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Manicures Are Non-Essential But For Latinas, Acrylic Nails Have Always Been More Than A Luxury

For as long as I can remember, each and every time my mother has sat down at the table or leaned against our counter to sort through and clean her pinto beans, she has told me and my sisters the same story over and over again, almost as a ritual.

The story paints a picture of my adolescent mother, dark brown skin and darker hair, picking through the leftover beans her mother had already sorted through, trying to find the small beans that were split down the middle. 

She would take the halves she found, put craft glue on the ends, and press them onto whichever fingernail they fit best. When all 10 nails were dry, she would paint her new makeshift nail extensions with red polish and take on her day.

Like a church hymn I put no deliberate effort in memorizing, yet I know all the words to, I recall my mother’s voice saying “I wanted fake nails because they made me feel smart. I saw women speaking in both Spanish and their hands, and their long, colorful nails made them look sophisticated and intelligent to me. The nails were who I wanted to be.”

When the news hit of COVID-19 and the limitations on social life that would follow, both meme pages on social media and the Latinx women in my life poked fun at what would become of all the Latinxs who could no longer keep their nail appointments. As the severity of the coronavirus increased, nail products became less available on the shelves of my local drug stores. And while some people were stocking up on toilet paper, some were quietly making their way to the beauty aisles. 

When the women in my own life started their stockpiles of press-ons, my mother laughed behind a bowl of half cleaned pinto beans and said, “Everyone should just glue on beans like I did.”

This got me thinking; as the death toll rises and unemployment rates skyrocket, the things that society deems “non-essential,” such as nail services, are falling so far beyond the back-burner that they are seldom, if ever, being discussed. When lives are being lost, the grieving of a temporary naked nail isn’t worthy of being mentioned.

For Latinx women, acrylic nails have always been more than an ornament or a luxury.

@reynanoriega / Instagram

For centuries Latinx women have used nail art as an outlet for feminity, individuality, and self-care. Decorated nails serve as an extension of language and heritage. As my mother said, she saw the women who came before her speak with their hands, teaching the younger generations that there is power and intellect in femininity. For many Latinxs, that strength can often be tied to the nail. So what happens to Latinx women when that cultural ceremony is threatened? 

Nail appointments alone often serve as an escape from the daily life and struggles Latinx women face regularly.

@nailsby_jennn / Instagram

Half church, half therapy — the nail salon is a place for both communion and mental health. With the constant weight of responsibility Latinx’s face from both society and their own families weighing on them, the nail salon is one of the very few places women of all generations have used to carve out a space for personal care without judgment. 

Often mistaken as relics of self-sacrifice and duty, Latinx women have made a culture around using acrylic nails as a siren call to our refusal of being boxed in.

@yesikastarr / Instagram

If the world is going to tell us we can only be the homemakers, the child bearers, the caretakers, the cooks, the cleaners — then the middle finger we stick up at them should at least be decorated. 

But with COVID-19’s shelter-in-place having no end in sight, it’s safe to assume Latinxs all over the country are silently dealing with feelings of anxiety over their current loss of appendages. And while in no form do natural nails equate to human lives lost, there is still room in this conversation to acknowledge the validity in feelings of upset over sacred traditions being uprooted. 

While it’s seen as sacred for church congregations to gather in their vehicles in parking lots in efforts to recreate some semblance of a sanctuary, the longing for nail salons and their comforting familiarity in this time of complete distress can be seen as vain and frivolous.

@nailzbymarz / Instagram

That’s the thing about tradition. Unless you practice it, it’s nearly impossible to understand it. And for the majority of this country, it seems almost nonsensical to say that without two inches of painted plastic adhering to your nails, you feel as though it is more difficult to face the day. That without your bimonthly appointment for a fill, you can feel your confidence draining. It sounds absurd to someone who can’t grasp, that for Latinx women who are under even stronger pressures of taking care of families, depleting incomes, all while still facing prejudice within this system during this unprecedented time, we can’t help but feel that if we could only have our acrylic nails this would all feel more manageable. 

However, the spirit of my mother in her childhood still dances in my head. When she wasn’t of age to get professionally done acrylics yet, her glued on beans did not feel less like power to her. When she craved control over her womanhood and future as a Latinx, it was not the acrylic that gave her that affirmation, but rather her ingenuity and creativity of which always lied inside of her. 

During this pandemic era where we are learning how to live a life we have never known, questioning our own future as Latinxs, all while teaching our own hands how to move without the acrylic extensions of our identity, we should remind ourselves as my mother reminded me that the acrylic may be the tool, but the hands that hold them were always the makers. The nail does not make the woman. Just as my mother always taught me, the woman makes the nail.

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Mexico’s Famed Día De Muertos Events Are Going Virtual, Meaning It’s Easier Than Ever To Join The Celebrations

Culture

Mexico’s Famed Día De Muertos Events Are Going Virtual, Meaning It’s Easier Than Ever To Join The Celebrations

Jan Sochor / Getty Images

In Mexico, traditions are sacred and family is everything. So when the Coronavirus pandemic hit Mexico and threatened to take away many of the country’s prized traditions, people sprung into action to think outside the box so that communities could continue celebrating the year’s many traditions but in a low-risk way.

It’s this commitment to tradition and ingenuity that is helping Día de Muertos traditions live on this year, despite the surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.

Día de Muertos is usually celebrated across Central and Southern Mexico with large celebrations that include people from the entire pueblo. Well, obviously this year that isn’t exactly possible (or at least safe) so authorities are creating new ways to bring the important celebrations to Mexicans (and others) around the world.

Thanks to Covid-19, our Día de Muertos celebrations will look a lot different this year.

