Option 1: At the end of Hijas Americanas, Molinary includes the interview questionnaire that she used with the women she spoke with for this project (Appendix B, pp. 301-302). Choose between 1-3 of the questions included on this list and answer them with as much detail as you are willing/able to do. As an introduction to your answers, please explain why you chose these questions to answer and how you think your answers might benefit readers of your blog post.

7) What was the message you received inside/outside your home about femininity, body image, and sexuality? Did you notice a difference between the messages you received from your family, boys in your peer group, and girls in your peer group?

Growing up I was taught that I had to be feminine since I was born a girl. I was told I had to sit like a girl, walk like a girl, talk like a girl. My family often made fun of the way I talk, saying that I sounded like a man just because my voice was deeper than what a “feminine” voice should sound like. I was told that I shouldn’t have been working out as much as I was because then my arms would be too big like a man. I was told I had to learn how to clean and cook for my “future husband” and that I should always listen to what the male superiors in my family said. 

Like many Latino families, the ideal body type to my family is big breasts, big glutes, and a flat stomach. Pertaining to body image, my family praised me for one aspect of my body, because I was skinny, and would shame me for a lack of the other two. They did this to all the girls in the family, if they were skinny, or had the curvy skinny body too, saying we’d “get all the boys”. When I was old enough and started educating myself on things like this, I realized just how detrimental and disgusting the hypersexualization of me and my female family members was, and is. Many of the older women in my family have gone as far as getting surgeries in a pursuit to get that ideal body type that my family praised. 

My family was extremely homophobic growing up, and they made it very clear. My first ever crush was on a girl in elementary school. However, my family would force on me that being gay was a sin, and that you would go to hell for it. They would make fun of gay people we would see on certain occasions, and at a certain point the way they forced it so much on us that it made me believe it. I had an unconscious internalized homophobia. It made me disgusted with myself first, as I knew I always had that part of myself, I hid it and pushed it away for years. My family would also shame the boys if they did something deemed as “feminine” like paint their nails, or something as simple as drawing a rainbow. I remember growing up my mom never told me she was proud of me for my accomplishments in school, but would be quick to say something negative if I stepped out of the bounds that they set for me pertaining to these topics. If I wore a “boyish” outfit, or didn’t want to wear a dress, I was shamed. If I didn’t want to wear makeup or wear heels, I was shamed. It took a long time for me to accept and love myself. 

I chose to answer this question because growing up taught these things were forced on me more than anything, and made me struggle with being comfortable in my skin, as I thought that I had to constantly take drastic measures, such as eating more even when I was full, and buying weight gain supplements, just to fit into what my family taught me was the perfect body image. These things being instilled in me really made me struggle with accepting myself and being happy. It also made me view the world in such a negative, judgemental way, among many other things. When I had my first and last boyfriend before coming out, these things that were taught to me made me susceptible to violent situations with this person. Believing what they had taught me and what I had witnessed in the male-female dynamics in my family, aided in me falling victim to many things. As years went by and I educated myself more in these areas, I started to accept myself and address these unconscious biases they planted in me. I became extremely aware of just how detrimental and dangerous these ideologies can be to Latinos, especially Latina women, as I witnessed and experienced it firsthand. It helped me be a healthier person, be happier, and view the world in a better light.

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  1. Hi Gaby!
    I appreciate your bravery for talking about such a heavy topic like this, and I really do feel your pain. I began questioning my sexuality from a young age as well, and when I decided that bisexuality was what suited me the most, I had a very hard time with my self image. My parents have a very complicated view on the LGBT community. I have other family members who are openly gay, and they are very loved by them. However, my parents’ views are that they are fine with gay people, as long as it is not their children. I was never able to explore my sexuality growing up because with every time I would try to come out, I was met with words such as “No you’re not, you’re just confused” “It’s a phase” “It’s just the latest trend, you’ll grow out of it.” With how traditional and close-minded the Latino community can be, it is much more harder for us to accept ourselves and our queerness compared to more progressive races and societies.

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