Chola chic: the legend of a princess from the wrong side of town

posted by on 2011.07.02, under art and design, casualty
02:

There was once a chola so fine that it made all the vatos stand up every time she walked by, she just did it right.

The word Cholo and Chola started as an ethnic slur created by Hispanic criollos in the 16th century,  it was originally applied to the children resulting from the union of a Mestizo and an Amerindian; that is, someone of three quarters Amerindian and one quarter Spanish ancestry.

A chola is a firme hyna latina that wears a lot of makeup: thick eyeliner, liquid eyeliner on top going out of your eye dark brown or red lipstick and eyebrows drawn on or really thin.

When it comes to chola makeup, more is more.  Some of the looks cholas pull off require a high degree of cosmetic artistry. I like to think of chola-style makeup as a somewhat extreme amplification of how we perceive feminine beauty, that is, everything is bigger, shinier, sexier than how it could ever be possible naturally.

Their hair is mostly  permed with Hella gel or straight and arched on top. They generally have Mexican inspired tatoos which depict their cultural background, family member, religious beliefs and life in the barrio.  They are an integral part of the lowrider culture:  (the Lowrider is the predecessor to just about every car makeover show on cable TV.)

 We kick it with people in our own barrio and not really claiming a color mainly your raza. (Brown Pride) or (Barrio) we wear baggy or tight cloths and Nike cortez shoes.

The cultural influence of the Chola within the modern urban setting dates back to the 1940′s  and the Zoot Suit riots, which defined a cultural shift in Los Angeles and the affirmation of the Latino way of life within the fiber of the community. That 1940′s sensibility remains influential today in the dress and make up of the Cholas.

I remember Living  close to South Central L.A. back in 1976 and seeing the Vatos and their Cholas in their supt up Impala Chevys Low riders, They looked fierce.  It was before Rap had taken over and back then they were the influential sub-culture icons that inspired a generation of white boys and girls wanting to dress and look like them.

Singers such as Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Kasha and JLo have cited the chola look as a fashion influence. Tattoo artist  and glamor model Kat Von D has also mentioned that her style of make-up was influenced by the chola look….and yes, Cher is a chola and so is Eva Mendes.

The 2009 film La Mission starring Benjamin Bratt and his real life partner Talisa Soto, is an authentic representation of the style, language, cars and music associated with the Cholo culture.  After the heavy police crack down and racial stereotyping of the late 1990′s it  sparked a revival and a new wave of cholas became glamour models and icons for a whole new generation of girls not only from the Barrios but also from Suburbia everywhere. 

Artist and Chola activist Mayra Ramirez, from Oakland, Northern Cali who edits a blog about the chola lifestyle  called: Hella Breezy http://breezycrew.blogspot.com/. Is a postive role model for girls wanting to embrace that particular look and lifestyle.

In its very essence  the Chola mystique  is captured in the mythical story of the Aztec princess Iztaccíhuatl who died of grief from the falsely proclaimed news (gossip) that her lover Popocatépetl had been killed in battle. It is this tragic gene that like a tear tattooed on the side of her eye distinguishes the Chola and gives her  gravitas and a sense of misplaced identity.

CHOLITA

After a long absence,

I came back to your dreams

I came back to watch your

Black and white soap operas.

What happened to the sunlight?

What happened to your life?

You buried your brushes

Under a piece of sky,

Tattooed a Christ on your

Left breast and had me

Feed your tarantula.

From the Sears catalogue

Came your child,

My desire was now a cab fair

There and back.

What happened to your life?

What happened to the sun?

I am trying to keep this dam vinyl

From sticking to my ass.

Trying to keep cool in a black

Turtleneck…in the middle of summer,

But I have been up since a quarter

To four and I am down to my last

Pill for the day.

I cannot see you behind your painted

Eyebrows, I cannot feel you

Sitting still underneath

The Che Guevara and the Christ.

This passion made of words and

Refried beans, this sadness

Heavy like lead in the stomach

Bitter and old,

Smelling of blood frying in steel pans,

What can I do with it?

I have nothing for you, nothing

To give.

Do not steal a smile from the night,

Do not tell me what you think

Is right.

Do not borrow words

From a song and tell me:

Such is life.

Your Island painted pink and blue

Where you come to: shipwrecked

And drunk is that your take on life?

The mother you buried along with

The pit bull is that your essence of being?

Cholita, Cholita linda, sad face, tiny

Hands cupping water from the faucet,

Cry for none.

Cross yourself before cashing your check,

Come and shaven like a child offer me

Your sensitive side, the one you call

Sugar sweet, candy apple red,

Caramel coated and all.

Set a place for me at the table,

Give me some money and send me out

For beer.

Crawl out from under the storm drain

Free the animals…,

Let them loose outside in the rain.

Count your blessing and collect

Your fears like butterflies in a glass.

I will see you through

The spring when

The sweet bread hardens in the sun

And time stings you like a thorn.

After that I will be gone.

16 Spill The Wine (Junior Vasquez 1

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