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Traditional Latina Beauty Trends That Have Gone Mainstream And Been Appropriated

If there’s anything that the debate over cultural appropriation has taught us in the past few years, it’s that oftentimes the mainstream likes to pick and choose what they deem “cool” from a culture they’ve traditionally shunned and claim ownership of it. One could argue that this phenomenon has disproportionately affected Latina beauty trends.

Sure, some of these beauty trends don’t exclusively “belong” to Latinx cultures, but others were born and raised in Latinx countries. So, without further ado, let’s run down the list of traditionally Latina beauty trends that have gone mainstream (whether we like it or not).

1. Baby Hairs

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Although there have been countless articles and think-pieces bemoaning the appropriation of baby hairs, it’s worth repeating here. It’s frustrating that something that has been so traditionally maligned by white America has suddenly shown up on every runway and editorial magazine spread. Although we’re loving this trend because it celebrates something that has been so much a part of Latinx beauty cultures for decades, we can’t help but feel annoyed as well. We guess this trend just needed a Vogue stamp of approval to know what we’ve known all along: slicked down baby hairs are fierce AF.

2. Over-lined Lips

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We put this one squarely on the shoulders of Kylie Jenner. Latinas have been overlining their lips decades before Jenner swooped in. Believe us when we say she didn’t discover MAC’s “Spice” lipliner. We have explicit memories of our mothers applying lip liner in front of the mirror with care before a big night. Like many other Latina beauty trends, there seems to be a general consensus that bigger is better. Which brings us to…

3. Killer Curves

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Look, Latinas didn’t invent big booties. And not all Latinas have the same body shape! But it’s worth noting that traditionally, Latinx folks have celebrated a curvaceous figure instead of viewing it as undesirable. As Jennifer Lopez, the Booty Queen herself, once said: “My generation was very much focused on size 0 models…My mom and my grandmother were the ones who drilled into me, ‘This is how we are, and this is what’s beautiful’…Everybody I grew up with [had bodies like mine], and they were all beautiful to me”. Preach Jen! We’re right there with you.

4. Bold Brows

Credit: @caradelevingne/Instagram. @friduchita_kahlo/Instagram.

It took the advent of Cara Delevigne for the mainstream to finally recognize unruly eyebrows as the thing of beauty that they truly are. The problem is, they’ve always been beautiful to us. One could argue that the most famous pair of eyebrow(s) in history belonged to a Latina. We’re talking about Frida Kahlo, of course. Frida purposefully kept her unibrow intact as a silent protest to anglo-centric beauty standards that she considered oppressive to the Latina body. In addition to that, It’s also worth mentioning that most Latinas haven’t met an eyebrow pencil they didn’t like. There’s power in the brows, ladies.

5. Bold Red Lips

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Okay, okay. This is one of those beauty “secrets” that is claiming it belongs to Latinas is a little controversial. However, there is some merit to the argument. As a very eloquent Refinery 29 article pointed out, Latinas’ relationship to red lipstick spans from Frida Kahlo to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Latinas have used red on their lips to emphasize their confidence, their femininity and their presence in general. As Dominican-American author Junot Díaz once eloquently wrote: “She’s applying her lipstick; I’ve always believed that the universe invented the color red solely for Latinas”. 

6. Bronzed, Glowy Skin

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Let’s be real: long before the #highlightonfleek movement, it was none other than the Latina Icon herself, Jennifer Lopez, who knew how to light up the room with her skin. But Jennifer Lopez isn’t the only one who has been committed to keeping it golden. Latin culture has always valued a sun-kissed look–especially the Latinx communities based in hot, humid places like Miami, Puerto Rico, and The Dominican Republic. Having a healthy glow means you’ve been on the beach, basking in the sun, which is how many Latinas spent their childhood.

Read: 20 Latina Makeup YouTubers Representing Brown Girl Beauty

7. Hoop Earrings

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Latinas have been rocking hoop earrings long before this current wave of hoop-mania swept Instagram. Therefore, it’s slightly irksome that something that was labeled as too “ghetto” or “chola” before is now classified as red-carpet worthy. Like many writers have stated before, it’s not that non-Latinx people aren’t allowed to wear hoop earrings, it’s just that it’s wrong to give the white celebrities credit for a trend that Latinas have been doing for decades. It’s simply another example of how white America admires exoticism as long as it’s not too “other”.

