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.
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
Do not steal a smile from the night,
Do not tell me what you think
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
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.
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