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Six young Angelenos share their stories and tell us their opinion of the term Chicano.

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All photographs by Brittany Bravo

If the term Chicano was boiled down to its simplest meaning, this would be a person born in the US of Mexican descent. In reality, the word’s history makes it much more complex. Mexican Americans reclaimed the once derogatory word in the 60s when the Chicano Movement took place. It encouraged Mexican Americans to unite in protest for their rights and fomented a sentiment of pride for their heritage. Throughout the years Chicanos have been widely portrayed in movies and the media, where stereotypes are the norm. The term is now over 50 years old. Is it something that all Mexican Americans identify with? Has the term’s meaning changed over time? Do younger generations of Mexican Americans consider themselves Chicanos? What is it like being a young Mexican American in LA in 2021? Six Angelenos of Mexican descent help us understand.

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Elíseo was born and raised in East LA. Both of his parents are Mexican, and he is part of the first generation of his family to be born in the United States. He is currently focused on modelling (where he is often told he is the first Chicano model brands have worked with), set designing and DJing (his mixes usually include House music, 70 and 80s disco and Merengue House). He also often collaborates with his friends — who work as designers, performers, drag queens, makeup artists and hairstylists—on creative projects.

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Is there a strong Latinx community in the area where you grew up?

I was lucky enough to grow up in the middle of it. My mom [used to] live on top of a Cantina on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. That whole strip is where Chicano culture started [in] the 60s. What you see everyone emulating now started when my mom was there. [LA] is a big melting pot of Latin culture. I grew up going to school, [with] not just Mexican or Chicano kids, [but] also Central Americans and South Americans. You can walk down the street in Cesar Chavez and every store you pass by is owned by somebody's mom, dad, [or] uncle. You feel a sense of: 'It's okay, you're fine...’ because you feel [at] home… That's why I think you cannot be Latinx without having a deep connection to the generations before you. As much as Latinx is a term for people who are forward-thinking in the Latin community, I still think that part of being Latinx is having a deep connection with your family, whoever that family is.

 

Do you identify with the term Chicano?

I identify with the term Chicano because I love what it stands for. But if you were to ask me what I am, I say Mexican, because Mexico has my heart. I've been going there since I was little. I've always been really connected with Mexico [and] I feel lucky and privileged to have that. But I don't shy away from the term Chicano because I believe I am that too. I am Mexican, but I was born here in the US. I'm not full Mexican, like [the] people that were lucky enough to be born there and can claim that, but I am really connected with Mexico and that's something nobody can take away from me. So, I would [I’m] say both. I don't say American ever unless I have to at the airport or something.

 

Do you think the term has evolved? If so, how?

Definitely. The Chicano community [has] changed to where it includes people like me that are gay. Fifteen years ago, East LA was not as polite and forward-thinking as it is now. I love how fast we've grown and how fast we move forward as a community. I can really identify with [the term] now. When I was growing up here, in the heart of East LA, it was hard being different. We weren’t seen as part of the general public; we were weirdos or freaks. But now it's more inclusive. Maybe I live in a bubble in LA, but that's how it is here now. I have friends that are drag queens, and fifteen years ago, they couldn't walk down the street, they would've gotten beat up. Now there's a Latinx bar in Boyle Heights that have drag queen performers and men that are passing by stop and they'll be on the curb watching the show. People are just trying to live [and] enjoy life because we've been through so much already as a community.

 

What was it like growing up as a person of Mexican descent in the US?

Growing up here and being the first generation was hard, because… I think about my [parents], they're immigrants, so they're coming here and building a foundation for the next generations to come [from scratch]. Being Mexican American first-generation… now that I'm older, and I've seen them go through that, we always had a sense of giving back and helping our parents. [Because] it was obvious they were trying to build something more for us than what they had. That's the one thing that [Mexican Americans] all have in common, that we all have either immigrant parents or our parents were the first-generation so we're part of the foundation. Now that I have nephews, I see everything that I went through and the things that my mom, dad, [and siblings] went through, it's all for us to learn so that they don't have to work through it. They have a better chance. 

 

How do you stay in touch with your Mexican Heritage?

My mom and dad and their friends live for a good time, so [growing up] there was always a Quinciañera, a wedding or a baptism. That was very Mexico in a way but also very LA. That's where I got a lot of my influences from, seeing everyone happy, the music, the decorations, the backyards, the houses […] it was very Mexican and very Chicano. That's how I always stay close to my heritage, being around a great mixture of Mexican or Mexican American or Latino people. I was always around this environment, that's what's shaped me. I feel like I am a huge representation of the modern-day young homosexual Chicano [laughs].

