything – I’d kill myself. I can’t take all those little things they dissect. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, get a life.’ I don’t have time for this.”  😂

Rita Moreno on authenticity.

CREDIT: @femaleACEs / Instagram

The 86-year-old award-winning actress has gifted us with her memoir and the inspo for us all to start our own: “If you’re going to write about your life, you must write about your life.” There are so many ways to interpret this, but my takeaway is that your life is unique. Cross-referencing anyone else’s will lead you astray from your goal. Be you, boo.

America Ferrera on body positivity.

CREDIT: @americaferrera / Instagram

We know her beginnings from “Real Women Have Curves” and her message stays true. “To me, the tragedy about this whole image-obsessed society is that young girls get so caught up in just achieving that, they forget to realize that they have so much more to offer the world.”

As Latinas, we’re far less likely to be naturally supermodel thin and our beautiful thoughts are more likely to be robbed by diet culture. Time to reclaim our fat, juicy brains and take up space.

Naya Rivera on having an eating disorder as a Latina.

CREDIT: @nayarivera / Instagram

In her memoir, “Sorry, Not Sorry,” the “Glee” actress opened up about her eating disorder and how her mom took it:

“I finally worked up the nerve to tell my dad that I thought I was anorexic, which was a slap in the face to my parents. I don’t think that either of them had even known anyone with an eating disorder before, and while they knew it was a big deal, they still had no idea what to do about it. At one point my mom even said, “Naya, this is some white-people shit.””

Dolores Huerta on how girls are bred to serve.

CREDIT: @doloreshuerta / Instagram

Dolores Huerta was the lead negotiator in the labor contracts between migrant farm workers and Big Ag. New moms, here’s how you make a Dolores Huerta:

“My mother never made me do anything for my brothers, like serve them. I think that’s an important lesson, especially for the Latino culture, because the women are expected to be the ones that serve and cook and whatever. Not in our family. Everybody was equal.”

Mariah Carey on turning struggles into achievements.

CREDIT: @mariahcarey / Instagram

Mariah Carey is most known as the Queen of Christmas, but many might not know that she’s battling bipolar II disorder. She told People magazine,

“I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

Eva Longoria on raising feminist men.

CREDIT: @evalongoria / Instagram

It’s no secret Longoria is a feminist. I had the honor of hearing her speak at the Women’s March when she called for radical change to the corporate bottom line, to elected positions, and systematic change to include women in America’s wealth. On Instagram, she announced that she was having a boy with this caveat:

“This boy, my son, will be surrounded by very strong, educated, powerful women and I think it’s important that he sees those types of role models in his life so he knows how to support it, how to applaud it and how to honor it.”

Gina Rodriguez on “busting that b*tch down.”

CREDIT: @hereisgina / Instagram

The star of “Jane the Virgin” knows what rejection feels like. It feels like fuel to f*ck sh*t up when you finally get that chance to make your dreams come true.

“Yes, there are 150 doors that are going to slam in your face, but there’s going to be the one with a little crack in it, and you’re going to bust that b*tch down.”

Salma Hayek on being gentle with yourself.

CREDIT: @salmahayek / Instagram

We’re all competing for the status of exhaustion in this world, but Hayek suggests competing for your happiness in this world. She told Stylist, “You have to believe in yourself. You have to take care of yourself, work for yourself, believe in yourself, and also be patient with yourself. Learn when not to push too hard, and give yourself a break.”

Selena Gomez on healing old wounds.

CREDIT: @selenagomez / Instagram

Gomez is probably the most successful young Latina out here, but she’s human, too. At the American Music Awards in 2016, she told America, “If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.”

Carmen Yulín Cruz on scrapping the “play nice” prescription for women in politics.

CREDIT: @muerto2go / Instagram

San Juan Mayor Cruz has become a household name in the aftermath of Hurricane María. Here’s how she did that:

“Politics is a rough game, and sometimes as females we are taught that you have to play nice. Sometimes you can’t play nice.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on breaking the mold.

