Fifteens, Drama Queens and Sweet Sixteens

In the Latino culture, many girls celebrate their coming of age through a significant ceremony called a quinceañera. Usually this occasion is marked by a girl turning fifteen years of age, hence the phrase “quince.” As many generations of Latin Americans become settled into the United States and become more “Americanized,” the tradition of having a quince is becoming more and more obscured. When American social images and Latino traditions collide they create a new image of the quince. Many girls take that collision and mold a new idea out of the popular tradition. Some girls elect to have a sweet sixteen, a trend made popular by the MTV show of the same name. Others just say no to the whole idea of a coming of age celebration, a thought that would make any abuelita cringe. As the generations build and traditions fade, the meaning of what it is to have a quince is often lost in translation.

Something Old, Something New
When traditions seem too old fashioned, many girls take the quince situation into their own hands. “It was traditional and untraditional,” remembers Jazmyne, an eighteen year old Latina. Jazmyne’s quince was modeled after an Arabian night’s theme, complete with rhinestones, and magic carpets. “It was really fun and I’ll remember it as long as I live,” Jazmyne smiles. “I decided to have a quinceañera because it was a tradition family,” explains Jazmyne, “most of my family had had one so I decided to have one too.” In mixing up new and old, Jazmyne wore a traditional white gown but had a court of all girls. “I decided to just have a small group of girls, half family and half friends,” Jazmyne says. Jazmyne added personal style by choreographing dances that she and her court performed as entertainment for guests. Because this was such an elaborate touch, everyone in her court, including Jazmyne, had to practice often. “It was hard to get everyone to show up to practice and cooperate,” laughs Jazmyne, “two of the even girls got into a fight at one of my practices!” Although Jazmyne feels that her quince was not exactly like the traditional celebration, she feels that she represented her cultural identity and appealed to main stream America accurately. “A quince is just a fifteenth birthday party and it doesn’t matter how you do it,” says Jazmyne, “as long as you share it with the ones you care for.” Jazmyne hopes that the tradition of having a quinceañera continues grow in future generations of her family. But as generations grow, will they eventually lose this coveted tradition? Or will the tradition become so far stretched that it will no longer appear to be a quince anymore?

Breaking Tradition
Even when the quinceañera tradition runs rampant in a girl’s family, some decide to skip out on the whole thing. “Everyone had one, my friends, my cousins, and even my older sister,” says sixteen year old Latina Andrea. When Andrea turned fourteen, her family already had plans to throw her a quince celebration. “My family was excited about throwing me a party!” Andrea remembers. Andrea blames everyone’s excitement on her older sister’s celebration. “She had a very fun quinceañera, and everyone was asking me when I would have mine,” says Andrea, “I had a lot of fun but I didn’t want to have a traditional ceremony with the white dress and the doll.” Andrea often watched the show My Super Sweet Sixteen, and liked some of the ideas that they had on the show. “I liked how they were not so traditional, how you could show your individuality and be different,” Andrea explains. Andrea’s mom wasn’t sure that her daughter was serious about having a quince or sweet sixteen, so she put off planning. “She [my mom] was so used to planning a quince, because of my sister, that she would have probably made my sweet sixteen party into a quinceañera,” Andrea says. During this planning time, Andrea ended up moving to another city and planning for a party was put on hold. “I just was happy that I didn’t have to worry about this big thing that I wasn’t even sure about,” Andrea reveals, “and by the time I turned fifteen, I was happy just to have a small birthday party at my house.” Although Andrea never had a quinceañera or sweet sixteen, she is fine with her choice and can’t wait for the next quinceañera or sweet sixteen celebrations in her family. When Andrea wanted to find a middle ground, her ideas went against the traditional grain. It seems as if younger generations are beginning to think differently about the quince traditions. Even if girls have some sort of coming of age celebration, it is unclear if they will incorporate older traditional symbolism into their celebration.

My Big Fat Sweet Sixteen
12 year old Latina Alex plans to have a fairytale like coming of age celebration.”I want a sweet sixteen because I want to different,” Alex says, “almost all the women in my family had a quinceañera.” Alex has big plans for her sweet sixteen and hopes to make it a celebration no one will forget. Although she is only twelve, Alex can already picture and pick out the specific look for her day. “Hot pink, lime green, orange and turquoise are the colors that I want to use in my theme” describes Alex. Because she is having a sweet sixteen, Alex elects not to have a court or chambelan. “I want it all to be about me,” Alex smirks, “every girl has a chance to be a princess, and have a special day of her own.” Alex has high hopes for the future as she becomes a young lady and her family introduces her to society. “I like the idea of a quince, but it’s just not for me,” Alex says.