 

Would you say that your culture or heritage influences the how you dress?

Completely. My mom and dad's friends loved dressing up and it was always a friendly competition of who was like wearing the cutest outfit or who had the best hair… [I was influenced by] how first-generation Chicanos were going out in the 90s. [My style has] been influenced heavily by my mom, my sisters, novelas that I saw on TV – the way they used to do the girl's hair and makeup and earrings, I always paid attention to those things. I've always liked wearing a lot of jewellery. [I was influenced by] my dad and all the gold he used to wear. [By] my grandma too, she used to [wear] a seminario, it's a set of seven gold bracelets that a lot of Mexican women wear, especially older women.

 

What do you think is a common misconception people have of Chicano or Latinx culture?

Chicano culture is Mexican American culture and I think it's Mexican American culture that's deep-rooted in East LA. But what people mostly know about Chicano culture [is] the lowriders and the cholos and cholas. I don't blame them. [It’s] because [of] the movies that we've seen, ‘American Me?’, ‘Blood in Blood out’… that's what you get when you think about Chicano culture. For the most part back then [it] was very machista [sexist] and I think that's where Latinx is different. Latinx culture is a way of including all of us Latinos but respecting the differences between us. Back then when you would say, 'Oh, he's Latino,' you were just saying, 'Oh, he's Mexican.' But you don't know if he's Mexican. What if he's Peruvian? Or Salvadorian? You don't know that. Latinx culture is the forward way of thinking that is uniting everyone but respecting that we're different. Not to say that Chicano culture is bad, [it] is part of Latinx culture. We're individuals [but] we're connected.

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Jenn is from South Central LA, Watts and Compton to be specific. The 24-year-old currently works as a freelance sexual health educator and models for brands like Bella Doña. Both of her parents are from Zacatecas and immigrated to the US when they were young, making her and her sibling first-generation Mexican Americans.

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Do you identify with the term Chicana?

In the beginning, especially in college, I strongly identified with being Chicana. Then, I started doing my research on the term [and asked myself], ‘Where am I in that movement? Am I even a part of that movement? Does that movement even resonate with my values?’ As of now, I identify more with Latinx than Chicana. [The term Latinx is] more inclusive, especially when it comes to trans folks. Also, I feel like it includes Afro Latinos. I'm not Afro Latina, but in our culture, there's a lot of anti-blackness and I just I didn't like that.

 

What was it like growing up as a person of Mexican descent in the US?

I wouldn't say it was easy, but I am proud of where I come from. My dad and mom did a lot of hard labour, they worked all the time to make ends meet. Money was tight, but because of that, I've learnt how to make do with what I have. Even now that I have ‘adult money’ sometimes I splurge but sometimes I'm like, ‘I could get this at the swap meet [market] or at the thrift [store].’ Now thrifting is a really big thing and there's a gentrification of thrifting […] which is heart-breaking. A lot of folks still need [it] because it's their means of getting stuff, it's not an aesthetic. Growing up thrifting was looked down upon [but] I love thrifting [and] going to las pulgas [flea market] on a Sunday to see what I could buy with a dollar.

 

How do you stay in touch with your Mexican Heritage?

I feel like I'm ‘culturally Catholic.’ I'm not religious, but my parents are. So, growing up we were at church all the time and for me, that was a way to connect with my Mexican roots. For my parents, it connected them a lot to memories of home, going to posadas, confirmation, first communions, bautismos [baptisms]… Religion was the bridge [to find] home in America for them. I always appreciate a Sunday. [It’s] our rest day where we go to church [and] come together as a family. We’ll either have a garden carne asada [roast] or go to the park. That's something that I want to [continue doing] and I've tried to do with my friends, my chosen family and with my family too.

 

Does your culture or heritage influence the way you dress?

Growing up we had to make do with what we had. So, [we would go] to the thrift store or Downtown [to] the callejones [alleys] and try to find stuff for the low and make an outfit out of that. Now [that] I'm able to get sneakers, I will splurge on [them] if I have to [laughs]. But I also find pieces that remind me of home. Growing up [my] older cousins and siblings would rock a fresh white t’s with some nice Dickies, their Cortezes [sneakers] and chains. Now I have my own Dickies, my sneakers, my hoops that I got from the beauty supply store [and] I could finally buy my own chain. It's interesting to see that style be in the mainstream. Because back then it was like 'Oh, that's hood' or 'Oh, that's ghetto.' But now it's like, ‘Oh, that's tight… that's fresh.’ I've [also] been to Zacatecas [where my parent’s family] live. [It’s] a Rancho so it's very like botas [boots] and Wrangler jeans. Leather boots are such a staple. The smell of leather reminds me of Mexico. Every time we go to Tijuana or visit Mexico, we [go to] their downtowns and buy leather boots.