CREDIT: @thehill / Instagram

In an interview with “Girls Who Code,” AOC opened up:

“When you’re only seeing white dudes just like, running the world, you think you need to act like a white dude to run the world. The problem is that mold wasn’t made for you, and so even if you try the hardest at being that, you will not be as good as someone who is just that already.

That’s why I’ve tried really hard to authentically be myself while I’m here in this moment and in this position, because I want to show other people that there are other ways of being powerful in the world.”

Red lips and hoops, baby. I’m here for it.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on unconditional love.

CREDIT: @roslehtinen / Instagram

Ros-Lehtinen (R) is the first Latina to be elected to Congress and has served for thirty years. During her tenure, she’s tackled issues that today’s GOP would staunchly oppose. She raised a trans son and has fought for Marriage Equality. Here’s what she told the Human Rights Campaign:

“It’s important for families to support their children and to support their children’s choices. It’s important to listen to your children, accept your children and have your children know that you love them unconditionally. It’s not “I love you, but …”—there’s no “but.” “It’s just “I love you.”… To do otherwise is—you’re hurting yourself, you’re going to shun your child or grandchild. You’re going to say, “No, I have my views and my views are the perfect views and no one can have a different point of view. I’m right and everything else is wrong.” And that’s a lonely way to live. It just means you’ll be out of that person’s life, and who wants to be cut out of their child’s life?”

MJ Rodriguez on holding herself back.

CREDIT: @REVRYTV / Instagram

MJ Rodriguez tells Paper Magazine about what gave by the time she auditioned for hit series “Pose”:

“Well, want to know something? There was a point in time where I was scared, and I hadn’t gone in for roles before Pose had even started. I had hindered myself by being in the way and thinking that world wouldn’t receive me, and then I stepped out of my way and I started going in for roles as the woman I was. Even though my mindset was “They’re going to say no, they’re not going to want me,” I challenged myself to be 100% who I was and not care what anyone thought, and when I walked into that room and just stepped into myself, the people behind the table didn’t care!”

Believe in yourselves, hunnies, and the rest will follow.

READ: Honor #WomensHistoryMonth With These Latina Rapper Bangers

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'Amor Eterno' Has Become The Song I Carry With Me In Love And Loss

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‘Amor Eterno’ Has Become The Song I Carry With Me In Love And Loss

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The strings of the mariachi’s violins began to play the opening notes of “Amor Eterno,” and my arms were immediately covered in goosebumps. I began to cry. I tried to stifle my sobs with my hand, but there was no holding them back.

I looked around and saw my friend Priscilla was doing the same, and like a domino effect, the rest of our group began to well up with tears.

Here I am sobbing my eyes out to “Amor Eterno.” Photo credit: Shawna Ghafouri-Wehrley

A couple of years ago, eight of my girlfriends and I took a trip to Mexico City. While there was plenty of good times had, the highlight that has come to define that time is all of us drinking micheladas aboard a colorful trajinera in Xochimilco and crying to the mariachi playing “Amor Eterno.”

Over the years, that song has grown to signify something greater for many of us, providing a poignant soundtrack to our individual grief. For Priscilla, it’s her sister. For me, it’s my dad.

To say “Amor Eterno” holds a special place in my heart would be a gross understatement.

Written by arguably Mexico’s greatest composer, Juan Gabriel, the song is a first-person account of someone mourning the loss of a loved one who passed.

Como quisiera / que tu vivieras / que tus ojitos / jamas se hubieran / cerrado nunca / y estar mirandolos / Amor Eterno / Inolvidable

It was first released in 1984 by the legendary late singer Rocío Dúrcal on her album “Canta a Juan Gabriel Volumen 6,” a collection of her renditions of Gabriel songs. Gabriel himself would go on to perform it. The album and song became a massive hit, with the album being introduced into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame.

