I remember puberty in acute and troublesome detail. While all of my girlfriends were growing breasts and figuring out how to sneakily buy bras from Victoria's Secret without their moms finding out, I was having different issues. My hips and derriere were expanding at far faster rates than my chest, and all of a sudden, dresses would get caught at my waist and refuse to stretch downwards. As someone who loves wearing dresses, this was a problem.
Add to that the stress of trying to please my mama — I honestly think Latina moms and grandmas put a lot of pressure on their daughters to look just right — and things could get really overwhelming. Plenty of hip-hugging shapewear was presented to me for birthdays, and if ever I was gifted an occasion dress, you better believe it had a boob-to-thigh bodyshaper alongside it. I was taught that curves are beautiful ...so long as they tuck in and stick out in the right places.
The fact is, the whole "hourglass" thing (though nice to look at and be complimented on) doesn't exactly make finding clothes effortless, especially if you've grown to hate shapewear. These days, I've gotten better at knowing what size I am at different shops, but that took years. Seriously, years.
Whenever I visit Colombia, of course, I feel like retailers actually get it, and they'll help me find the right sizes without growing increasingly annoyed. Sure, ever body is made differently, but there are some clothing struggles only we Latinas truly understand about clothes and shopping. Things like...
YOU'RE NEVER THE SAME SIZE IN TOPS AS you are in BOTTOMS
From age 13 onwards, your waist stayed more or less the same ... while your hips grew around 10 inches. And while it looks great, a 10-inch or greater waist-to-hip ratio actually doesn't facilitate shopping.
YOU'VE SNEAKILY MIXed-AND-MATCHED THE SIZES OF UNDERWEAR/SWIMWEAR SETS AT SHOPS
While fearing that the cashier would notice and call mall security. I genuinely think cashiers were my worst nightmare in high school.
GETTING ANYTHING OVER YOUR HIPS REQUIRES A LOT OF BOUNCING AND SHIMMYING
When it comes to jeans (and basically any other form of pants), be prepared to get a workout in your dressing room. Think jumping up and down, wiggling about and using all your upper arm strength to get those bottoms up just an inch more.
...AND you've probably RIPPED A DRESS OR TWO TRYING TO GET IT OVER YOUR Booty IN A CHANGING ROOM
Let's face it. Dresses just don't come with enough stretch to accommodate a larger bum and 50-inch hips.
EVERY TIME YOU VISIT A NEW STORE, YOU HAVE TO TRY ON FOUR SIZES
Maybe this is a problem for everyone, but add two mismatching halves of the body, and you're in store for a six-hour trip to the mall. Minimum.
A LOT OF CLOTHES LOOK TIGHTER on you THAN THEY'RE "SUPPOSED" TO
This will probably result in being called several derogatory names on the street, and make you feel even more on display — even when you would much rather feel invisible.
and your SHIRTS tend to BE TIGHT AT THE BOOBS, AND LOOSE EVERYWHERE ELSE
And whenever anyone comments on how great it is that you have a defined waistline, you can't help but think you'd rather have more even proportions.
...yup, THEY'LL SWOOP DOWN, EVEN IF THEY SUPPOSEDLY HAVE A HIGH-NECKLINE
Those boobs, man. No matter how hard you try, they'll always find a way of popping out. Unless you stick to turtle necks.
so usually, YOU just CAN'T HELP PREFERRING DRESSES
You'd wear jeans if you could just find a pair that fit just right! But you can't, so you say "screw it" and just wear the dress.
but YOU'LL ALWAYS HEAR YOUR abuela'S VOICE IN YOUR HEAD, TELLING YOU TO WEAR A FAJA
Wearing a dress without shapewear is still taboo for many Latinas. Even if you choose to opt out (becauase you prefer breathing), you'll always have that voice in the back of your mind telling you you're doing something wrong.
still, you FEEL THE NEED TO DRESS NICE, BECAUSE IT'S WHAT YOUR MAMA TAUGHT YOU
You'll never — no matter how hard you try — feel totally comfortable leaving the house in sweatpants or a tee-shirt. Must have something to do with traditional interpretations of femininity being engrained into your brain from age six onwards.
...WHICH MAKEs PEOPLE THINK YOU'RE fancy
Like when you're in a group of people wearing sweatpants and tee-shirts.
BUT hey, AT LEAST YOU HAVE HER TO LOOK UP TO
Oh, Sofia. You really do understand.