 

What is a common misconception people have of Mexican Americans or Latinx culture?

In LA, a lot of the times, we get [placed] in this box of cholo or chola culture, which is valid, because that culture is a part of the West Coast, especially with Latinos, lowriders, and things like that. But that's just not everyone. That's always something that's been stereotyped with the Latinx community. There's meaning to [cholo and chola style]. That's important to know. You have to respect that. [So,] if you're going to wear something, be aware of where it comes from, and make sure that it's not just an aesthetic [or a] costume.

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Mara is a 22-year-old full-time student of Psychology and Families and Substance Abuse, specialising in drug and alcohol counselling. She is also the mother of 3-year-old Rowan. Mara and her brothers are first-generation Mexican Americans. Growing up they lived throughout Orange County until they settled in Garden Grove.

 

Alina is a full-time Production and Product Development student, who specialises in fashion. The 24-year-old, who grew up in Huntington Beach, also works at her mother’s mid-century furniture store. She is a first-generation Mexican American from her father’s side and Italian, Filipino and Spanish from her mother’s side.

 

The two met six years ago and have been close friends ever since.

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What was it like growing up in LA as a first-generation Mexican American?

Alina: I grew up in Huntington Beach, [the community here is] very white. Growing up I was tanner, and I didn't shave my arms... I remember in sixth-grade boys would make fun of me and be like, ‘Ew, you have a moustache’ or ‘your arms are hairy.’ So I had a hard time. I got called beaner and wetback a lot. I hated growing up in Huntington. I felt like I couldn't embrace who I was up until I finally strayed away [from] the social norm of where I grew up.

 

Mara: I grew up in a super traditional Mexican house. […] My mom is in love with God… [so] she dragged me to church and used to have [me and my siblings] pray at night. My mom looked out for us and she got us through some of the worst years all by herself. She'd have food on the table, she did everything without a husband. She was super strict but has the kindest soul. We were in and out of shelters a lot because we had to get away from my dad. He's the main reason why I wanted to get into drug and alcohol counselling.

 

Do you personally identify with the term Chicano or Mexican American?

Mara: For me, it's a mix of both. Because I do have my really Mexican side [of the] family, and then I have my other side where they're Chicano. [The Chicano side] dress the same way I do [and] they associate with the same people. I know the Mexican side looks down on the other side [because] they don't see things the way we do and we don't see things the way they do. The Mexican side judges [the way I dress], just because they’d rather me dress like a pretty little Mexican girl… they want me to wear my botas, my tight blue jeans and my big belt. But that's not me. So, I associate more with my Chicano side, but I do have my Mexican side.

 

Alina: [My dad’s relationship] with his dad was so hard for him that he didn't want to share that side with his kids. I barely know anything about my grandpa because my dad likes to keep it that way. Growing up my dad would wear baggy pants, Cortezes… most of my style inspirations is from him. But now you see him [wearing] white Old Navy shirts and cargo pants. He'll see me and my little sister […dressed] in our Cortez with our Dickies and he judges us. I feel more accepted into Hispanic or Chicano culture than I do my Filipino side. On my Filipino side, I'm too white, on my Italian side I'm too dark… but I don't speak Spanish, so I can't be Mexican. I don't really know my history [or] my roots like everyone else… my dad has never wanted to share that. So, it's been difficult.

 

How would you describe your style? Does your heritage influence it?

Alina: What influences my style is looking back at old pictures of [my parents] and how they dressed. Growing up [my dad] dressed more like his Hispanic side. He would wear baggy cords [pants] with an initial belt and a white t-shirt with a flannel or he'd wear his basketball shorts with high socks and slides. Dickies and Cortez aren’t strictly for one person, but [they are] part of the Chicano culture... [If] I wear something that’s more towards my culture, like my initial necklace or Cortezes, [I’m] representing who I am [and] I'm a lot about wanting to show that and not be scared. The riots that happened in Huntington Beach over the last summer were very ‘white pride’ and I'm not about that. I work in downtown Huntington Beach and when they were doing all of the protests, I remember I could not go anywhere by myself, [it] was scary. [But now] when I go to work, or I'm walking around my area, I love to show who I am and that I'm not scared.

