Fierce

We Asked 12 Latinas To Share Their Thoughts On Aging – And Their Responses Are Deep, Powerful, And Fierce

As many of us know far too well, aging can be a daunting process. Age and time are inherently scary, and many of us try not to think about it — well, until we start to see a few gray hairs, and our hips and knees start hurting in ways they never did before.

Age is not all good, but it’s certainly also sweet: to grow older is a privilege, because it simply means you were granted yet another year spending time with loved ones, accomplishing goals, and even just admiring nature. The bittersweet process of growing older is still something we admittedly struggle with — especially in a society that seems to prize youth above all else.

We asked 13 incredible Latinas about their experience with aging, and their responses show we’re mujeres poderosas no matter our age.

Aging: such a natural process, yet so hard to get used to it. I always ask myself why is it so hard to see our faces and bodies age? Perhaps, it is society’s expectations or the fact that we want to be young forever. What bothers me the most is my fast color-changing hair from a beautiful dark brown to a gray. I have not been able to accept that. I have not colored it either, but I am close to it. I do believe that the way we take care of bodies with nutrition and exercise play a huge role in our aging process. In this sense, I can say that I am thankful to be able to do that. 

— Leonila Campos, MBA, RD, founder and CEO of Fueled by Leo, Inc. 

I grew up in the 90s where everything was focused on being super skinny and staying young. Once I hit my mid-twenties, I gave myself a hard time every time I turned another year older. I saw my face changing and I did what I could about any imperfections. Once I hit my 30s, my skin took a major downward turn. But funny enough, I learned to love the skin I am in. Sure, there are dark marks and fine lines, hyperpigmentation I try to fix, but it doesn’t mean I love it any less.

What helped was watching my friends and family, who should be here today, pass. I won’t go into too much detail, but their lives mattered. And they didn’t get the chance to age. They didn’t get the chance to watch their children or grandchildren grow, or see amazing new technology we have today. 

Now, as I approach my forties, I’m thankful for every year I grow older. That is another year of life I get to live. I have a new business, a great family, a home, my health — and I am thankful for all of it. I live for those who did not.

Aging is a privilege not everyone gets to have.

— Linda Granillo, BeautieSocial

My name is Lilian Cachoeira. I’m a 40-year-old Brazilian living in the U.S. I’ve been married for 18 years, and we have four boys. Some people see aging as a weakness, and something they want to avoid, but for me, I see it as part of life. I think it shows that we lived, we’ve experienced things, and we have a lot to talk about. I guess I try to find balance in everything. I eat healthily, but I also indulge sometimes. I exercise, but not every day. I regret some decisions from the past, but then I try to make better choices for my future. Being a Latina living in the U.S. made me rethink a lot of things, compromise with a lot of things, and mature a lot faster.

— Lilian Cachoeira, Simple Living Recipes

I’m comfortable slowing the aging process as much as possible and do so with cosmetic injections every three months. I still workout and get dressed every day, even if I’m not going anywhere. I have no desire to show my age. 

— Pattie Cordova, Cordova Media Group LLC, Living Mi Vida Loca

At times, I still see the little brown girl navigating between two cultures, enriched with love by family, yet struggling between fitting in and belonging. I embrace these experiences, which shaped me into the unapologetic Latina I am today. Con canas, my spirit remains free and playful while owning my power and that of my antepasados. Embracing my identity, I use my voice to create space for others by inspiring them to see themselves and know they belong to a historic and diverse cultural heritage. Over time, I’ve learned age isn’t something to fear, but to take in and make your own.

— Bernadette Peña, Founder at Miella Media

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Having the ability to age is such a privilege and not something I take for granted. I’ve come to love every gray hair and every fine line. They’re part of my story, my experiences, and reflect a life fully lived. I believe I began to embrace aging when I became a mom to my young daughter. I wanted her to see someone that was comfortable in her skin and with her place in the world. And I believe she does. And I get to look in the mirror and see my mother, which is the best part of it all. 