When traditions fade and new ideas collide, it is certain that younger generations will draw out their interpretations about coming of age. Although it may seem as if the quinceañera is slipping out of style, all hope is not lost. As many new immigrants bring traditional ideals into the “melting pot” that is America, these sacred traditions will not fade away easily. When coming of age, many Latinas are faced with the excitement and wonder of quinceañera and sweet sixteen traditions. Now more than ever, girls are discovering new trends, breaking tradition, going all out and finding their individuality within these meaningful ceremonies. Whether you are a fifteen, sixteen or even a drama queen, it doesn’t matter how you step into your future, as long as you don’t forget your past.

January 2009

Meet Erika

Erika Anchondo
Age: 21
Cultural Background: Mexican-American
Classification: Senior
Major: Organizational & Corporate Communication

What made you decide to go to college?
I was fortunate enough not to worry if I was going to be able to attend college or not. My aunt wanted to make sure that I had a better life than she did growing up and let me know that she would do anything in order for me to attend college and thanks to her I will be the first in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree.

What made you pick your major?
I researched into the different majors that the university offered and found that with organizational and corporate communication I would be able to have a variety of job opportunities available to me once I graduate but more importantly I would be doing something I really enjoyed.

What are some of your classes?
Some of the classes I take as an organizational and corporate communication major are: public relations, public speaking, organizational communication and I was even able to do an internship where I had hands on experience.

Describe a typical day as a college student?
A typical day for me includes attending my classes and going to work. Many days I have a meeting to go to as well; those meetings are from the different clubs and organizations that I belong to. Depending on what time of year it is, I will also go to school events from pep rallies to athletic events or speakers brought to campus by one of the departments.

What is the most challenging part of college?
The most challenging part of college that I face is time management. I do not take for granted that I am able to attend college but at the same time I want to fully enjoy being a college student by being involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible. I try to balance enough time between family, school, friends and extracurricular activities but many times it can become quite difficult to do so.

What is your favorite part of college?
My favorite part of college is being a student. Being able to pick which classes you want to take and deciding what clubs you want to be a part of. As a college student you get to be proud of your university and show off your school spirit at games and events. One is also able to learn how to make a difference at the university and in the community. My favorite part of college is being able to be me.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t in school?
When I am not in school I am actually a real homebody and family oriented individual. I love to be able to spend a relaxing day with my family especially because they are my support system.

What did you do to prepare for college?
Not knowing what college was going to be like, I had no idea in how to prepare for it which is why my first year was really a learning experience.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
As a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso I am proud to say that I am a Senator At-Large for the UTEP Student Government Association. I am the Vice President of External Affairs for the Student Alumni Association, a member of the National Communication Association Student Club and will serve as a Sun Princess of the Sun Bowl Association.

What are your goals after college?
My goal is to obtain a Masters degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. I would like to get a job in Washington D.C. since I was fortunate enough to visit for the first time this year and completely feel in love with the city and the fast paced environment.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for college?
The best advice I can give a girl in preparing for college is: do not be afraid to ask questions. Going to college is an exciting and scary process; many times you might become overwhelmed by all the information or are unsure about what to do. The best way of finding out answers is to ask questions, do not feel embarrassed because I am sure that many people have the same questions that you do.

What Web sites do you recommend?
Some websites that I recommend are of course ; Latinas Learning to Lead Summer Youth Institute by the National Hispana Leadership Institute; National Council of La Raza; Rock the Vote;

Roller Derby

Ignoring the stereotypes that rough sports are only for boys, more and more girls today are taking up sports that have them in rough situations. One sport in particular, Roller Derby, is quickly rising again to popularity amongst the ladies.

The Sun City Roller Girls are a group of your average, everyday women: students, professionals, wives, and mothers in El Paso, Texas. Several times a week they swap in their heels or sneakers for a pair of roller skates and prepare to kick roller derby butt!

“There’s a certain something, a reputation, [that comes with participating in roller derby]. The sport is athletic, I wanted to work on getting some activity,” Veronica Villanueva said. A mother, student and volunteer, Villanueva adds three days of practice with the Sun City Roller Girls to her already loaded schedule.

