English 3060J Women and Writing
1 March 2012
[Insert Label Here] Imagine the following: Hispanic and Caucasian women. What was your initial thought? What image first popped up in your head when you envisioned these ethnicities? Perhaps when thinking of a Caucasian woman you imagined a young, pre-pubescent white teenager with acne and an awkward figure that makes them look disproportional. Or, more commonly, you thought of the tall, fair skinned, blue-eyed blonde that is perfectly symmetrical and is plastered across every American magazine. What, however, was the first picture that appeared while envisioning a Hispanic woman? Did the image of a small, dark-complected, petite female appear in your head? Or did the exotic woman with long, wavy hair, perfectly bronzed skin, and voluptuous curves capture your imagination? Maybe these exact descriptions do not match what your first thoughts were, but I guarantee that they were on the edge. No matter how much of a saint you think you are, you judge people. Not only do you judge people, you judge surroundings, cultures, beliefs, families, clothing; everything but what you are familiar with. The real question that lies beneath all of that judging, and all of those images is a question that every person will undoubtedly ask themselves within their lifetime: "Who am I?". You may not directly say to yourself that, but you will convey it through your actions in life. For some, it may take no time at all to be able to identify themselves as an individual. In others cases, it may take years. In the two readings, "La Perdida", by Jessica Abel, and "The Story of My Body", by Judith Ortiz Cofer, you tag alongside two females with two very different, yet two very similar journeys in discovering both their identity, and the identity of beauty.
One huge similarity that the two readings share is that both of the main characters, Carla and the protagonist from "The Story of My Body", is that they make a huge move from one country to another. Carla sets off in hopes of getting more in touch with her Mexican heritage. In her eyes she is not a true Mexican because she did not grow up in the states and is a "crunchy ethnic wannabe" (La Perdida, pg. 13). Carla struggles immensely with cultural identity. Yet, whose fault is it that her struggle is such? On page 20 she is talking about how Frida is her ideal woman, but she faces obstacles when it comes to being like her. "Not being Mexican, for another", is a reasoning she proclaims that she is unable to be like Frida. To continue, Carla says that growing up in Mexico is what counts in order to be seen as a 'true' Mexican. These putdowns and accusations are put on herself, making her the colonizer and Mexico the colonized. By going in to the country with an attitude of self-doubt and not being able to identify herself, Carla repetitively sets herself up for failure. For example, every relationship that she first builds off of a positive basis she ends up destroying with nobody's fault but her own. Take her friendship with Sylvia- starts of great because they both have similar interests in Frida, and then in the long run Carla is too stubborn to admit she is wrong, smashing the friendship. Carla struggles with a deeper identity problem than the protagonist in "The Story of My Body" because she seeks out people who tear her down. Instead of standing up to those that stereotype her as an American, she hides behind others. When she and Sylvia meet Memo she lets Sylvia stand up for her and lets Memo walk all over her. Then later she becomes friends with Memo even though he continues to call her names such as "communist". Carla never truly finds herself in Mexico because she lets people get in her head, instead of controlling her own mind.
In "The Story of My Body", the main character has sort of an opposite experience with finding her true self; her inner beauty. Her entire life in Puerto Rico "her relatives called