Although there are so many that have stimulated me in different ways, these Latinx icons are the top ones on my list.
Latin women are usually typecast to be the maids, nannies, cooks, mothers or the fiery, objectified role in movies.
But they are women--intellectuals, artists, scholars and activists. They are the ones who pave the way for their children and grandchildren to have a better life. They are the ones who inspire. Although there are so many that have stimulated me in different ways, these are the top ones on my list.
Kahlo is not seen as a traditional feminist icon to many due to her controversial individuality as an artist, but if you pay close attention to her work, she embodies the key pillar of the movement—being herself. From a young age, she was always against the grain and didn’t follow societal rules. Her viewpoints were in opposition to patriarchal rules of fashion, manners, morals, and gender roles, therefore what about that doesn’t scream feminist? Kahlo did indeed marry a misogynist, but we all saw the pain she went through through her surrealist art expression. For that reason, we should take it as a lesson to only allow those who treat us with the highest respect, love and kindness into our lives.
Idar started off her career as a schoolteacher. After leaving that position, she became a journalist at her father’s newspaper, La Cronica, where she wrote about the Mexican Revolution and the poverty of Mexican-American workers. Later on, she formed the Mexican Feminist League, in which she was president as well. Idar is credited for forming the first feminist part in Mexican history--G.O.A.T! Her organization exposed issues regarding civil rights, bilingual education, the lynchings of Mexicans, labor organizing and women’s rights. She was an advocate for Mexicans as a whole but she held the wellbeing of women and children near to her heart. Jovita yearned for the betterment of education in order for Mexican men and Americans to not take advantage of them; she went on to create a free kindergarten center as well as work as a translator at a hospital.
“Women [should] see all of [our] possibilities in life, to know that we don’t have to live in ominous spinsterhood, a pressured marriage, or mortal solitude.” Castellanos was a poet and a writer; her focus was on politics and the difficulties of being a Mexican woman. She even wrote her thesis for her master’s on Sobre Cultura Femenina, the women’s movement, and is now a literary figure for many feminist scholars. Rosario incorporated women's images, bodies, voices and texts to feminize her dialogue and create a variety of new messages about the women of Mexico. She describes this process in The Eternal Feminine: "...it's not good enough to imitate the models proposed for us that are answers to circumstances other than our own. It isn't even enough to discover who we are. We have to invent ourselves." Rosario enlightened us all with her literature which helped pave the way for many Latina feminist writers.
As an Afro-Latina, it was a given that the Queen of Salsa would be on this list! Cruz broke many racial boundaries and rose to be the La Reina de la Salsa, but she also contributed to the intersectional feminist movement by celebrating Afro-Latina beauty in Latin America, where you see light, fair skin, thin bodies, and straight hair (pelo bueno) as the epitome of beauty. You can see her praising all Afro-Latinas in her smashing hit, “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” and making it a body-positivity moment.
Huerta is the true MVP. Known because of her title as co-founder and leader of the United Farm Workers, Huerta's success is also thanks to getting the Immigration Act of 1985 ratified, and most recently, movement in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. Huerta has been given 73 honorary doctorates and a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her activist work. But it wasn’t easy; Huerta has been arrested 27 times lobbying for immigrants and farm workers. She is now president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and was recognized by Hollywood in the film Cesar Chavez, where Rosario Dawson plays the amazing Latin woman.
Oh, but of course, Selena, La Reina de La Cumbia. She's the iconic performer who had every young Latinx girl singing her songs in the mirror. Selena helped other Mexican women believe anything is possible; she broke barriers from the Tejano music industry to crossover stardom in the pop industry. To this day there hasn’t been another Latin female performing artist that has touched the lives of so many the way she did in such a short amount of time. #SelenaVive
Zoe is another Afro-Latina that inspires me and so many others because of her truly unapologetic personality and feminism. Her husband even took her last name (ugh, goals). She has addressed gender roles publicly and continues to speak on discriminations in the film industry, body image and society's gender gap.
Proud Latinas, who has inspired you?