According to, roller derby made its debut in 1935 when two skaters raced for a certain amount time and distance while people paid to watch the race. However, today’s roller derby leagues which are mostly all-female, like the Sun City Roller Girls, did not become gain clout until 2001 in Austin, Texas. The Austin roller derby team was even the subject of the 2009 movie directed by Drew Barrymore and starring Ellen Page called, Whip It.

Roller derby matches, known as bouts, consist of two teams with five skaters on each team. Each team consists of one Pivot, three Blockers and one Jammer. Each round where all 10 participants skate in a pack for no more than 2 minutes is called a ‘jam.’ The Pivot’s job is to start the jam and control the pack’s speed. Blockers simultaneously work on two objectives: they block the opposing team’s Jammer, while assuring their own Jammer advances to the front of the pack. The Jammer is the point-earner of the pack. Jammers start at the tail of the pack and fight their way to the front where they start to accumulate points.

Bouts get aggressive to the point where skaters can injure themselves seriously if not careful. Villanueva said she is no stranger to feeling the pain of competition. “I’ve had bruises and scratches. Recently, I fell on my tailbone, and got a small fracture on it. Because of that, I could barely sit for a month.”

However, she added, neither the risk of injury, nor the way some people think Derby skaters are just doing it for attention, stop her from continuing to compete in bouts.

“You go into it knowing [an injury] is a possibility. But no matter, what you’re going to do it…Same thing with first impressions, some people are excited about this new, fresh thing… but others think we’re just trying to show off our bodies, but that’s not it,” Villanueva said.

Committed to her community work, Villanueva said the Sun City Roller Derby girls participate in service projects and would like to be seen “as a positive asset to the community.”

By Rosemarie Montez

Makeup for You

When María Eugenia Bermudez went shopping for makeup, she always felt like something was missing – colors for her complexion. Wanting to address the absence of makeup products specifically catering to the unique needs and rich skin tones of Latinas, María Eugenia Bermudez decided to change that. It was in May of 2008, that Bermudez set out to create a new makeup line: Mia Mariú with the simple motto: “By a Latina, for Latinas.” Now, she has changed her passion for makeup into a way to help other Latinas and created a strong business as well.

Meeting the specific needs of Latinas means Mia Mariú Cosmetics pinpoints the undertones specific to the wearer’s skin. “What makes this make-up special for us, is the pigmentation,” Christina Ozaeta, a Mia Mariú sales representative explained. “If your skin is light, you have to purchase makeup that was created for light skins [which] tend to have pink undertones. We [Latinas], on the other hand, have olive-yellow undertones. And If you tend to be on the dark side, ‘morena’, then you’ll be buying something form the African-American line, which is more ashy. And those Latinas tend to have more copper, more bronze undertones.”

Primarily mineral-based, the line ranges from sun-kissing bronzers, eye shadows, and lipsticks to dermal-abrasion creams for the skin as well as a vitamin line. Produced in Dallas, Texas, Mia Mariú product are made with all natural ingredients, humectants and SPFs to promote healing of damaged skin.

This make-up line is growing very fast, because it was a portion of the market that was left unattended. Ozaeta has moved up to the role of a district manager, and she says, “I plan on being Mia Mariú’s first millionaire.” To Ozaeta, dream doesn’t seem impossible. Working with Mia Mariú has helped Ozaeta develop important skills in management. “Unfortunately, we Latinas know how to work very hard. Here, you’re your own boss, you decide how much you want to make – the sky is the limit.” She and other sellers receive constant training not only in make up techniques, but also in leadership.

Ozaeta said she sees her job as a sales representative as a way to help other Latinas “raise their self-esteem, see the big picture and dream big.” She enjoys her role because it gives her the opportunity to use the line of products to change their appearance while still being age-appropriate. Ozaeta suggests using light colors for eyes, like Durazno, with a bit of Mora in the eye crease to give a “full look.” In addition, Ozaeta said one should apply makeup starting at the cheekbones: “Start at the checks,” she said, “Not the front; you want the maximum coverage there.”By changing people’s appearances, Ozaeta has found a way to give back to community by raising their self-esteem.

