Breaking the Mold

Written by Stephanie Hernandez


Latinos grow up with all sorts of beautiful traditions. From the dancing, to the food, to Piñatas, these cultural traditions are known to be lively and unique. However, there are two sides to traditions. Cultures can define the character of an individual, they bring out the history of the people, they unite people, but they can also limit people. When do traditions become more than just displays of cultural pride, and instead become restrictions in the Mexican-American culture? Latinitas sat down with several young Latinas and asked what they thought about their culture. Here is what they had to share:

Daisy Hernandez, 13, says she loves being a Latina because she has the best food and parties. “My favorite moments are always with my family, and my mom makes the best menudo,” says Daisy.  Even though she loves her culture, she also shares how her culture has influenced her to act a certain way. “I always have to be nice when I talk, I can’t say bad words, but my little brothers say it all the time.” She also states that as a Latina you have to be nice to boys and cook and clean, or else you won’t get married,” she says.

Mia Goodman, 11,  shares her favorite traditions in being a Mexican-American. “I love Chile, Mexican colors and parties,” she says. One tradition that she is looking forward to the most is her Quinceañera, and cannot wait to buy her dress. The Quinceañera is something most Latinitas look forward to celebrating, but the cultural expectations Mia faces is something all third or second generation Mexican-Americans can also relate to. “People say that if I’m Mexican I need to know Spanish, but I do not know Spanish,” she says. The language barrier has led to feeling left out. “Sometimes they sing Spanish songs and tell me too put my headphones on, since I don’t know them,” she says.

Mara Rivas, 24, enjoys the restrictions provided by her Mexican culture. “I like having limitations, I think it’s important for a human being to have them; if not you just go around doing whatever you want and that’s never good,” she says. When asked if she was expected to act and be a certain way as a Mexican woman she didn’t hesitate to respond with a resounding yes. “I’m supposed to be classy, polite and respectable because that’s the way my mom raised me to be,” she says. Mara says that, unlike the Mexican culture, American culture does not put their family first.  “Tú no eyes tu, tú eyes la esposa o la hija de alguien,” she says. As a Latina there is no such thing as in betweenness, meaning women go from a Man’s daughter to a Man’s wife and there in no in between. According to Mara, ” everyone knows everyone, so everybody is like gossiping, oh look that’s the girl, don’t hang out with her she’s [not a good influence].  

Marilyn Medina, 22, says she is proud of her culture but she also dismisses certain expectations, such as marriage and religion. She says that in family parties, her aunts and cousins never ask about her educational progress but instead ask the inevitable, “¿Y el Novio?” 


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