Latina teens have just topped the worst kind of chart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a study on high-risk behavior in youths and found that 15 percent of Latina adolescents in the U.S. have attempted suicide. That’s compared to 9.8 percent and 10.2 percent for white and black female teens, respectively. More than a quarter of Latina teens contemplated suicide. The struggle is officially real. But part of the problem might also be that no one is talking about it.
While it’s hard to say exactly why the struggle exists, researchers think it has something to do with being caught between two cultures, lack of communication and craving independence. Apparently, 14 to 15 is the peak age for suicide attempts among Latinas. That’s the age when most want to come into their own – and it takes more than a quinceañera for that to happen.
“The want for independence rubs up against their parents, who often have more traditional values that they try to put on their children,” said Dr. Luis Zaya, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. Zaya’s research focus is on this very topic.
A lot of it comes down to Latinas bridging that vast cultural gap, “Can the child create their own bicultural identity?” Dr. Zaya asked.
States at highest risk for Latina teen suicide are those with the smallest Latino community. In 2015, some of the highest number of Latina suicide attempts happened in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine and Montana. Wyoming tops the list with 21.7 percent of Latinas attempting suicide last year. About 57,000 — or 10 percent — of Wyoming’s population is Latino, but that’s just 0.1 percent of all U.S. Latinos.
Writer Erika L. Sánchez has opened up about her own suicidal thoughts as a teenager. “I just wanted to be independent,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t this version of an ideal Mexican daughter that they expected.” She’s now 32 and one of the leading voices on this subject. Or, let’s be honest, one of the only voices.
When Sánchez was hospitalized at 15, her parents finally realized this wasn’t teenage girl melodrama, but genuine mental illness.
“Finally, they began to really see me,” says Sánchez. “And that’s when we began to have more honest conversations.”
Sánchez is fiercely honest about her depression in those days. Her first young adult novel “Brown Girl Problems”comes out next year, which confronts the theme of Latina teen depression. At least someone’s talking about it.
Social media can be a Gemini-like platform like no other. While all at once managing to tear us down, its the same platform that can lift us up and teach us how to love ourselves.
Still, one of the worst offenses social media has created has been perpetuating a false idea that all women look, or rather should look one way. But this is an idea that most of us know can’t be farther from the truth: each individual’s body is different, and our curves are shaped by genetics, habits, life experience and the inevitable passing of time. And all of are beautiful. There is nothing more empowering than a woman that knows who she is, who wears her wrinkles as a trophy and a sign of a life well lived.
Yet, we know, there is this expectation that we all should look like 20-something supermodels. But like America Ferrara discovered in one of her early roles, real women have curves! Yes, small, big, uneven curves. Luckily, along with the judgmental influencers who populate Instagram and other platforms, there is an increasing number of women who have joined the body positivity movement. Body positivity is loving oneself as the first and most important step towards acceptance and change. Body positivity doesn’t mean that you have to be complacent if you have health issues or you could improve your daily habits: it is about acknowledging who you are, knowing your body and therefore knowing what it needs. It is also about being sexy in our own skin, knowing that sensuality does not derive from stupid ideas around acceptable and unacceptable body types, but around attitude.
Here are some Latina women who have embraced the body positivity philosophy and have decided to share the wisdom.
Read, reflect and smile.
This queen who silenced haters and called for bravery
Credit: Instagram. @slendertanes
Enough is enough! Basta! We have lived long enough trying, or being forced to satisfy an unreal, and frankly stupid ideal, of what the female body should look like. To them, we say: calladito te ves más bonito. In short: shut up and don’t project your insecurities on our gorgeous curves.
This lady who showed us that our bodies can be beautiful landscapes
Credit: Instagram. @sus_y_drlecter
The caption for this amazing black and white caption is empowering and honest. “I want to steer away from what is beautiful and be myself. I am what I am without worrying about how others see me. This makes me very happy”. And we are happy with you, reina hermosa.
This mami that teaches her kid the value of self-love
Credit: Instagram. @kikilawyer10 via @goodbyeflaca
This Panamanian queen is showing her little boy the real value of appreciating and loving one’s body. We can’t stress this enough: we have to talk to our chiquitos about what their wonderful bodies are capable of, how to take care of them and how to face the unavoidable doubts that all of them will face during their teenage years (or even before then, as some studies have shown recently).
This superstar that strikes a pose and tells the world: “I am sure you like what you are seeing”
Credit: Instagram. @camychocolate
Her gaze just hypnotizes us. This is a woman who is sure of herself, that wears her curves with pride and who faces the world con una actitud chingona
This super flexible mujer de primera
Credit: Instagram. @transforma_coach
This woman knows that every body type can get fit, and fitness not always means estar flaca como un palo. The message is clear: “Self-love is important in the process of bettering our relationship with our eating habits”. If you love yourself, you will kick ass, hermana, plain and simple.