As women, we are all beautiful. But our self-esteem is usually tied to the way we look. “Latinas buy 27% more make up than other woman in US.” To Ozaeta, the importance of this line of make-up is that it brings out the best of your beauty. She has noticed that, if a mother wears make-up, chances are the daughter will follow the mother’s footsteps: a mother models for the daughter. For teenagers, she focuses “on teaching young woman how to put make up on, so she looks age appropriate. The worst is going to a quinceañera, and seeing she looks 25.”

Currently the makeup line is only available through private sales representatives—think Avon-style home-based businesses, but because it is in demand for previously-ignored Latina consumers, the line is growing. And with its growth it is giving the opportunity to other Latinas like Ozaeta to start their own businesses selling products made for them, sold by them, to women like them.

“When you think of a Latina, and where they come from, its very tropical, humid, and the vegetation is very brilliant: we ourselves can handle a lot of colors.” As Ozaeta said, “this is an opportunity for everybody. Not only can you make money but you can help your community. We raise a women self-esteem, then we turn around and help our daughters, and we change the world.”

By Silvana Ayala

Movie Reviews

Batman – The Dark Knight
Review by Ariel Brasel, age 16

5 stars

What is the movie about? Remember not to give away the ending) It was about the joker and Z-face criminal territory Gotham City

Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie? Keith Ledger, not sure about others

What did you like best in this movie? It’s really action packed.

Was there anything you disliked about the movie? No

Would you recommend this movie? Yes

What are your favorite movies? Dark Knight, Alice in Wonderland, Corps Bride, and Shock Treatment

4 stars

What is the movie about? (Remember not to give away the ending) Bounty Hunter wanted to be hairstylist, he moved to America and become the best

Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie? Adam Sandler

What did you like best in this movie? It’s super funny, but also has a little bit of action

Was there anything you disliked about the movie? Too many pelvic thrusts

Would you recommend this movie? Yes

What are your favorite movies? Comedy, Marvel Book Movies and Horror

5 stars

What is the movie about? (Remember not to give away the ending) Stitch’s spaceship crashes on earth. Lilo takes him as a pet and Stitch tries to figure out where he belongs

Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie? Lilo, Stitch, Nanny

What did you like best in this movie? Stitch is super adorable, I like the fact that he finds were he belongs

Was there anything you disliked about the movie?; No

Would you recommend this movie?; Yes, for any family who loves Disney

What are your favorite movies? The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Forest Gump

5 stars

What is the movie about? (Remember not to give away the ending) A girl who has a hard life and losses everything, has to find herself. Her greatest friend is a little girl who is her complete opposite.

Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie? Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning

What did you like best in this movie? I like that it was about life, and I also like the way the movie was made natural and not over dramatizing

Was there anything you disliked about the movie?; Not particularly

you recommend this movie? Yes, though my taste in movies is different than others people’s

What are your favorite movies?; Titanic, Miracle, The Wedding Date, How to Deal

5 stars (out of 5)
Comedy & Romance

What is the movie about? A girl is getting married but she has to go her hometown to get a divorce from her high school sweet heart

Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie? Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey, and Ryan Gosling

What did you like best in this movie? I love how when she went home everyone knew her, because she was wild…like my hometown

Was there anything you disliked about the movie? I love it, there was nothing I did not like

Would you recommend this movie? Yes, I would

What are your favorite movies? The Wedding Singer, 10 I hate About You, and Rocket Science

5 stars

<strong>What is the movie about?</strong> About an agent who makes weapons and gets captured.

<strong>Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie?</strong> Robert Downy Jr.

<strong>What did you like best in this movie?</strong> The ending and the action.

<strong>Was there anything you disliked about the movie?</strong> No

<strong>Would you recommend this movie?</strong> Yes

<strong>What are your favorite movies?</strong> Action and Horror

<hr width=”75%” align=”left” color=”#FF6500″>
<strong>Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants</strong>
<em>Review by Mattison Miertschin, age 15</em>

5 stars

<strong>What is the movie about? (Remember not to give away the ending)</strong> Four best friends sticking together no matter what.

<strong>Who were the main actors and actresses in this movie?</strong> Alexa Bledel, Blake Livilyl, America Ferrea

<strong>What did you like best in this movie?</strong> The friendship

<strong>Was there anything you disliked about the movie?</strong> No

<strong>Would you recommend this movie?</strong> Yes

<strong>What are your favorite movies?</strong> Harry Potter movies