Typically at this time of year, Mexico bustles with activity and cities and pueblos across the country come to life full of color and scents. The cempasúchil – the typical orange marigolds associated with Día de Muertos – are everywhere and the scent is intoxicating.

However, things look exceptionally different this year. Mexican authorities have said cemeteries will remain closed for the Nov. 2 celebration, meaning that people aren’t buying up the flowers as in years past. In fact, according to many growers, less than half the typical amount have been grown this year.

Along with the cutback in flowers and typical holiday purchases, nearly all of the country’s major events have been cancelled by authorities. However, officials say that families can still celebrate but in more private ways or by tuning into online, virtual events.

Mexican authorities are urging people to practice sana distancia and avoid large family gatherings – including for Day of the Dead.

For many Mexicans, however, this year is especially important to celebrate the holiday in honor of the loved ones they’ve lost to the pandemic. Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries as there have been more than 855,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 86,338 deaths. Although those numbers are said to be highly skewed thanks to one of the world’s lowest testing rates.

“This year is very special because my family members died of COVID-19,” said Dulce Maria Torres in an interview with NBC News, who was buying flowers at a traditional market in the Mexican capital. “It’s important to me and we want to make them a beautiful offering.”

However, authorities are pleading with people to help contain the virus’ spread by avoiding the traditional family gatherings associated with the holiday.

As Mexico works to curb the spread of Covid-19, most events are going virtual this year.

Authorities across Mexico are working to maintain a balance between tradition and safety as they work to bring Día de Muertos celebrations to an online audience.

In an interview, Paola Félix Díaz, Director of the Tourism Promotion Fund, said that “Events such as the Day of the Dead are an opportunity to generate a tribute to all the people who have left because of this disease but also as a reminder of all the traditions that cannot be stopped.”

Officials are working an app called “Xóchitl, Mexico’s virtual ambassador for the world” that will work as an interactive digital platform featuring AR (Augmented Reality), which will include content related to Mexican traditions, culture, and entertainment.

The platform will give access to virtual events, live streaming for the promotion of beautiful Mexico City in a safe way without putting anyone at risk. The parade will be held inside a stadium or a recording studio, without public and following all COVID-19 protocols. The event will be broadcast in many different online platforms”

Even Mexico City’s famed Día de Muertos parade is going virtual this year.

Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade is one of the country’s biggest tourism draws. Just last year the city had more than 2 million people at the parade. In addition, it’s a widely sponsored event by large companies such as Apple and Mattel. It brings in millions of dollars of revenue to the city.

Félix Díaz said that the possibilities of a virtual parade or “looking for these new trends such as drive-ins or a car tour are in talks. We are planning it.”

Cancun’s Xcaret park will be hosting an online festival to celebrate the holiday.

Although the sustainable park based outside Cancun has suspended all of its events and activities for 2020, in accordance with WHO recommendations, the park will host a virtual celebration for Día de Muertos.

Although the official date hasn’t yet been confirmed, the group says that they are excited to bring the event (now in its 14th year) to people around the world via an online celebration.

Events in the U.S. will also be taking place online – from California to New York.

One of the country’s largest Día de Muertos events, held in LA’s Grand Park will take place with 12 days of virtual celebrations. You’ll find arts workshops, digital ofrendas and storytelling online, as well as in-real-life art installations at the neighboring Downtown locations. Self-Help Graphics & Art—which hosts its own Day of the Dead event—has curated 11 large-scale altars for socially distant viewing, with audio tours available online.

Downey moves its annual Day of the Dead celebration from the city’s civic center to the internet with this virtual celebration. In the lead-up to the event you’ll be able to find recipes and crafting tutorials, and on the day of you can expect a mix of movies, music, ballet folklorico performances, shopping opportunities and a pair of art exhibitions.

And for those of us who can’t wait and/or want 24/7/365 access to Día de Muertos events, there’s always Google. The platform brings tons of Day of the Dead exhibits and information to users around the world through its Google Arts & Culture site, which you can view here.

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Nordstrom Has A New ‘Inclusive Beauty’ Category To Highlight Black-Owned Beauty Brands And It’s Where The Money Is At

Fierce

Nordstrom Has A New ‘Inclusive Beauty’ Category To Highlight Black-Owned Beauty Brands And It’s Where The Money Is At

Gallo Images / Contributor

If you’re looking to be more intentional about where you spend your cash, Nordstrom has just made your efforts to support Black-owned businesses easier.

The department store recently launched a new Inclusive Beauty online shopping category to highlight Black businesses. In a post to the site’s Inclusive Beauty landing page, Nordstrom encouraged users to “Check out these need-to-know Black-founded beauty brands that we’re proud to have in the Nordstrom family.” The new category includes beloved lines like  Brioge, Epara and Beauty Bakerie!

Even better, the Inclusive Beauty section features a wide range of makeup shades to suit all complexions as well as hair products like silk pillowcases, and hairpieces.

Check out some of the featured Black-owned Beauty brands below!

Bomba Curls Dominican Forbidden Hair Mask

$28NordstromSHOP NOW

Briogeo Repair Rituals Hair Care Set

Briogeo

$20NordstromSHOP NOW

Baby Tress 3-in-1 Edge Styler™ Tool Blush

Baby Tress

$15NordstromSHOP NOW

Epara Hydrating Mist

$56NordstromSHOP NOW

Beauty Bakerie Black Blending Egg Makeup Sponge Set

Beauty Bakerie

$18NordstromSHOP NOW

BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector Cream

$65NordstromSHOP NOW

Mantl Face + Scalp Invisible Daily SPF 30 Broad Spectrum

Mantil

$27NordstromSHOP NOW

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