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Latino USA Asks Whether Quinceañeras Can Be A ‘Radical Expression Of Brown Girl Self-Love’

While every culture has its own coming-of-age ritual, quinceañeras are quintessentially Latinx, with various Latin American countries holding on to their own distinct (and sometimes very sparkly) take on the festivities. Because it’s such a rich topic, Latino USA has devoted an entire episode to quinceañeras, and poses an interesting question about this coming-of-age party: “Is it a more radical expression of brown girl self-love than we give it credit for?”

Here’s a little teaser of what you can expect:

Credit: YouTube / Latino USA

In the episode, producer Antonia Cereijido follows Hailey Alexis and her family as they prepare for her party:

We go to the LA fashion district to buy the perfect dress, hear from family friends who are struggling to decide whether to give their own daughter a quinceañera, and hear from the self-proclaimed quince lord whose videos blow up on Instagram. In the process we hear about how the quinceañera is seen as a status symbol, a form of female empowerment, a statement about Latinx identity and also just a really fun party.

With so much discussion and dissenting opinions on whether quinceañeras are outdated relics of another or time or a meaningful cultural practice, wastes of money or an empowering coming-of-age event, it’s definitely worth diving into what they represent not only for Latinx culture as a whole, but for the individual teen girls at the center of the festivities.

Latino USA’s quinceañera episode premieres Friday, September 16 on NPR.

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Vanessa Bryant Wishes Gianna Happy Birthday On What Would Have Been Her Late Daughter’s 15th Birthday

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant Wishes Gianna Happy Birthday On What Would Have Been Her Late Daughter’s 15th Birthday

Photo via vanessabryant/Instagram

The grieving process continues for Vanessa Bryant on her daughter, Gianna’s, birthday. If you have lost a loved one, you know that milestones like anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays can be especially hard. Days that would’ve been joyful in the past become bittersweet at best, and unbearable at worst.

On Friday, Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram to pay tribute to her late daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, who passed away last January in a tragic helicopter accident.

Vanessa Bryant posted a throwback photo of her and Gigi from years ago. A young Gigi sits in her mother’s lap. Vanessa’s arms are wrapped around her young daughter.

Vanessa Bryant’s birthday tribute to Gigi was short and sweet: “Dear Gianna, Happy 15th Birthday! [heart emoji] [kiss emoji] I love you! I miss you everyday! I wish you were here with us. There are no words to express how much I miss you. I love you Mamacita!”

Then, Vanessa Bryant tagged the birthday post #Quincenera, #Principessa and #Mambacita. As you may know, Gianna Bryant was dubbed “mambacita” because she loved basketball just as much as her father, the Black Mamba himself.

Just last month, Vanessa Bryant also celebrated what would have been her 20th anniversary with her late husband, Kobe Bryant.

On April 18th, Vanessa Bryant posted a beautiful photo of her and Kobe on their wedding day. “Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you. 20 years,” she wrote.

By publicly acknowledging Gigi Bryant’s 15th birthday even though she’s no longer here, Vanessa Bryant is doing exactly what grief counselors suggest. “Don’t ever feel you have to apologize for grieving. It’s what you need to do, even if it makes others uncomfortable, and you’re apology is unnecessary,” says renowned grief counselor Dr. Ken Druck.

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A Group of Volunteer ‘Fairy Godmothers’ Threw a Lavish Quinceañera For This Homeless Teen Girl

Things That Matter

A Group of Volunteer ‘Fairy Godmothers’ Threw a Lavish Quinceañera For This Homeless Teen Girl

Photo via Getty Images

For most Latinas, having a quinceañera is a right-of-passage. Your quinceañera is the official milestone that proves you’re finally a woman. It’s a party that you look forward to your entire childhood. It’s that one time in your life that you, and only you, get to feel like a princess.

Unfortunately, not every girl has the luxury of having a quinceañera. Some girls’ families don’t have the finances to throw a huge party.

In Miami, a group of “fairy godmothers” organized a quinceañera for a homeless teen girl whose family recently emigrated from Mexico.

The girl, Adriana Palma, had moved with her family from Mexico to Miami in early 2020. But because of the pandemic, her father lost his job. Adriana, her parents, and her three younger brothers spent the next four months living in their SUV.

Relocating to another country is hard enough, but Adriana faced another challenge by being homeless, struggling to learn English, and chasing down random Wi-Fi signals in order to complete her homework assignments. It was a struggle, to say the least.

And to make matters worse, Adriana’s fifteenth birthday was coming up. Adrian’s parents told her that, since they were homeless, they wouldn’t be able to throw her a quinceañera. “We will be together as a family,” her mother, Itzel Palma, told her. “That will be my gift to you.”

Luckily, the Palma family had a group of guardian angels watching out for them. Being homeless wouldn’t prevent Adriana from having a quinceañera.

A charity called Miami Rescue Mission had already hooked up the Palmas with a small apartment for the family to get back on their feet. “Cover Girls”, a subgroup of the Miami Rescue Mission, dedicate their time to help women and children who are in tough circumstances.

When Lian Navarro, leader of the Cover Girls, found out about Adriana’s situation, she knew she had to help. Cuban-Amercian herself, Navarro knew how important quinceañeras are to young Latinas. She called up her group of volunteers and they got to work making Adriana’s dream come true.

The 60 “fairy godmothers” decided to throw Adriana the quinceañera of her dreams in a local Miami church. They settled on a theme: Paris.

The volunteers decorated the bare church in gold Eiffel towers, supplied pink macarons and French pastries, they topped off each table with a floral centerpiece. They gifted Adriana with every item on her wish list. Not to mention, Adriana was able to be dressed up in a frilly pink quinceañera dress. Her hair and makeup were professionally done. A professional photographer captured her special day.

“We want them to have these memories,” said Cover Girl volunteer, Tadia Silva, about children and teens who grow up homeless. “They have to believe they are worth all that because they are.”

After her beautiful quinceañera, Adriana appeared to know her true worth. At the end of the party, she gave her “fairy godmothers” personalized notes of thanks. “I felt like a princess,” she said.

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