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?”
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With so much discussion and dissenting opinions on whether quinceañeras are outdated relics of another or time or a meaningful cultural practice, wastes of money or an empowering coming-of-age event, it’s definitely worth diving into what they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.
Few days are as important or as celebrated as a teenager’s 15th birthday. So imagine the level of selflessness one must have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want any of the celebration, I rather help out my community.’
Well, one teen in Merida, Mexico did just that this week when she told her family ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to her big quince and instead used the money that had been raised for her special day to help out her neighbors who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Her party was canceled thanks to Coronavirus, so she decided to help out those less fortunate.
In many countries across Latin America, the quinceañera is a huge milestone for teenagers. Beautiful dresses, visits from the entire family, big parties, and the best gifts are the norm at most quinces. But for 15-year-old Jiromy Xool Pech, instead of spending money on a lavish birthday celebration, she opted to use her party funds to help feed the needy.
Jiromy and her family had long planned her quinceañera – she had been looking forward to it for years. But with the pandemic hitting her community in Mérida particularly hard, the teen decided to put the party aside and use everything that had been invested in the ceremony to help her neighbors who have been impacted by the pandemic.
“Instead of partying, I prefer to give food to people, to help them with that,” Jiromy told El Universal. Jiromy not only asked to donate the money for her quince to the community, but she was also out there helping distribute the food to her neighbors.
Jiromy and her family weren’t alone in helping out the community either. Much of the food that was given out was prepared from by neighbors and local businesses that came to join Jiromy’s cause once word began to spread.
Unfortunately, many quinceañeras have been canceled or postponed thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.
One of Mexico City’s most famous markets for buying quince dresses – el Mercado Lagunilla – has been closed for three months. This ins’t just hating a major impact on dressmakers and salespeople, but it also means that young teens aren’t able to buy the dresses to celebrate their big day.
But not all is completely lost: there are those who have begun to return, like Ximena González, who came with her family to try on dresses. Her quince was scheduled for May 16, but the pandemic changed everything, and now they expect it to take place in November.
“I was scared and upset but I had to accept it. Some friends can no longer go because they are moving,” she told El Universal. She added, “I hope that when it is my party the infections have gone down and that everything is done as if nothing had happened.”
Mexico has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including Jiromy’s hometown of Merida.
Jiromy’s selfless act to help her community comes as Mexico continues to see record breaking numbers of cases. Tens of thousands are dying and even more are losing their jobs and being forced back into poverty.
As of August 6, Mexico has more than 456,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 49,698 people have died from the virus. In Jiromy’s state of Yucatan, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the virus and it’s had a huge impact on tourism, which is a major economic force in the state. Therefore, it makes sense that the 15-year-old thought it was important to use the money raised for her party to help those who are suffering financially.
Jenna Ortega is the freshest face to join the Neutrogena familia as a brand ambassador!
The 17-year-old You actress revealed the big news to her followers on Instagram on Tuesday morning.
“I love that I get to represent my generation who are actively using their voices to make a difference and hope to inspire others as we embrace what makes us unique and special. I’m elated! #NTGSpokesperson,” wrote the rising star who is joining the icons like Kerry Washington and Jennifer Garner in representing the brand.
During a video interview with FIERCE, Ortega shares what has her ecstatic about this new role, how Neutrogena remains a constant in her beauty bag, and her favorite señora hack that is the perfect pick-me-up.
When reflecting on her new partnership with the skincare brand as their new ambassador, Ortega can hardly believe the news. “It’s great! It’s something that I’ve dreamed about for a very long time, so I couldn’t be more thrilled,” she tells FIERCE.
But Ortega’s role as a Neutrogena brand ambassador comes with new details in her job description. This year, she and the brand are teaming up to introduce the My Quinceañera Journey sweepstakes where they’ll virtually surprise a lucky teen with a glam team for their big day.
“I turned 15 when I was on set, so I didn’t have the opportunity to get into all the prep or set a date,” recalls Ortega of her time filming Disney’s Stuck In The Middle. “Later in the show, my character turned 15 and she had her own quinceañera, so I kind of had to live vicariously through her,” she recalls.
However, if she had the opportunity to celebrate her quinceañera, Ortega has a clear vision of what her look would be.
“I would definitely have the big tulle skirt. I might do maybe like a red dress. And I like when my hair is down personally so I would probably have two dutch braids and hair curled,” she continues. “For makeup, just something that would tie in with the red dress I guess. So maybe like some red eyeshadow. My favorite color is red if you couldn’t tell,” she adds laughing.
Recognizing that the limitations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic might restrict other teens from celebrating their quinceañera this 2020, the Mexican-Puerto Rican-American actress will act as a madrina to a few lucky teens turning 15 this year.
“For all the kids who are experiencing 2020, who are turning 15 this year and also can’t have a quinceañera, I want to be able to be there for them and kind of help them out through this time and still make their day somewhat special and Neutrogena wants to do the same,” Ortega shares.
With the My Quinceañera Journey sweepstakes, teens have the opportunity to win an entire glam squad, a virtual meet and greet with Ortega, a virtual concert, skincare advice from a dermatologist and more. Basically, all the madrinas a quinceañera could ever hope for.
Ortega adds that she and Neutrogena want to ensure they do everything “to make their day extra special.”
As everyone is adjusting to a new lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ortega tells FIERCE that she has taken time during quarantine to focus on a more consistent skincare regimen, practice more self-care through yoga and “drink a lot more water.”
“I’ve had more time with myself so I’ve kind of developed a lot more of an actual routine whereas before it was kind of like I try to get this done but I don’t really have time,” Ortega adds. “But now I go in with my [Neutrogena] Oil-free Acne Wash or I use the Makeup Remover wipes then I use the Pink Grapefruit Cleansing Wipes, then I go in with the Hydro-boost Moisturizer for my skin and I’m comfortable with that.”
The actress, who also had a role in Jane The Virgin, reveals that Neutrogena is an Ortega household staple passed down from her older sisters and to now be the face of the brand is “a crazy feeling.”
“It’s something that I grew up watching my older sisters use and it’s something that I adapted into my own skincare routine. It’s something that I was introduced to and they’re the first products that I started using and the products that I still use to this day. So they’ve kind of been the number one skincare brand for me all my life.”
As a teen coming into her own and defining a self-care routine that works best for her, Ortega has uncovered a señora hack that many are sure to adopt if they haven’t already.
“I have emergency hoops!” she reveals.
“I always have multiple pairs of hoops in my bag no matter where I’m going, no matter how big or small the bag is, I will have at least three different pairs. I have a small set, (I’m wearing a small set now) and then I’ll have a large set, or a silver set, or I’ll have a gold set. Sometimes I’ll have bamboos. It doesn’t matter,” she adds. “I just need to know that they’re there because sometimes you know, you’re in such a rush to leave the house, you don’t know but hoops change everything.”
To enter Neutrogena’s My Quinceañera Journey sweepstakes click neutrogena.com/quinceanera. Entries are being accepted through August 4th.