Read: These 20 Latinas Went From Beauty Fans To Makeup Moguls

8. Beauty Marks

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Beauty marks have a long history as an aesthetic trend (just look at old portraits in any art museum). But in recent memory, it’s worth noting that beauty marks have been predominantly acknowledged as beautiful in Latinx cultures. There’s a reason the stereotypical “Chola look” conjures up images of girls with arched eyebrows and a beauty mark painted above their lips. Yes, people from all over the world can be born with cute birthmarks, but it’s inaccurate to give all the credit for their popularity to Cindy Crawford. Latinas have celebrated and emphasized their beauty marks for generations!

Read: 21 Beauty Products Our Latina Moms Forced On Us In The ’90s

9. Long Acrylic Nails

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Long acrylic nails really blew up in 2017 when Kylie Jenner began Instagramming her manicures. From that point forward, long acrylics officially hit the mainstream and were dubbed “Kylie Jenner’s Long Nail Trend”. This is frustrating because, for decades, Latinas’ love of long acrylics has been the butt of joke after joke. Not to mention, before the Kylie Jenner made them “cool”, the mainstream consensus was that they were “tacky” or “ghetto”. This just further reiterates the idea that Latinas’ beauty trends are often only accepted by the mainstream when a white celebrity promotes it.

Read: 25 Reasons Why Hialeah Should Be The Nail Acrylic Art Capital Of The World

10. Día de Los Muertos Makeup

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Unsurprisingly, this “beauty trend” falls squarely under the “appropriation” category. It only takes a quick Pinterest search to discover the hundreds of non-Latinx bloggers and aspiring fashionistas who make up their faces in imitation of the traditional Dia de Los Muertos calaveras face painting. It’s understandable that the costumes and the makeup are beautiful–breathtaking, even. But what many non-Latinx people fail to realize is that for many Latinxs, Dia de Los Muertos is a spiritual, personal tradition that shouldn’t be used for views of their blog-posts.

11. Bandanna Headband

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The bandanna headband is a hallmark of Chicana style in the Western states and started as a way for Latinas to reclaim for themselves what was often viewed as a negative image. It coincided with the Chicano Movement of the 1960s when people of largely Mexican descent in the Southwest US decided to demand equality from the government. Although the trend started among manual workers as, obviously, a means to keep the hair out of their face, it evolved into a proud fashion statement that Latinas chose to make–a reclaiming of the roots they had, up until then, been told they should be ashamed of. It’s not become a hallmark of the “Urban Chic” fashion aesthetic.

Read: 30 Ways I’ve Changed My Hair By Age 30 — And What I Learned

12. Long Flowing Hair

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For the most part, hairstyle trends are cyclical. For example, short bobs were all the rage in the 1920s while bouffant-like beehives were popular in the ‘50s. But now we’re in an era where long flowing hair with a loose wave is in. Obviously, not all Latinas look alike nor have the same skin color, facial features, or hair across Latinx countries. But whether we like it or not, most Latinx cultures have traditionally held up long, flowing hair as a standard of beauty. At this moment in time, this beauty trend that was standard in Latinx communities is officially mainstream.

Read: 21 Hairstyles J.Lo Has Rocked Since The ’90s

13. Brown Lipstick

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that in the 90s, Latinas were about that brown lipstick. Don’t believe us? Google your favorite Latina celeb + “90s” and you’ll probably find a plethora of photos of Latina celebrities on Google images who used to use the plummy-dark lipstick as their favorite shade. Unlike some beauty “trends” (ahem, Dia de Los Muertos), this one was not born and raised in the Latinx community, but it definitely took it by storm. Now, Insta-celebs like Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner have pushed it mainstream again. And we don’t even have to go to Sephora to restock! All it takes is a trip to mom’s old makeup bag.

Read: 21 Lipsticks Made By Latinas For Latinxs

14. Puebla Dresses

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Embroidered Puebla Dresses have roots all the way back to 19th century Mexico. Needless to say, this beautiful piece of clothing has remained a staple for any Mexican woman who likes to celebrate her culture. That’s why we were surprised when we saw a version of it show up on the runways of Alberta Ferretti. It’s always interesting when a fashion designer recognizes the beauty of Latinx culture and re-interprets it with a high-fashion twist.

15. Brazilian Blowouts

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Named after the country where it originated, Brazilian Blowouts are a hair treatment that smooths frizz and tames fly-aways by bonding keratin to the hair’s cuticle. Usually called the escova progressiva (progressive blowout) in Brazil, Brazilians loved it because many of them are mestiças (mixed-race people) with hair that ranges the spectrum from kinky-coily to poker straight. Around 2007, Brazilian Blowout-mania hit the US and it’s been mainstream ever since. We guess it was a secret to groundbreaking to stay quiet.

