An Ordinary Body in Miami

Do I like Miami? Yes. Would I live in Miami for the rest of my life? Leaving out the fact that I can’t be at one place for too long (on this humongous planet with so many places to go and see), I can’t see myself calling this place home for the long run. However, when in the US, I can’t see myself out of Miami now either.

It’s been eight months since I made the move from previously living in Spain and Philadelphia. It was supposed to be Los Angeles. I had dreamed of California living for a long time, so I was very excited to go there and test the waters. In the end, things didn’t go as planned; I didn’t quite love any weather that wasn’t summery. So, I packed my trapos and came to Miami. I’m leaving a bunch of little details out to make this story short, but there was no financial planning when I moved here. I made that decision almost overnight.

It helps that I’m a single woman, unmarried, nomad-spirited as aforementioned, and with my only baggage being my checked-bag and my carry-on. (Life is so much easier that way throws peace sign up in the air.) I can afford to wake up and completely change my route. So that’s just what I did.

In Miami, I found better perks for me personally. There’s the much warmer December weather, rent is a tad cheaper than LA’s, and the nightlife scene isn’t just a thing of the weekend. I still use Uber or Lyft to move around (because I’d never drive in Miami), but so far it has been all right.

Some things I’ve found to complain about? I’d say, in general, LA folks were more polite than Miamians, especially on the road. There is no respect for pedestrians in Miami and I have a huge problem with that because I walk a lot. The non-walking culture that exists here, especially in suburban areas, may have something to do with the disregard for pedestrians. Unless you are in Miami Beach, you won’t see many people walking—and if you do see a person, it’s probably me.

But my main complain about the Miami culture, as I like to call it, is the insane hyper focus on women’s bodies. When I say insane I mean it in every sense of the word. I’ve been trying to understand what drives women to plastic surgery here, and according to my calculations, it’s very likely that the body issues were brought here from South America. I’m from the Caribbean, but we’re all about the same. Considering how relatively small the Caribbean is, this one is on South America.

From an early age, watching Telenovelas, I learned that a woman with a big round bust, small waist, a big butt, and straight long hair was seen as the epitome of beauty. We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sometimes when you’re young you’re kind of afraid to voice your opinion and contradict the public. Truth is you can’t aspire to be what you don’t know exist—and all they forced us to see was that specific concept of beauty. It was the main representation on Hispanic television. That concept continues to this date in our society. It is probably less intense in some parts this country, but never too short of body-shaming.

I’ve come into direct contact with this beauty concept again in Miami. Young girls in this city are under a lot of pressure, as proven by the insane amount of butt and breasts implants. Also, the hair. When I wear my curly hair I stand out, and it’s a funny thing because I know that, under that chemically straightened or flattened hair, most of these Caribbean and Latina girls have beautiful curls. I understand the humidity must be driving them crazy, but…everyone?

Reminds me of a time when I went to a club in South Beach and had to make sense of what I was seeing. Every girl looked the same. They had straight black hair (think Kim Kardashian) and wore tight mini dresses with a plunging neckline or some type of low-cut line. Cleavage is important here. It was like looking at the Latino version of the Stepford Wives. Must I remind them that our (physical) differences make the world more interesting?

For someone who’s been defying society and its beauty standards, moving to Miami has been a step back. I highly doubt that I will change anything in my body in order to “belong.” I’m too old for this sh*t. I already went through all that pressure and reached a point where I’m completely comfortable in my skin. I don’t see things changing much around here, either, since body shaming and sexism is so embedded in the culture, but there is also a good amount of young women here defying that idea, so there is hope.

What I’d say to any girls living in places like Miami is: it is up to you. Resist the urge to blend in because society says you should. Standing out is a lot more fun, anyway—trust me on this.

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