My love/hate relationship with Kylie Jenner

Love her or hate her, Kylie Jenner is a household name. Born into the Kardashian empire, the 18 year old has grown to become a social media success – stunting grills, cars and clothes on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. She’s recognized and envied for her plump pout, glamour girl lashes and ever-changing hair.

All that being said, I both hate and love the girl. Though my hate doesn’t run to the depth of leaving angry IG comments under her photos or wishing her ill will, I simply can’t stand the things she says and does. Why? She’s a teenager. As a “real adult” it is my duty to find teenagers to be very annoying and immature. But in all honestly, the world for Kylie at 18 is not the world I had at 18. I’m not just talking about all the extra zeros in her bank account but from the music to the fashion to the technology, a lot changed in just a handful of years. I’m simply no longer at an age where it would be appropriate for me to relate to a young girl who enjoys taking 10 second long selfie videos on Snapchat.

But for all the reasons King Kylie gives me “little sister who wants to tag along with me everywhere” vibes, I also feel a big sisterly protectiveness. Here is a teenage girl who has been sexualized for years and is subjected to the harsh critiques of all too nosy adults on the internet. When you grow up in the same household as three idolized sex symbols, it’s easy to understand why you would aspire to become the same. Sex sells and the Kardashian klan knows how to market it, but the reality is that Kylie is just a girl and her target market is the American teen girl. I find it incredibly disturbing when grown men (who wouldn’t have a chance even in their wildest dreams) sexualize Kylie in an attempt to demean her personhood. The same goes for grown women who leave the most embarassing hateful comments under tweets and photos. Why is it that our society loves to hate celebrities? How did we get to worshipping the status of celebrity so much so that adults feel entitled to degrading the lifestyle of a TEENAGER?

Now in their 30s, the Kardashian sisters seem to have transitioned their focus on being wives and MILFs and the young Jenner sisters have stepped into their big sisters’ shoes (Louboutins, no doubt) to become the new and improved IT girls of the 2010s.

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Femme Fatale: Alysia Harris

Alysia Harris is a writer and poet I first heard of about seven years ago. She’s an intellect that graduated from the Universityalysia of Pennsylvania, has a PhD from Yale and an MFA from NYU. She studied language, mainly the semantic change and aspectual shift in African American English. She is a two-time national spoken word champion, and has been a member of the winning BNV 2007 and CUSPI 2007 teams. She has over 2 million Youtube views. I watched her performance of “That Girl” years ago in the HBO documentary, Russel Simmons Presents: Brave New Voices. Since then I’ve kept up with her spoken word performances.

Her poems are incredibly raw and emotional. Her words are beautiful and strong, and she is not afraid of being vulnerable. She is a woman of God and uses poetry as a means of exploring emotional and spiritual realms. She’s traveled to different countries and sometimes incorporates her experiences into her spoken word. She wishes to move to North Africa one day and integrate creative writing programs. Alysia Harris is inspirational through her work. She is always honest and open. I think her words are very relateable to any woman, young or old, who has gone through a journey of self-discovery.

The first time I listened to her, listened to “That Girl”, I was going through a heartbreak and found comfort in her poem. She is constantly changing and that’s evident in her spoken word, but in a sense I felt as though I grew with her. Anyone who’s had low self-esteem understands how beautiful it is when you finally find your sense of self and feel comfortable in your own skin. This is what makes Alysia so admirable. She is just another woman who is trying to figure herself out but uses puts her own joy and pain out in front of others to inspire millions. A few months ago, a video was posted on Youtube of Alysia Harris performing a follow up poem to “That Girl” called “This Woman”. It was about how she has progressed and who she is now. The best part was the realization that I no longer relate to “That Girl” but to “This Woman”. All of her work is amazing and I highly encourage you check her out on YT if you’re looking to be inspired.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Single Ladies

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It’s February 14th and you’re trying to keep the bile down as you’re scrolling through dozens of pics on Instagram of flowers, balloons, and giant stuffed animals captioned “Lucky to have the BEST bae ever!!! <3” Now that you’ve rolled your eyes to the point of popping out, the feelings of forever alone-ness take over as you read your friends’ tweets about the breakfasts their boyfriends made them and the romantic dinners they’ll be off to tonight.

