Growing Up Latina in America

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Lizbeth Arce
Writing Hot and Cool Media
Tom O’Connor
05 May 2012
Growing Up Latina in America (Cultural Differences as a Basis for Diverging Ideals of Physical Beauty) The Latino culture is one that values food for more than what it simply is. Food is something that brings families together, provides warmth and joy, and sustains life. It is no wonder why Latina immigrants and Latinas growing up in America have such a difficult time adjusting to the American culture. In America thinness is portrayed as the ideal body type. For Latinas, food is essentially turned into an object of turmoil in the conscious mind (of Latinas) due to the different ideals of two different cultures. Once a Latina has become accustomed to the American values of physical beauty, the ideal body image of voluptuous and full figured turns into waiflike and slim figured. Acculturation is the process by which someone absorbs the culture of a new society and may or may not reject the norms of their culture of origin. The Latinas that are the most accultured in America feel that thinness is the ideal figure. Latinas that relate more to their Latino culture feel that a more full body is the ideal body type (Lopez). Anderson and Becker state that, “[d]egree of exposure to or adoption of Western ideals may influence an individual’s Body image.” As such, conflict between cultural values of physical appearance causes self-esteem to decrease in Latina Women. This is a problem that mostly begins to affect young Latinas growing up in America. Acculturation is a leading factor that pressures Latinas compromising their ideals on beauty. The big issue is that Latinas are losing their culture and losing their unique beauty ideals due to the new American ideals of what beauty should be.

Latino and American cultures are very different from each other. The Latino culture celebrates food and fosters closeness. Whenever there is a special occasion to celebrate Latinos hold grand parties in which celebrations revolve around dancing and eating. The association between food and love is great. In Latino cultures members of the community critique others if they are too thin. Lovingly, mothers and grandmothers constantly ask if you are hungry or would like anything to eat, and it is extremely impolite to refuse food. The connection between food and good associations is great among Latinos. Curvy and soft women are considered attractive because of the association people make with those types of bodies and with food. It is assumed that a woman with a curvy body can cook and maintain a family. This is very attractive to other Latino males. In America, women are engaged either consciously or unconsciously in an unrelenting war with their body appearance, and food is the number one opponent in this combat. Even if women do not think they have an issue with food or with themselves, media advertisements and television shows constantly bombard viewers with the image that the ideal woman is thin. This has a great impact on American society. In fact, it has been found that in America bigger bodied women or men have become associated with laziness, weakness, and, ugliness (Brown University). Thus, food has been connected with feelings of guilt and thoughts of becoming overweight. Thinness is also reinforced on a personal and individual level. This occurs when a person is stating that they do not like their body or that they hate some part of themselves. It reinforces such thought processes in other peoples’ minds. Such comments about being flawed or slightly overweight allow other to feel that their bodies are not okay unless they are perfect. In Latino cultures, from an early age, women are taught to love their bodies and appreciate a more full figured physique Instead of the body being appreciated for its sexuality; it is appreciated by what it can do, such as cook, nurture, work, and dance. However, when women go from Latino countries to America ideals change and Latinas growing...
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