Disclosure: Although this blog post is sponsored by Love Yourself Store, all opinions come from the bottom of my blogging heart. Si lees español puedes leer esta entrada aquí. ❤
When I was a little girl, the greater part of my Sundays were spent in a laundromat. It was my weekly torture session. Not only because of the fact that I wouldn’t be buying anything from the vending machines, despite having a pocket full of quarters, nor because of the heat radiating from the dryers, not even because I knew I’d be wasting a minimum of three hours of my life that I’d never get back. In reality, I think what bothered me the most was what the entire scene represented. It was emblematic of being an immigrant in the United States, being weird, being different. I was so afraid a classmate might see me through the windows and recognize me. I don’t even know why identifying myself generated such fear, but at that young age, I didn’t think it was possible to ever love my Hispanic heritage. At that time, the only thing I wanted was the unattainable… more than citizenship, I wanted acceptance.
I grew up with that self-imposed anxiety that would take years to cure. I remember as if it were yesterday, when, for my fifth grade class’ end of year party, my mom signed me up to take flan. You need to understand, my mother’s selling point was her homemade flan and it had the perfect texture (smooth, creamy, and bathed in caramel). Still, I wanted nothing to do with it. That morning, as she drove me to school, my mom explained how I was to carry the plate (which was ceramic and not disposable as I’d seen the other kids take to school). She explained the way I was supposed to serve it, and to make sure to use the spoon (again, silverware and not plastic) to pour the caramel over each piece. Of course, I’d never confess that my plan was to hide and hope that no one noticed. I was mortified.
I have no idea how it didn’t fall as I walked up the stairs. With trembling hands, I carried that flan drenched with caramel and fear. To my surprise, my teachers (who were American, of course) were eagerly waiting for it, they had never tasted homemade flan before. My classmates tried something new, and they loved it as much as I loved Jamaican patties, Haitian bread, and the all-American hot dog.
Now that I am a girl in her thirties, I admit how absurd my fears were. In fact, when the online store Love Yourself asked me to think of what I loved most about myself, being Latina was the first thing that came to my mind. I feel the need to clarify, in my philosophy of life there is no room to believe that any culture, ethnicity, or race is above another. There simply is no room for excessive pride. But there is room for love.
What do I love about myself? Well, it wasn’t easy, but I learned to love what it means to be an immigrant in this or any other country. That survival doesn’t come free or without hard work. I refined my personality with the heat of those dryers. And with every wash, I was cleaning out my insecurities. I’ve learned in the past 30 years, that when one has to work twice as hard to compensate for the differences, the results mean that much more. I learned to love these curves which make my existence difficult when trying on a skirt or attempting to cross the street in Miami. Above all, I learned that being an immigrant woman in this country is the definition of #slay; it means being gutsy, entrepreneurial, and hardworking. Being an immigrant woman in this country means that even when one is mired in sadness, melancholy, or depression the world keeps turning and therefore so do we. In other words, I learned that being Latina is not a disadvantage, but the advantage.
And that is exactly what I like about brands like Love Yourself (whose founder, by the way, is Latino), they inspire you to dig deep within yourself, to love, and to represent that which makes us unique. It seems naïve to think that a slogan written across a shirt can have the power to make us so introspective, but when weighed down by insecurities, those little things serve to make us think. Personally, for the first time in years, it made me return to a laundromat where felt myself again, the Latina immigrant with prominent curves.
Photography by: Cats Meow Photo