Read: We Dug Around To Find Out What High Coverage Makeup Celebrities Wear To Withstand The Heat

16. Frida’s Flower Crowns

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Along with her aforementioned unibrow, society remembers Frida Kahlo for always wearing a colorful flower crown. Due to Frida’s rise to mainstream popularity, this flower crown has become the accessory du jour for the hipster-chic Urban Outfitters crowd. Usually accompanied by her signature braided up-do and middle part, this look is popular because it signals that it’s wearer is aware of how awesome Frida was. Which is great, because she was. But let’s not forget that Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have been celebrating her memory with this same accessory years before it hit the mainstream.

Read: 20 Designs For Your Baby Hairs That’ll Look Even Better Than When Momma Did It

17. Cross Jewelry

Credit: @selenagomez/Instagram. @taylor_hill/Instagram.

We’ve come a long way since that infamous Sex and the City episode where Carrie Bradshaw called gold jewelry “ghetto” and that she would only wear it as costume jewelry. Now, celebs are commonly decked out on the red carpet with gold cros earrings, necklaces, and their bracelets–and this trend is being labeled as “new”. In 2016, fashion outlets were labeling it as the latest “cool girl” jewelry trend. But we know better. Latinas have been wearing crosses for decades to celebrate their heritage as well as their relationship to spirituality.

Read: 20 Fruity And Flowery Summer Manicure Looks To Add To Your To-Rock List

18. Chola Style

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We understand why the traditional “Chola Style” of baggy pants, dark lined lips, and buttoned-up plaid shirts has swept runways recently. It’s simple: because it’s cool. The origins of the Chola aesthetic originate in working-class Chicanas circles in the South-Western US. Chicanas created their own style to reject white culture. They utilized hand-me-down menswear and an exaggerated makeup look to blend tough and feminine styles together. Also optional: big gold jewelry, a bandanna as a headband, and a wife-beater tank top. Before Hollywood appropriated the look, the Chola style symbolized femininity, toughness, non-conformity and the history of struggle in the Chicana community.

Read: 21 Things We’ve Learned About Camila Cabello’s “Havana” Makeup Line Since It Dropped

19. The Cat-Eye

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Latinas have always been queens of painting their eyes up with a sultry, cat-like flick at the end that many have seen as “exotic”. There’s a reason why many classic Hollywood movies that depicted Latinas depicted them in bright red, with plump lips and a winged cat eye–it was a look that was coded as “Latin Lover”. But maybe it wasn’t so much “exotic” as it was Latina women choosing not to assimilate to the more mellowed-down makeup preferred by mainstream America. Now, of course, there isn’t a pop star on the red carpet that doesn’t rock the Cat-Eye look.

20. Bejeweled Bustier

Credit: @encantaselena/Instagram. @suam/Instagram.

One of Selena Quintanilla’s signature looks, who doesn’t remember that scene in Selena when Jennifer Lopez puts one on for the first time, much to the dismay of her father? Flash-forward to the mid-2000s, Selena’s jeweled bustier has seen iterations on everyone from Katy Perry to Taylor Swift. It’s the ultimate pop star costume: sexy, glittery, and just as revealing as you want it to be. Let’s not forget to attribute the trend to the woman that started it all, though: Selena Quintanilla.


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In A World Where Everything Is Catered To White People, Selena Quintanilla Has Long Been The Splash Of Color My Latina Soul Needed

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In A World Where Everything Is Catered To White People, Selena Quintanilla Has Long Been The Splash Of Color My Latina Soul Needed

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Long before shops the likes of Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 began to bank on her image to sell $54 shirts to non-Latinx hipsters, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was an icon and legend for young Latinas living across the globe. Ask a Latina and no doubt she has some sort of connection the Tejano singer whether its coordinating sons to “Baila Esta Cumbia” with her primas or playing her VHS biopic on repeat until the tape ran thin. The queen of Latinx music will always be an influential personality in Latino culture in the United States. Her music and the tragic circumstances of her death made her a pop culture phenomenon that escaped the niche Hispanic market. After her death, Hollywood studios furiously vied for the rights to adapt her incredible rags-to-riches story to the big screen. Selena is a fundamental Latino icon even 23 years after her death in 1995, at the tender age of 23.

Next time someone asks you at a party why you tear up listening to the late great Selena, be sure to serve them with these facts:

1. She brought Tejano music to mainstream America and proved women are capable of anything.

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Before Selena Mexican-American music was considered an eccentricity and was definitely not played in non-Hispanic clubs and radio stations.  Speaking about the experience of being a Latinx signer, Selena 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 or presentations because there are a lot of men who don’t think that women can get the attention of the public. But . . . wrong!” No doubt the Texas-born singer changed these harsh attitude during her life and after her untimely death.

