The allure of a quinceañera for teenage girls is the stuff, the attention and the feeling of collective adoration from their family and friends. Is it an outdated tradition with misogynistic roots? Yes, completely. Will it ever go out of style? No, I don’t think so.
The quinceañera is not just a party or a debut into society for a young lady of marriageable age. It is an industry with lots of stakeholders comparable to the wedding industry. Because let’s be honest here, a quinceañera and a wedding have way more similarities than differences. And just like weddings, quinceañeras are here to stay.
People love a party and a quinceañera is a party on crack. There is church, a procession, pageantry, synchronized dancing, and of course, glamour and drama. It is the stuff that literally movies, documentaries, and TV shows are made of and have been made of.
For this week’s podcast we interview Jesse Garcia, the star of Quinceañera, the movie from 2006. This movie was released when I was working as a choreographer for a company called Sueños de Quinceañera. I did not have a quince. I had never even been to a quince before starting to choreograph for them. This job, this movie, and all of the subsequent shows like My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV, were my indoctrination into an a segment of Latino teen life that I had not been aware of.
We talked with Jesse a little bit about quinceañeras, but mostly we talked about the movie. Enjoy!
Did you have a quinceañera?
Will your daughter(s) have one?
Would love to hear from you!
Alex and I both have bicultural children. We are always trying to figure out how to instill in them the cultural traditions and cultural identity that we grew up with. It’s hard. Our kids are growing up in a different world. One in which we have to re-educate ourselves regarding terms like Latinidad.
I like the word Latinidad because to me it sounds very similar to La Unidad, unity. But apparently I am totally wrong about this because as I’ve researched this term and have learned about how it has been used, I have come to realize that it is just another umbrella term that does not quiet encompass the diversity that exists in the Latin American diaspora. This umbrella term just assumes that we are the same type of demographic and this could not be further from the truth.
Politicians, marketers, content creators want to speak to us and appeal to us because we are a fast growing population who will soon be approaching our peak earning years. Having a term like Latino, makes it easy for them, the people in power, the patriarchy, however you want to call it, to put a very diverse population into a very neat little box. The real question here is: is it easier on us to be or become Latinos in the US or is it just another confusing term of identity we have to adapt to and learn to be a part of?
Honestly it’s both easier and confusing. It is easy in the sense that I can just say that I am Latina and most people know what I am talking about, and what that kind of sort of means. Latino/a/x provides a point of reference mainstream America understands. It is more confusing though because it is added layer of identity. I have to be from my country of origin. I have to be American. I also have to be this hybrid Latino in the US that is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, depending on where in the US I reside.
If it is confusing for me, imagine how it is for my kids who happen to also be bicultural. This is my challenge as a mom. How will I teach my children about all of the spaces that they inhabit?
How do you explain Latinidad to your kids?
Is this a term you identify with?
Would love to hear from you!
Wendy writes blog posts that turn into conversations for the Mamá Cita Podcast.