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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 06:01 PM   #1
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Arrow Latinas should show their true color

Latinas should show their true color

December 21, 2002

BY SUE ONTIVEROS SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST


So I was watching the late-night ''Oprah,'' and there was America Ferrera, the young star of my new favorite film, ''Real Women Have Curves.'' And while the talk centered on one of the movie's themes--women and weight issues--I wanted someone on screen to notice her hair.

Yes, America Ferrera is weightier than the lollipop-head actresses out there. However, I want people who see her, particularly young Latinas, to notice this young woman's hair. Because what's cascading down Ferrera's shoulders is what I call Latin hair. It's dark brown and thick, with a lot of body so it holds a curl well. And you know what? It is really pretty.

Right before Ferrera, Salma Hayek was chatting about her latest film, ''Frida,'' with Oprah, and Hayek, too, had a nice case of Latin hair going. Hers isn't as full, but it is a real color, not one you get out of a bottle, so it was shiny and so healthy looking. Once again, it was very pretty hair.

I mention this, and I wish young Latinas would notice these actresses because all around me I see butchered Latin hair. Everywhere I see big blotches of phony red (really burnt orange) covering what once was pretty dark Latin hair. Or the color that really saddens me, bleached blond on a little Latina, where that true pretty Latin hair is struggling at the roots to sneak back out.

Maybe they're modeling themselves after the celebrity Latinas. Jennifer Lopez used to sport some really pretty Latin hair. I remember it in her short-lived TV show ''Second Chances.'' Her hair was a lot like Ferrera's back then.

Now that Hollywood has gotten its hands on Lopez's hair, it's been straightened and blond highlights are everywhere. Why, if you were looking at just the back of her head, you'd think she was just any other Anglo actress, which I am sure is Hollywood's goal. She's still ''Jenny from the Block.'' Right.

And then there's Shakira, the Latin pop songstress with a good set of pipes. That should have been enough for her to make it here, but oh, no. Along the way, someone convinced her that to really cross over into the mainstream market in the United States, she'd need new hair. If you ever saw photos of her before, with this long, flowing, gorgeous dark hair, you'd know why that frizzy bleached mess on her head today is such a crime.

Oh, I know young females want to experiment with their looks. (I also know that there comes a time in a middle-age woman's life when a little hair dye is a good thing.) What troubles me is I'm sure there are entertainment executives who want these young Latina celebrities to appeal to the growing Latin market here, but they don't want them to be too Latin.

When you have that long, flowing dark hair running down your back, there's no denying that Latin blood.

But, add some blond highlights, or, in Shakira's case what looks like a whole case of peroxide, and the eye isn't entirely sure what it's seeing. Hollywood likes actresses to have that ''exotic'' look, but not too exotic. Think I'm paranoid? Catch Margaret Cho's brutally honest film, ''I'm the One That I Want,'' and you'll see that the entertainment industry has some hideous ideas on how to work with minority entertainers--particularly females.

As celebrities agree to back away from their Latin looks, that message seeps down to the young Latinas who want to emulate them. So what you have is some really ugly hair out there. I don't like seeing so many Latinas masking their ethnicity.

I just wish Latinas would realize that true Latin hair is an asset. It's really pretty, and it's who they are. There's a quote I like from the poet e.e. cummings, a guy who really went his own way. To paraphrase, he said to be really brave, show the world who you really are.

If Latinas would just be who they are (and in most cases, they are not blonds), they'd feel a lot better about themselves. Experts say lack of self-esteem among Latina teens is a real problem. Hiding who they are under a bottle of hair dye can't be helping matters.
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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 06:16 PM   #2
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This article is so stupid. To be honest, all women dye their hair because they are women. They like different looks, that's it.
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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 07:51 PM   #3
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Yeah...but the author makes a point about latinas denying their own beauty in favor of the 'blond' look which most Amercians find more appealing.
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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 09:00 PM   #4
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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 10:37 PM   #5
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Shakira's hair was so cool when she had it in braids.
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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 10:39 PM   #6
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I agree CHOCO.
Shakira's hair was much better when she had that long, bright and beautiful dark hair.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 12:41 AM   #7
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I think it's fine for people to color their hair but the article is right. Now I am living in Germany and have noticed how many male German celebrities or even just regular dye their hair really dark and try to get tans and look all Latin and exotic. It looks nice to some extent especially with the light eyes that many Germans have but when you see the lighter eyebrows or stubble I keep thinking why is this necessary. Of course standing next to this guy is some bleach-blond Italian women.

Essentially I do think many women believe that only blond is sexy and an increasing number of guys think that women only like swarthy, Latin guys. I feel this also reveals not only racial and ethnic stereotypes but also SEXISM. The woman is supposed is light and delicate and blond and the male role is the opposing dominant, dark look. It's all bullshit IMO cuz there are plenty of gorgeous dark-haired women and hot blond guys.

Hopefully Martina and Jennifer will not go blond ever!
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 04:12 AM   #8
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Harloo is spot-on about women. Many of us love trying out different hues and cuts. It's not unusual.

The writers's totally wrong though about masking ethnicity. A bottle of peroxide cannot hide bone structure, nose width, butt proportion, lip composition...

It can close some doors as well.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 08:57 AM   #9
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One of the reasons that I admire latin women is because of their natural beauty, including their beautiful hair.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 01:35 PM   #10
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 02:55 PM   #11
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I tend to find a lot of Asian and Scandinavian women naturally beautiful too. For me the term "Latin" is a bit vague though since any person of any race can be Latin. The look can range anywhere from a philipino to native american to spanish/moorish/arabic to european (Jewish, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish) to mestizo to afro-caribbean to afro-mesoamerican to afro-european to a mix of any of the above. Straight black hair is not the only look but is the stereotype and the most common.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 03:12 PM   #12
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treufreund - wow!!!! I find myself agreeing with you 100 percent.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 04:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by treufreund
For me the term "Latin" is a bit vague though since any person of any race can be Latin.
What do u mean with that?
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 05:13 PM   #14
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otherwords...you can be a black latin, white latin, indian latin, mestizo, mixed, mulatto latin, asian latin, etc.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2002, 05:23 PM   #15
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Agree about Shakira's hair.She looks so vulgar in blond.Go back to black hair Shaki!

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