You are the single friend.

The third wheel. The one who gets set up with guys your friends think you’ll “really like”. The one who stays in on double date night.

And you’ve decided to spend your day lounging around, maybe order a pizza and watch a couple movies. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Okay, so you can hate the day that was created as a superficial means of selling candy and teddy bears but what’s the alternative? TREAT YO SELF, WOMAN!

Valentine’s Day is about love but it’s not just about romance. Love for your family, love for your friends, love for yourself. Celebrate it.

Doll up for you today. Make yourself your favorite meal or go out to your favorite place for lunch. Better yet, treat your mom to lunch. Text your friends and thank them for always being there and tell them you’re glad they’re with someone who loves them for the good people you know they are. Take a bath with a bath bomb and candles and the Tranquility With A Beat playlist on Spotify. Once you’re out of the tub, put on your best lingerie and take hot pics you’ll admire later because you’re an independent woman who don’t need no man. Then get dressed in something that makes you feel like you can conquer the world and then go conquer it. Go to a bar and act like you own the damn place, and you’ll have all the guys wanting to buy your drinks and eat out of the palm of your hand. Okay, maybe you won’t seduce them all. But there’s sure to be one or two.

And at the end of the night, go home with the hottest date. Yourself.

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Femme Fatale: Gloria Trevi

Gloria_TreviCAKIO9D4_t670The woman known as the Mexican Madonna, Gloria Trevi’s life has always been a real time novela. Before I knew any of this, she was the woman I’d watch on the telly with the wild hair, rock star voice, and crazy dance moves emanating from her body. This was what I saw of her as a kid and it was what attracted me to this Mexicana who seemed to be adored by the entire country despite her controversial ways. Her music was not only a source of entertainment but a means of sexual and political expression. She was always very outspoken about sex, government, and women’s rights. As adored as she was, she also faced a lot of criticism and anger. Gloria knew how to get people’s panties in a bunch over her liberal lyrics.

Gloria left her hometown at age 12 to find herself in Mexico City where she instead found Sergio Andrade, the man who would become her manager, boyfriend and father of two of her children. By 22 she’d sold three million copies of her debut album Que Hago Aqui? but the success of her budding career was overshadowed by her private life. Sergio Andrade was not only her manager at the time but also her boyfriend. He was a dangerous man who abused and manipulated her. He managed to strip her of self-esteem and exploited her for his own sick agenda.

In 2000 both Andrade and Trevi were arrested in Brazil after fleeing the authorities. It was discovered that the couple had been involved in sex cult and were charged with kidnapping, child sexual abuse, and embezzlement. Sergio had not only been capitalizing off Gloria’s success but had brainwashed her into using her fame to lure young girls into a child sex ring. At the time of their arrest, three minors were found with them. The nature of their crimes also led to an investigation into the 1999 death of the couple’s infant daughter, whose body has never been recovered. While imprisoned, Trevi became pregnant and DNA tests concluded Sergio as the father. She gave birth to her son, Sergio Angel, in 2002 and was allowed a short release from prison to care for her child but was extradited to Mexico later that year and sent to a maximum-security prison. After spending four years and eight months in prison, Gloria was cleared of all charges due to lack of evidence and released in 2004.

Finally free from Andrade’s clutches (who was sentenced to almost 8 years for the kidnapping, rape, and corruption of a minor) she was set to start her life anew. In 2005 she got back to the music industry by releasing the album Como Nace El Universo. That same year she announced another pregnancy with her boyfriend, Armando Gomez, the lawyer that helped free her from jail. In 2006 she released another album La Trayectoria which includes her #1 hit Todos Me Miran, a song inspired by how worthless Sergio Andrade made her feel and how she shed that identity to become an independent, empowered woman as she was meant to always be. Gloria wasn’t ready to view the world through rose colored glasses yet because in 2007 she sued a Mexican producer for defamation after he publicly accused her of killing her baby girl in 1999. These accusations couldn’t stop Gloria’s career from prospering though as she released her album Una Rosa Blu that year and it went platinum in Mexico. The following year she went on a world tour and in 2009 Trevi married Armando Gomez. The events of her life seem like something out of a thriller drama and make up 10 years of her life. Today she lives with her husband and two children in Texas.