While urban legend says the song is about Durcal’s son, who died in an accident in Acapulco, Gabriel wrote “Amor Eterno” in honor of his mother, who died in 1974. He received the news of her death while on tour in Acapulco, which is referenced in the song. El más triste recuerdo de Acapulco.

Dúrcal herself was not Mexican, but rather from Madrid. However, thanks in large part to her career-defining work with Gabriel, she has become one of Mexico’s biggest icons. Her remains are even divided between her home in Torrelodones, Spain, and Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Mexico City. The song is perhaps the crowning achievement in their body of collaborative work and became a vital piece in Mexico’s cultural canon.

Because of this, “Amor Eterno” lives in my blood. It rattles my soul with its achingly beautiful strings, melancholy words, and the longing in Dúrcal’s voice. It’s there in every important moment, regardless of if it’s a joyous or tragic one.

Credit: Christina Henderson

Even so, the song has reached beyond Mexico’s borders. Last year, an all-woman Guajira Son band played the song for me and my friends in Havana. The singer even held her hand to her chest and said “Canción hermosa! Viva México!”

Just as its title suggests, the song speaks to love that is eternal, love that isn’t limited to the physical presence of the one you hold in your heart and continues after our bodies turn to dust. “Amor Eterno” holds this power for many, particularly those who have suffered a great loss.

Coming from a culture that reveres death and the spiritual world makes the song even more meaningful. We even have a holiday dedicated to honoring the dead and giving them a bridge to return to Earth for a single night to spend with their loved ones. We mourn our dead openly and emotionally, and this song encompasses that intrinsic part of the culture.

Durcal’s sweet voice drips of yearning, twisting your heart into a knot. Funerals and memorial services often include a playing of “Amor Eterno” for weeping families and friends, sometimes played by a live mariachi plucking their guitars in the middle of the cemetery amongst all the other lost loves.

Growing up in Tijuana, baby showers (pronounce beybee chow-werrss by mom and tías) and despedidas de soltera always included the father- or groom-to-be arriving with a mariachi to serenade his beloved with “Amor Eterno,” perhaps as a promise that his devotion will be undying. If they break up, and many in my family did, the song is there again to kick them in the gut, even in the middle of a party – something I’ve definitely witnessed.

Just as Gabriel wrote this song to honor his late mother, the song has become the way I honor my dad. When he passed away in 2009, we decided not to have a mariachi at his memorial service, nor play Rocio’s singular version of the song, knowing we wouldn’t be able to handle hearing it in the presence of his photo and the marble urn that now contained every trace of his physical being.

Since then, the song has been there to simultaneously upset and console us, with Rocio’s voice speaking all the things we wish we could say: Y aunque tengo tranquila mi conciencia / Yo sé que pude haber yo hecho más por ti.

Every Christmas and Thanksgiving, when we put Rocio Durcal on during dinnereveryone inevitably falls to pieces, our tears salting our mashed potatoes. This past year was the first time no one broke down thinking of our dad, which later sent me down a guilt spiral thinking we’ve started to forget about him. So I listened to “Amor Eterno” alone in my car and brought him back.

Listening to the song is almost masochistic, and after this last Christmas, I realized that I continue requesting it from any mariachi within a 10-foot radius because of the pain it inflicts.

In listening to “Amor Eterno,” I ensure the hurt returns, and in doing so, my dad’s memory is still alive. If it keeps hurting, he’ll never be all the way gone.

Credit: Armen Manukian

When I begin to think about hearing the song when my mom passes, well I can’t. I can’t think about it because it’s just too much to handle.

A few years back, I took another step in commemorating this song’s importance in my life, and ensuring my dad’s lasting memory. Covering a large portion of my upper right arm is a skeleton hand holding a glass of red wine, all surrounded by pink roses. Rosas Mexicanas, vino, and skeletons are all symbols of life and death in my culture. And beneath it, in swirly cursive, is the song’s title. Now it’s an even bigger part of me, and the constant reminder of all my amores eternos.

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