2. She valued family

Selena might have gained worldwide notoriety in her own right, but long before she was just Selena she had a career as part of the Quintanilla family group Selena y Los Dinos, where her two older siblings also made pompas shake. Like the rest of us, familia was always important to Selena and she never forgot her origins and the role that her family had in her success. Speaking about the struggles she was grateful for enduring with her family, Selena said “We went through a hard time, and we had to turn to music as a means to putting food on the table. And we’ve been doing it ever since. No regrets either.”

3. She was proud of her heritage

Singing in Spanish when you’re not fluent can be a pretty challenging act in itself if you want to break into the mainstream, and Selena was unapologetic about her efforts to do so. “I feel very proud to be Mexican,” Selena once said in an interview about her culture. “I didn’t have the opportunity to learn Spanish when I was a girl, but . . . it’s never too late to get in touch with your roots.” Many singers and actors of Latino origin change their names for a more English-sounding or a more neutral one. But not our Selena. She didn’t look for a fancy name and good on her: Selena is such a powerful, defining name that shines on any billboard.

4. She knew that not all women are straight-sized and many have curves

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, but it has long been dictated by mass media which has, in so many cases, severely distorted our perceptions of women’s bodies. Selena was proud of her curves. Eso mija, eres una fregona.  “I’m very real, very sincere, and honest, and that’s how I’ll always be,” the star once said in an interview. 

5. She had a unique style

Amidst the customary images and selling points of whitewashed media and the current political turmoils of today, it can be hard for a Latina to feel confident in her identity. Selena did so with aplomb. Her wardrobe choices were interesting and daring in equal measure, which is probably one of the reasons behind her success as a pop culture brand.  She was criticized by more conservative audiences for “revealing too much”. We say al carajo con sus juicios.  Still, the Tejano singer stayed strong her opinions about her self, saying once, “Always believe that the impossible is always possible.”

6. Because she showed that Latinas can be captains of their fate as well as the fiercest activists.

“What I don’t like are arrogant people. We’re all equal. I don’t like it when a person assumes to be better,” Quintanilla once stated in an interview.  Her posthumous campaign with cosmetics giant MAC demonstrated that Latino women in particular and women of color, in general, could and should carry campaigns. She was beautiful and the world needed to see that.

7. She was active in her community “All I need to do is try and do the best that I can do”

As a minority, solidarity is key for the Latino community in the United States, particularly today. Selena embodied community values and never forgot her fellow Mexican-Americans. Certainly an example we should all follow. She grew up in Texas, where migratory patterns and backwards thinking about race make various segments of the Hispanic population feel vulnerable. Power to the people!

8. She urged children to stay en la escuela (don’t drop out, escuincles!)

“Music is not a very stable business. You know it comes and it goes, and so does money. But your education stays with you for the rest of your life.” Selena knew how important education is for minorities in the United States, and that hard work and academic development are the only way for the community to strive. She constantly visited schools and urged young chamacos not to drop out. Respect.

9. Because she was an independent self-made woman “If you have a dream, don’t let anybody take it away”

She was young but life taught her that all you have is yourself. We can’t believe she was just 23 when she died. Truly wise beyond her years.

Read: Mariah Carey Got Real About Being Biracial And Her Words Will Undoubtedly Have Afro-Latinas Feeling So Seen

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Puerto Rican Model With Down Syndrome Stuns At New York Fashion Week

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Puerto Rican Model With Down Syndrome Stuns At New York Fashion Week

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The world of fashion is notoriously a parade of homogeneity. While certain brands make valiant attempts to diversify the faces and designs that represent their lines, it’s true that there is a world of progress to be made. Which leads us to our praise and worship for Sofía Jirau.

Sofia Jirau is a 22-year-old Puerto Rican model with Down Syndrome.

She is, to say the least, a true jefa whose recent appearance on the runway at a New York Fashion Week show is undoubtedly a game-changer. While walking the runway this past week, the model lived out her dream of not only modeling in New York but also shaking up its fashion scene.

“When I was little, I looked myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,’” Jirau told People in a recent interview.

And just look at her now.

Jirau got her start back in 2019 when she signed with INprende, an agency that works to represent models and faces like Sofia. Since making her deal, Jirau has gone on to model for designers like Kelvin Giovannie and Marisa Santiago. 
“I was born for this and I want to show the world that I have everything a model needs to shine,” Jirau wrote in a post about her NYFW debut on Instagram.

Here’s to hoping for more of this!