Her accomplishments include selling over 20 million recordsnine recorded albums, one live album, six recompiled albums, 32 singles, five tours, three films, one autobiography (Gloria), a starring role in the telenovela Libre Para Amarte, and a hit 13-episode docu-series of her life which premiered on Mun2 last year. Personally I believe her biggest accomplishment is overcoming a life of abuse and manipulation. Today she has put her past behind her, though there are times when it is brought up again and she acknowledges that this will forever happen to her. She has matured from her experiences but the outspoken wild child in her still lives on. As a kid, I admired her for her rocker ways. As an adult, I admire her for being a survivor of abuse and feminist bad ass.

When life turns its back on you, grab its ass! -Gloria Trevi

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Hecho En Mexico

Watched Hecho En Mexico last night with my mom, it’s a documentary she’s been wanting to watch for a while. It’s about art, music, and overall life in Mexico as it relates to its indigenous roots. It touches on a lot of topics that hinder Mexico’s culture such colorism, poverty, drugs, the effects of colonization. It was a beautiful and interesting documentary on the roots of my culture. People speaking indigenous languages were featured, and despite being considered “dead languages” there are still natives who speak them and many of them actually don’t know how to speak spanish. Many celebrities were featured in the documentary and gave their opinion on the contrast between colonized Mexico and the indigenous. The idea of a new Mexicanidad was brought to light. That there are Mexicans who are finding empowerment in being Mexican by returning to and appreciating indigenous culture.

A huge part of Mexican culture is La Virgen, or the Virgin Mary. Though a majority of Mexicans are faithful to Catholicism, the religion itself being embedded in Mexico is a result of colonization. The Spanish beat the indigenous into accepting Catholicism as the dominant religion. But for many Mexicans, La Virgen is more spiritual than religious. Spirituality triumphs religion and there are even atheists who find themselves believing and accepting La Virgen. My own spiritual beliefs lie within Aztec gods and goddesses, but the documentary is informative and very interesting. It’s currently on Netflix and is great for anyone looking to learn more about Mexico’s pre-Hispanic native roots.

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Anti-Blackness in Latino culture

As a little girl, I always attended schools that were predominantly Latino. Specifically Mexican, which I am half. The next race in with majority population was white. Honestly, I can say that I could count up the number of black kids who went to any school with me on one hand. They have always been the minority in the area I live in. As this was the case, my face to face interaction with black kids between pre-K and 12th grade was pretty nonexistent. It wasn’t until college where the student population was about 97% black that I really ever had the opportunity to diversify my social crowd. Now that I’m an adult I think back to my upbringing and how despite the fact that the black population was low in my area, my Latino parents always made racist implications against black people. And they weren’t the only ones. All my friends are Latinos and growing up their parents also tried to instill racist ideas into my friends.

All my life, I excused my parents’ anti-black form of thinking as outdated old school beliefs. Over the years, my mom has changed her way of thinking significantly, largely in part to listening to discussions my brother and I have on race and society. But now between the Michael Brown and Eric Garner tragedies, a wave of Latinos expressing anti-blackness is coming to light and quite frankly, I’m fucking appalled. I cannot believe that my people, many of them in my age group really think this way. And I believe until recently I was part of the problem because I chose to be blind to it.

In Mexico it’s no secret that lighter skinned Mexicans are ideally thought of as more attractive and “better” in general over darker skinned Mexicans. Just take a look at Mexico’s elite, predominately light skinned. In novelas light skinned Latinas are portrayed as oversexualized beauties and the dark skinned women are played as “muertas de hambre” such as the role of a maid or common vagrant. Admittedly, this view went over my head during my upbringing because I am a white passing Latina and the struggles of the light skinned xicana don’t compare to those of the dark skinned. Colorism goes so far as to produce a complete erasure of Afro-Latinos and create hate between light and dark skinned Latinos. Unfortunately there are even cases of blatant self hate because of this.

