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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Don’t Read The News

“Don’t read the news,” I tell myself to avoid disappointment, disgust, rejection, repulsiveness, and sadness. That never works. I never listen to my own commands, my own advice. Mainly because I love being informed, even though the result is almost always the same: bad news.
world news

And it’s even worse, ten times intensified, when you get your news from the internet because it comes with an incredible amount of unsolicited commentary from trolls who are very proud of their opinion no matter how utterly stupid they sound.

I’m starting to wonder if this is really how we’re supposed to live; making each other sick with misery. Humans can’t seem to reach an agreement on how to coexist. And, common sense now seems subjective. OK, maybe common sense is still common. There are quite a lot of us fighting for reason and truth.

Maybe the problem is not that all is bad, but that we think it is. It’s ultimately what they (the ones in control) choose to show us as “news.” I don’t blame them. They want views and leads. They know that, after all, a lot of people aren’t interested in happy news, so they feed us their worst. And I guess it works.

It drives me insane, but I can’t stop reading headlines.

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Babe, You’re Already Official

The madness of this rapidly “socialized” world is wrapping me with its poisonous dew.

Getting lost. We are getting lost. Forgetting. Forgetting our nature, our purpose, what really matters. Suddenly, being everything on social media is…everything. Since when? If we’re not making a living out of it, what do we earn from it?

I remember reading a post from a sort of “famous” Instagram username the other day. It said:

She wondered how she could have so many followers and so few friends…

Whether those were her words or not; whether that’s her reality or not, it is true for many. So many. In fact, most popular people in Hollywood could probably relate. Some have the world at their feet yet can’t conquer happiness.

Fun. Trying to answer my own question, I think I do it for fun. But am I being honest? We as human require —or think we do require— so much validation. And then there’s narcissism. The media keep talking about this new narcissistic era, but aren’t we all then? Except for the people who are smart (?) enough to avoid social media, we are all guilty. If I am, if people like me are narcissistic, I fail to see how it is harmful.

But, then again, technology just keeps advancing. What if this is THE way and it’s here to stay? We’re stuck with something awful. Or perhaps something wonderful? Just recently I was reading the story of twins separated at birth and reunited through Facebook. How insanely amazing is that?! They would’ve never been able to do that before the Internet. And that’s only one of the many mysteries solved thanks to social media. That’s the great thing about this all.

Going back to why we do it, in trying to answer my question I remembered that, when you have something to promote, as in (ahem) a book or a business, those “follows” and those “likes” go a long way. It’s like the “virtual word of mouth.” It’s a great tool for free marketing. Otherwise, I hope you have a sense of humor.

In my case, if I weren’t on social media mainly for promotion purposes, I don’t know if by now I could have borne being on it at all. A few times, I’ve thought about quitting Facebook, for instance, but then remember (and try to get it in my head) that I’m not on there for personal reasons. Not especially. I no longer care to keep in touch with people through the most dramatic platform ever; that’s what Instagram is for. Okay, that’s the second worst. I don’t think you can snoop as much (considering you’re into that kind of sh*t), but Twitter is more sane. Take your love there if you must.

My original question though, was, does it validate you in society? The number of followers and the “likes” you collect, does it mean anything in real life? If not enough people “like” it, does it mean your opinion doesn’t matter and your look is underwhelming? Believe me, having a ton of people interacting with you and following your every post is pretty darn cool. But, remember; you can live without outside validation. The only one you need is your own. Your existence counts and your approval is the most important one.

 

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Sin With Me?

When I was a little girl, I’d hear the word “pecado” (sin) on the daily. It was in my elders’ vocabulary heavily. I was raised in a catholic family, and almost everything I did; everything I wanted, everything I thought, everything I DREAMED of, was considered a sin. So much that I was in a way afraid to be myself around people because, who knows, breathing might’ve had been sinning.

But sins seemed like so much fun to me. It seemed that all things proven to be good in life were sins. I kind of wanted to sin.

As an adult, effortlessly, I sin. I’m guilty. And as long as I’m not hurting anyone (too much) in the process, I am okay with that. Life is about living. To live fully, mistakes are necessary.

You can’t limit a human life that way. If the religious definition of sinning were to be true, then we’re all sinners by default. Good thing its original meaning is becoming obsolete.

Anyway, I am not trying to discuss “divine laws” — I had this thought in my head today and thought I’d write about it because I like the word and what it represents, and it’s one of my favorite ones to mock.

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