 

Mara: Those riot in Huntington Beach sucked. We'd be walking and the way we dress is completely different [so] we'd get stared at…

 

Alina: That was scary for us. That we have to even think about that is messed up. The fact that we're like, ‘If I wear Dickies or Cortez, am I going to get jumped or judged because of my choice in style?’

 

Mara: We're open about the way we dress; I don't care I'll wear hoops as big as my head. [But] people do have different perceptions on how we look.

 

Alina: When I first started to get more into the style that I'm comfortable in, my stepmom [would be] like, ‘You're not even fully Mexican. Why are you dressing like that?’ And my dad would be like, ‘Why are you and your sister dressed like gang members…’ I'm sorry that you think Cortez in Dickies correlates to gangs, which is what, unfortunately, everyone thinks. But it's not like that. You're just expressing your culture.

 

Mara: People take the way we dress in a lot of different ways. I have the classic Reeboks, the classic Cortez, Air Maxes, Air Forces. If I can wear my Dickies, [or] my giant Pro Club sweats, I will. I'm more comfortable in loose-fitting clothes. I grew up seeing my brothers wear the same clothes. My first pair of Dickies I ever [had] was my brother's old pair. My mom would always force me to wear skirts or dresses. I used to have to hide clothes in my backpack and I'd leave my house early, run to school, and change in the bathroom. I keep it more original [Chicana], and Alina is goth Chicana.

 

Alina: [Chicano] culture is definitely an inspiration for [my] fashion choices and also 80s and 90s goth. I love looking at Teen Angels mags too... the hair and their makeup is a huge inspiration. [But] I'm mostly Chicano style. Recently our friend Leah passed away, she was a photographer, she would always want to set up shoots with us to go in her zines... She is definitely someone who influenced me style-wise. She made me feel more comfortable wearing baggy pants and jerseys.

 

Do you think the term Chicano has evolved? If so, how?

Mara: I think it's definitely changed. We are the new generation, [and] it's being kept alive, but people are adding their own twist to it. Like Alina, she's a goth Chicana. I don't think it matters how you represent it, as long as you're not representing it in a negative way. The OGs say they enjoy seeing how the younger people are keeping the style and the whole culture alive. But you have the Chicanos that represent it proudly, and then there are the ones that make us look bad. But overall, Chicano culture has changed. Back then to be a Chicano you had to be gang-related… the culture was a lot stricter. My man [is] 26 right now, he grew up in South Central LA, he was telling me how you [couldn’t] wear certain shoes in certain places. In his barrio [neighbourhood] they [could] only wear Converse, if they saw anybody with Cortezes [they’re] going to get popped. Nowadays, it's a lot more laid back. [Also] they’re a lot more open to LGBTQ+ now. Back then if you [were] gay you couldn’t wear Dickies, you couldn’t look Chicano. Over the years people are becoming more accepting of LGBTQ+. Now you see openly gay cholos, you can see two gangsters making out [and] nobody's going to say anything. It's a new era.

 

Alina: I definitely agree. Since I didn't really have a huge upbringing in the culture, and I've just recently gotten into it in the last five years, I don't feel like I have too much room to talk about if I think [the term] is changing, but I agree with Mara [on] how the OGs appreciate that we're keeping this part of the culture alive.

 

What is a common misconception you think people have of Chicanos or the Latinx community?

Mara: I would say, gang relation with Chicano culture. If me and my man get pulled over, we're automatically getting our car searched. Just because of the way we look and the way we dress. People have a lot of assumptions and feelings about the culture. They will take their interpretations into it [and] you're going to get judged based off what they think they know about the culture, or what's being portrayed in movies. The news makes Mexicans, Latinx and Chicanos look like we're a problem to society. People don't understand that the culture is not all violence, it's not all gang-related, it's not all drugs and cartels and guns. It's about being a family. Once you're in, you're in and it's por vida [for life]. What brings us [Chicanos] together is that we all want to see each other win.

 

Alina: I feel like America is very judgmental, maybe I'm just thinking of white America. There have been instances where I've been with Mara and we've gotten questioned and it's just like, ‘What are we doing wrong?’

 

What are some traditions you partake in or want to learn more about as a Mexican American?