Tonight FOX Deportes reporter Erika Reidt was called out for posting this instagram comment

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When twitter users wanted Erika to address her anti-black remarks and basically own up to them, she made a terrible attempt at trying to convince the public that her account had been hacked. When she saw no one fell for that bullshit, she turned to saying that she could relate to the black struggle because she “grew up poor in the hood”. Bad answer, Erika. Overall it was disheartening to see a Mexicana who did grow up in a household that experienced social injustice due to race, try to undermine the racial struggle of another race.

The times are a-changin’ and as people of color the worst thing we can do to one another is attempt to discredit or devalue each other’s struggle. The truth is all minorities experience struggle due to race but we do not all live through the same struggle. Black issues are not Latino issues are not Native American issues and so on. So though we we may not be able to fully relate to one another, we can be accepting and support each other. Non-black Latinos should keep in mind that if they perpetuate anti-blackness yet promote a pro-Latino agenda they are still in fact cutting off a large portion of the Latino population.

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Why I’ll never stop loving social media

The internet has changed our lives indefinitely and social media is such an integral part of our day to day activities yet its significance has long been lost to the general population. But the more changes there are within social media and the more it advances, creates, and designs, the more in love I fall with the world that exists through the internet. I will probably never stop finding it mind-boggling that social media allows for us connect with people all over the world. That’s all the way around the globe; spin it 360 degrees, pinpoint a location, and you’ll find it possible to log into any one of your accounts and reach out to someone who lives there. People make friends and fall in love with people who live halfway across the country or the world from them and meet them when they would’ve never known about their existence otherwise. I’m using wordpress right now just to thought vomit on our computer/phone screens. And what I wrote from my bed in Chicago, you guys are reading wherever it is that you are. This is really how far social media has taken us in being able to form relationships with others.

Brands and business develop and thrive on the internet nowadays. Social media provides them with an inexpensive platform to connect with fans and consumers. Social media marketing plays such an important role in the success of a business in our current society. Just think about it, this marketing strategy was nonexistent only 20 years ago. Now it’s an ever growing, invaluable method of collecting data and growing a brand. It allows small businesses to shine and even gives the average Joe a way of networking and gaining employment advancements.

Social media is also a live news feed. Today we’re able to find out about something before it’s even reached major news stations. We know more than the media. Are you feeling empowered? You should. You’re able to know more than the resources that twist, change, and put a spin on facts to get you to believe what they want you to. Social media is giving you the power to form your own opinions, untainted by mass media. It allows you to develop your interests from anywhere you’re sitting. Just think of all the youtubers prospering because they form content based off their own interests and share it with millions of others who like those same things. It’s easier than ever to seek out other people who share similar interests to you and form a community within a social networking site where you can all discuss, debate, and compare these interests. Honestly, what the fuck. How beautiful is that?

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The only fault I can find within social media is the one that we’ve psychologically created. I can’t be the only one, in fact I know I’m not, who has seen someone on instagram who looks nothing like they do in person. We’ve all got that one friend or acquaintance who brags about their life on facebook or twitter but when it comes to counting up accomplishments in “real life” the list is short. Why do people do these things? Simple: We’ve made the mistake of believing social media is an alternate universe. That we can be whoever we want to be online with no repercussion or responsibility to be held accountable for over our internet actions. In a sense, this can be true. We only share the aspects of our lives that we want people to know. But keep in mind that your social media accounts are an extension of your reality. Not a whole new life. You can’t expect to catfish your entire identity and get away with it forever. Personally I believe if you wouldn’t say it in person, you shouldn’t say it online. It seems like more and more people on the internet are agreeing with this concept. For example, the recent Michael Brown tragedy has brought forth a slew of racists that the people of social media are now getting fired from their jobs and suspended from their schools. However that might make you feel, it goes to show that you are responsible for your character in any context of reality. Virtual or physical. It’s not just twitter, it’s not just facebook, so on and so forth. For the common introvert, which I definitely am, social media gives us a channel in which we can be more outspoken than we would be if confronted. But it’s these same channels that gave me a deeper sense of confidence in my own thoughts and opinions because when I realized how many people thought like me online, I became more assured that there had be more people like me in my area than I was giving them credit for being. Social media can certainly improve your quality of life, and it should already be adding to it. The online communities you choose to engage in should be benefiting your social life, but it has to be your life, not an online identity you’ve created to mask insecurities.

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