My relationship with "culture" is rather complicated. More often than not, I identify as Latina. Having grown up predominantly with my mother's Colombian side of the family, it seems inherent to me. When I'm feeling super introspective and in the mood to analyze my moral compass, there are many distinctly Hispanic ways of thinking regarding family, friendships, romance and work ethic that I suppose have been ingrained within me (and I realize the word "distinctly" borders on a generalization, but in this case, I believe it's relevant). They are notions that even now, as a [sort of] adult with [I sincerely hope] my own views and morality, I gravitate toward slightly more than distinctly American notions. But when it comes to body image, I'd much rather opt out of both spheres of perception. I can't get down with the "thin is everything" ideology that is such a part of U.S. living, nor can I accept the, "Curves are good, fat is bad. But let me feed you deep fried everything anyway," way that was half of my upbringing. And so, I gravitate toward women who make strides in counteracting these nonsensical views on beauty — women who feel strong enough to do their own thing. And when it comes to Latinas doing as much, it seems even more special. The sad reality is that visits to Colombia often leave me feeling drained by the hegemony that's still so obvious, so finding ladies who dance to the beat of their own drum is magical. And thanks to Instagram, accessible.
Part of feeling connected to my "culture" has, to me, always been largely dependent on being immersed in some kind of aspect of it. If I'm in the states for months or years at a time, I begin to feel far more American. If I'm in Colombia for six months, the opposite is true. But I'd love to make a point out of feeling connected with both sides of my culture — both sides of myself. And if there's one thing social media has succeeded in achieving, it's a means to interconnectivity. At any time of the day, we can Skype or WhatsApp or email our relatives on the other side of the world. At any time of the day, we can stalk our favorite people online. And at any time of the day, we can take a moment to appreciate Instagrammers — because it is, by far, the best in social media (as proven by these Latina babes).
1. DIANA LA COUNTE
Equipped with a sense of whimsy and innocence, Diana's feed is always a precious hybridization of retro flare with a #GIRLBOSS attitude.
2. JULIE SARINANA
Edgy and chic, with a sense of added mystery, Julie never fails to captivate her blog readers. (Or, obviously, her Instagram followers.)
3. MONIQUE FRAUSTO
Traditionally feminine with a rocker twist, Monique's selfies and outfit photos are always a pleasant surprise.
4. MARCY GUEVARA
A fan of bold prints and a "curves are beautiful" psyche, Marcy is simply a joy to behold.
5. STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ
Never failing to evoke a sentiment of 90s grunge, Stephanie uses denim, fur, stripes and crop tops in the most supreme of ways.
6. BIANCA A. SANTOS
The DUFF and Happyland actress is only 24, and already ace at doing her own thing. Her Instagram will often take us behind the scenes of film studios or right to the mirror for an awesome selfie moment.
7. CARMEN ORDONEZ
Carmen is a fashion expert, a mother, a wife and an all around example of "having it all." And, you know, she owns this hat.