Mara: Before I did psychology I was in school for mechanics. I love classic cars. I like working on them. I want to only work on old school cars, [because cars] are becoming newer and electrical [and] they're not going come out with lowriders that are electric you know? It's going to end up dying at some point because people aren't going to want to pay and do the work on the car. So that's definitely one of the things [that] I'm never going to let die. We [also] used to go out to this thing called ‘Night of the Blaxican.’ It’s by three friends that wanted to throw parties like they used to in the 90s. It's a place for people like us who love the culture. You get people from different places and cultures coming together for the love of the same type of music and it's not just Chicano pride, it's Black pride, Asian pride. People will bring their low riders… it's just one big space for everybody to come.

 

Alina: [In] Chicano culture they're very ancestral, they know a lot about their history and roots and where they're from, and I would love to be able to explore more of that.

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Genai was born and raised in El Sereno, where her family has lived for years, making her the fourth generation born in the US. The 20-year-old is currently a part-time art history student and works for Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs at a youth art centre. She is also a freelance model.

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As a fourth generation Mexican American, do you feel identified the term Chicana?

It's hard for me to identify with just one thing. My mom's side of the family is Japanese and Mexican, my dad's [side is] fully Mexican. Being fourth generation, a lot of the time [the] first generation won't recognize you as being truly Mexican or Latino. Because I don't speak Spanish and I don't necessarily have the same traditions… Then again, I'm not fully Japanese. So, I've always felt not fully recognized by either. That's always been hard for me. But now, it's been nice to share the struggle with identity that I had growing up because I know that other people are dealing with the same thing. I don't necessarily identify myself as one label because then I'm not truly representing all the parts of myself.

 

What was it like growing up as a person of Mexican and Japanese descent in the US?

I'm not ashamed of who my family is and [what] we do. I've always had really good food at every family gathering [laughs]. But it was definitely hard because even my friends would label me. They'd be like, ‘Oh, you're whitewashed,’ or they would say certain things which totally disregarded my feelings. But LA [has] every culture you can ever imagine. [And] that's amazing because although I struggled and people didn't understand it sometimes or didn't allow me to recognize who I was, I've been able to find people that can relate.

 

How do you stay in touch with the different sides of your heritage?

My mom is good [with] that because she went through the same struggles. My parents run a Musubi company, which is Hawaiian street food because the Japanese side of my mom's family has ties in Hawaii. They combine their Mexican culture with Japanese and Hawaiian food. Food has always been a way for me to further tie myself to the different parts of me and to learn more about [them]. You learn about where the food came from and why it's significant and what it means to your family. [Also,] my parents’ ability to acknowledge that we don't fit into one box [helped me]. We are who we are, and it's okay to embrace that and start a whole business around it to provide that same comfort back to the community.

 

Does your culture influence your style?

We're a product of what we've seen growing up. I grew up in predominantly Latino communities… You always see people in oversized clothes, going to the 5-for-10 t-shirt place and buying Pro-Clubs [t-shirts] and AAA shirts. That's where my dad would take me, and I still go to those places. So yes, Chicano culture and Latino style definitely impacted the way I dress. I also love Japanese streetwear, the big silhouettes, and the simplicity. So, everything compiled together made me style myself the way I do.

 

How would you describe your style?

I always tell people it's the elevated basics. I think a lot of us are taught you can create something out of nothing. I've been thrifting my whole life. My mom would take me to the thrift store and let me pick out my outfits. The 5-for-10 t-shirt store, that's where you get your jeans, your Dickies, your plain t-shirts, and sweaters. [The] swap meet [market] is where you get your slippers [and] jewellery. [And I buy from] my friends, and small businesses, of course, because they're more personal and have an understanding of the community and what the average person like me wants. I love Bricks & Wood, Paisa Boys, Product of LA, Bella Doña and Nature World, those are [the] main ones that I'm always looking at and shopping from.

 

Would you say the term Chicano have evolved or changed over time?

It's definitely evolved. The older generations use the term Chicano or Chicanx but I don't necessarily use that term when describing people. I was working with [a brand during] Chicano Heritage Month. We were talking about the idea that ‘Chicano’ wouldn't necessarily represent everyone, or people wouldn't feel comfortable with that term. And of course, we got backlash from older generations or people that don't necessarily see the shift that's happening. To my generation, I feel like Chicano is moving out and Latinx is moving in. Everyone has their own reasons as to why one thing works, and one thing doesn't. But at least [for] the communities that I involve myself in and the people that I surround myself with, Latinx is the general term that is widely used, not only when we're describing ourselves, but when we're describing our friends and people in the community. It's more inclusive to everybody.

 

What is a misconception people have of Latinxs?