This future mom who slays pregnancy
Credit: Instagram. @neniyah
Pregnancy is one of the most transformative life events a woman can go through, not only emotionally but also physically. This post sends us a really clear message: cellulite is nothing, especially when a life is growing inside you. Awwwww. Ternura por todos lados.
This body positivity advocate who has a message for all of us: be proud of your scars
Credit: Instagram. @thebigbad.co
If you don’t already, you should follow this body positivity advocate who takes the best photoshoots and delivers empowering messages. La moraleja de hoy: let your scars be part of you, don’t hide them, they tell the story of who you are and where you’ve been.
This muchacha who found inspiration in Dumplin’
Credit: Instagram. @flo.madera
Among their original productions, Netflix really le dio al clavo with Dumpling, a movie about body positivity in the world of beauty pageants. We love this quote from the movie, user Flo Madera made it her own. Yes, queen!
This amazing battle cry
Credit: Instagram. @nutricion_001
We love this illustration by @deditodesalchicha. It says: “No one should be at war with their own body”. Need we say more? If you have been at war with your cuerpecito, just stop, it makes no good.
This woman who celebrated her dignified muffin tops!
Credit: Instagram. @ara_mcallister
This photo tells the story of this woman, who met an old lady that told her she was very skinny when she was 7-years-old and commented on how “fat” she is now. Her F-U is well deserved.
This Dominicana who reminded us our bodies are amazing and do wonderful things
Credit: Instagram. @liztaveras_oficial
We often forget that by simply keeping us alive out bodies are already doing wonderful things. Come to think about it, our bodies are well-oiled machines that put thousands of chemical processes in motion and keep a balance that makes us who we are. That is nothing short of miraculous. “Love your body not because of how you look, but because what it is capable of doing”, is this wonderful woman’s motto.
And she serves us some more body positivity wisdom!
Credit: Instagram. @liztaveras_oficial
She says: “Do not change so you can fit fashion, make fashion fit YOU”. Easier said than done, but we promise we will try, querida.
This awesome young woman who decided to give the finger to society. Good on her!
Credit: Instagram. @dian_261
Body positivity sometimes comes with a bit of rage. After all, it is society’s unspoken rules that lead women (as well as men and non-binary individuals) to feel inadequate in their own skin. This woman’s declaration of independence is awesome: “I started feeling free when I realized that I would never fit the cookie cutter mold that society had reserved for me”. En otras palabras, everyone please mind your own business.
This woman who acknowledges that the body changes and we need to feel at home in it
Credit: Instagram. @alejandrared
Alejandra knows, like many of us, that bodily changes can be terrifying. She takes this at face value and then gives us a pearl of wisdom: bodies change because they want to protect us. We need to be grateful, love our bodies like a comforting, cozy home
And this beautiful illustration by @Pattysupercool
Credit: Instagram. @divinamujer_catalinapaz
We just want to shed a happy tear looking at this cute illustration. The motto: “You look so gorgeous since you love yourself”. And that is what body positivity is all about, amarte siempre y sin pretextos.
At 12, Blanca Ramirez broke a global marathon record. At 16, she’s running to top her only competition: herself.
In 2015, The La Puenta, Calif.-based teen became the youngest female runner to complete seven marathons in seven different continents, running in Rwanda, New Zealand, Paraguay, China, France and Antarctica.
Her interest in international marathons started when she was 10 years old. She had just completed a long-distance running race in Disneyland and was hungry for more. She told her dad she wanted to beat the world record, but he thought she was joking at first.
“It seemed like it was something impossible,” her father Dimas Ramirez told NBC News. “I told her to prove to me she could run a marathon. She ran a 5K, then a 10K and-a-half marathon and then I let her do the Los Angeles Marathon.”
After proving to her dad that she’s fully capable of running around the world, and beating records while she’s at it, the Mexican-American teen is doing it once more — this time with the accompaniment of her younger brother.
Jordan, 9, completed his first marathon in Australia at age 8. He then ran in Egypt, crossed Europe off his list when he did 26.2 miles in London and then took to Thailand. Now, he and his big sis are headed to Antarctica and then South America. He plans to finish off in the US next April.
For Blanca, who has already accomplished the task her brother faces, joining him has been a way to show support and have some fun competition.
“At the end, we try to have a competition of who can cross the finish line first, even though we’re standing next to each other,” she told KTLA 5. “So we can be still next to each other, but I’ll make sure my foot passes it first.”
As for their dad, he’s proud of both of his children meeting their goals — but he’s also looking forward to it for reasons of his own.
“Dad’s very exhausted and I need a break,” he said. “Or they need to pick another sport.”
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