— Jelitsa Legarreta, Uviña Skin

I’ve learned that practicing self-love and personal accomplishments has helped me grow as an individual as I age. I’m approaching the 30-year-old mark. While aging as a single Latina has certainly taken an emotional and physical effect on me, aging has also opened my eyes to the beauty of having an opportunity to live one more day and see my dreams through. Every year on my birthday, I create a vision board of the goals I want to see through. On my 28th birthday, I set out a goal to begin a dream of mine that [was] to create my custom formulation for curly folks. Since the launch of illicit curls, this is the happiest I have ever been, and for the first time, I can’t wait to get older and see what life has to offer. 

— Veronica Diaz, founder of illicit curls

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I realized that I was getting older when the tías finally included me in their conversation. I always left it up to my mom to speak for me as a kid. Any questions about me, they would ask my mom; family parties were pretty stress-free. Now, not so much. Questions about what I’m doing with my life, when am I going to get a boyfriend, why have I gained a bit of weight? Yeah, that’s up to me to answer. Getting older means you have to answer the tough questions around the dinner table, no more leaning on your parents to answer. I’m still getting used to it. 

— Jessica Arias, Nibelu

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Working in the entertainment industry, in this time and age (no pun intended) is a blessing, and quite a challenge, especially because this industry is unforgiven when it comes to aging women (just look around: how many gorgeous women in their 60s barely show a wrinkle… and how many men in their 40s flaunt them in red carpets and magazines?… exactly!) but at the same time the influx of interesting characters and storylines for women above 30 is increasing (and yet far between) so, it’s still an uphill battle, but a worthy one to increase representation of our stories on the screen.

— Eli Zavala, La Filmadora, Founder

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For me, aging is about awareness and acceptance. It is a painful process at times, but it can also be surprising and peaceful.

When I started to realize that I was becoming the “older” person in the room, it shocked me! And nothing made it more obvious to me than the disconnect I felt when it came to technology and the younger people around me. Learning about things like social media and intentionally stepping into technology has allowed me to engage with my own children more and has helped me to “reinvent” myself professionally after 25+ years in the mental health profession.  

In Hispanic culture, aging is about wisdom and experience and how to share that with the next generation. We have an extended family focus, so our elders are around, involved, and invested in maintaining our traditions and customs. American culture, on the other hand, values independence and individualism. Aging in a society that is highly goal-oriented and that glorifies youth can be challenging. It tends to affect us emotionally and spiritually as we age.

My clients talk to me about their fear and concerns about growing old in this culture… the fear of being isolated, misunderstood and not needed. I talk to them about the need to pivot our attention and focus as we age towards things that we love, that stimulate us, and that interest us. Prioritizing the Self as we age can help us navigate the many changes that come with aging. For Latinos, this may be a foreign concept, as we tend to be group-oriented and, in the case of women, caregivers. Putting ourselves as individuals first is not something we are accustomed to doing.

— Gilza Fort-Martinez, Therapist

I come from a Latina household and much of my upbringing had a heavy focus on aging as well as overall health. You couldn’t go one day without being scolded for not taking care of your skin because, “If you don’t, you will get wrinkled!” However, while this was advice I followed, I have found that superficially, I end up looking a lot younger than many of my friends. It’s a little weird to say, but I am consistently stopped and asked why, despite my age, why I am hanging out with such an older crowd, or being carded while ordering a drink. Internally, I also have noticed that while many of my friends complain of wear, tear or pain, the only thing I really deal with is mental fatigue overall. My experience aging has not been as bad, though admittedly as I get older I do have more of a focus on keeping my aging experience gradual!

— A. E. Fraser, Oh Black Betty

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Photos By Christy Is Whelmed

When I was 16, for a class assignment, I had to write an essay on where I saw myself in 10 years. I wrote that I saw myself becoming a lawyer and a mother. I considered those two to be guaranteed — I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and nothing would change that, and I was willing to be a single mother because I knew all I wanted was to be a mother. Like many people, life didn’t go how I planned. That’s not new or revolutionary. 

As I am turning 26 this year, I’m spending a lot of time reflecting on aging, specifically what I had planned and what was expected of me. I have cousins, similar to my age, who have two babies and are married. At my age, my sister was married and pregnant. I’m none of the above. I live with roommates, am single, and have no current desire to have to take care of another being. It has [made] me feel almost like a failure and for the first time in my life, I’m feeling nervous about turning a year older. 

— Christy Alfaro, Christy Is Whelmed

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