With any ethnicity, there's an expectation of who we are supposed to be. What we see [on] TV, it's a lot of lighter people of the community. Then, the main thing from what I've seen, and who's represented in media is that we're fiery, we are exotic, or we have to have big hips and a big butt. All these things that I don't have. There's this expectation of what it means to be a beautiful Latina [and] [it’s] very damaging. I have [a] straight little square body and a big nose, and these things aren't highlighted as much. So, there's a lot of expectation around what the ideal beauty standard is for us. People with darker skin aren't as appreciated and it goes back to the idolization of Eurocentric features. I think predominantly with women there's a very miscued idea of who we are and what we're supposed to be.

 

What are some traditions you partake in or have adapted as a fourth-generation Japanese Mexican American?

Day of the Dead became important to me after my grandpa passed. Before that, I hadn't really dealt with loss personally. Being able to make my own altar […] became a way for me to honour him. I have a little altar in my room where I have my tias [aunts] and my grandpa, all the people that meant so much to me. It became a way for me to remember them and do all of these things that I wouldn't necessarily have done if it wasn't for the integration of that holiday into my life at a higher level of importance than before. I found its purpose, and placement in my life in a way that I feel represents my spirituality.

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Veco was raised in Southeast LA surrounded by a strong Latinx community. His parents, who were born in Guanajuato, moved to the US when they were in their 20s, making him a first-generation Mexican American. He grew up in a very traditional Mexican household, which made coming out to his parents complicated. But currently, at 30-years old, they have a great relationship. He has a 9-to-5 job and also works as a model.

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Do you personally identify with the term Chicano?

I don't really associate myself with the Chicano term. I had Chicano studies classes in college to learn more about it, but I didn't feel like it pertained to me specifically, although I knew it was an umbrella term. I never felt like I would say, ‘Oh, I'm Chicano,’ not that I would judge someone that did. I don't have a specific reason, [but] I've never used that term for myself or heard my family members use it. I just never felt connected to the term if I can be completely honest. I use Latino, Latinx or even just Mexican sometimes. As far as the community where I come from, Southeast LA, I don't think we use ‘Chicano’ often, and I might be completely wrong, [but] growing up I didn't use Chicano.

 

What was it like growing up in LA as a first-generation Mexican American?

Growing up it did feel like I'm not from there and I'm not from here. There's a saying that [goes], ‘ni de aqui, ni de alla,’ [neither from here nor there] you're in the middle. But I think it's beautiful to feel that way because you see the differences and you learn to appreciate the sacrifices that your family has made for you. My mom was very strict on us not speaking English, or [she would say], ‘Be humble, no te creas la muy muy  [don’t think you are better] just because you're from the US.’ I went to Huntington Park High, so the majority [of students were] Latinos. There was always Spanish [being spoken], [and] definitely Spanglish. It was comforting knowing that I didn't need to only speak in English. As an adult, in the workplace, when [it’s] more white people, to this day I still feel awkward sometimes. I'm just [thinking], ‘Oh god. Do I fit in? Am I saying this word correctly?’ But I think it's amazing that our families migrated, [went] against the odds and still thrive. That's always the takeaway, even if you mispronounce something in English.

 

What is a common misconception you think people have of the Latinx community?

People assume that it only pertains to people from [Mexico]. The misconception would be that it's only geared to Mexicans or Mexican heritage. [But] it's a broader spectrum. I think the beauty of it is that it involves everybody, it's [inclusive].

 

What are some traditions you partake in or have modernised as a first-generation Mexican American?

One that I want to do is make Posadas for the holidays. When I was a kid that's one thing my family would do and I loved them, even if I hated the rosary reading part. Just being together, the fireworks, the streamers and tamales. I would love to make a vegan version of a tamal, un chocolate abuelita [hot chocolate]. One thing that I'm looking forward to is learning how to make like tamales [like] my tia [aunt] and my mom make.

 

How would you describe your style and does your heritage influence it?

‘Tio looks with tia vibes’ [uncle looks with aunt vibes]. I love an oversized flowy shirt, I love a low cut, [showing] the skin a little bit, but also being classy and a gentleman. A lot of my styling and pieces that I wear or things that I choose to decorate my house with, have references to my past… seeing my cousins dress up with their baggy jeans. I secretly idolized them. But felt like I couldn't dress that way because I felt different. I think the way I dress [is influenced by] the male figures in my life growing up. But [I also grew] up with a lot of, feminine energy around me, so that's where I get my confidence and my strength from. So I look like a tio [uncle], [and] I love to be the tia [aunt] you didn't have. I'm proud that I can embrace both my feminine and my masculine side and not feel like I have to choose.