Flaca: A Feminist Meditation on the Body

By Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez @priscadorcas

In my context, existen cosas que no se dicen, que no se hablan, que nos las llevamos hasta la muerte.  I keep alot of stuff in because: eso no se dice. But alas, here I am writing about yet another flaw of my cultura, as it has been inherited to me.

I work hard every day to undo the shame that my
cultura has taught me about my body.

Here I am, grown and still struggling with my ED (eating disorder).  You see, in our cultura, the first thing that will come out of someone’s mouth will be a commentary on our bodies.  Especially if someone has not seen you for a hot minute, they feel particularly entitled to say something about what they perceive about their body.  They will say: te vez flaca or you look great!  But this is always telling me how I look in relation to mainstream Americanized standards of thinness.  

Recently, one of my aunts came to visit my mother.  She visited and as soon as she saw me she said: estas mas gruesa!  Gruesa, like the width of a tire or the circumference of a bear: gruesa.  

And I stood there in shock because my feminism has taught
me a lot about horizontal violence and the ways in which we
ourselves perpetuate problematic shit onto other women,
which essentially is rooted in a deep deep lack of analysis of
our own self-hatred. One example is that cousin, who is having
sex with her novio, and then staunchly regulates and polices
the sexuality of her sisters and fellow cousins. The violence
she experiences has to do with shame around our sexuality and
our sexual appetite, which is passed down to
women. This shame translates to her own need to shame
other people for doing the very thing she is doing, but
intentionally or not, perpetuating the narratives that police
women’s sexuality without questioning that very concept.
But I digress

So here I stood in shock, looking at my very beautiful and voluptuous tia telling me that my body was the problem.  I had three immediate thoughts run through my head: 

Should I insult her back?  I come from the hood, and if you shame someone you are asking to be shamed, so I knew that I could say something back BUT I would be perpetuating the same problem of body shaming instead of correcting the situation.

Should I call her out?  I also think it is important to tell your elders when their “old school” mentalities are actually wrong and need to be corrected.  But in my veins run deep the old saying: respeta a lxs adultxs.  So that instinct reined me in this reaction and the aforementioned.

Should I go to a mirror and immediately see what she saw?  This is actually what happened, and this is actually what has happened my entire life.  

I do not have many memories of me hating my body that do not have a direct link to someone telling me I should hate my body minutes prior.  I have also never gone to get help for my eating disorder, because eso no se dice.  But I have also always known that I have a complicated relationship to food and an even more complicated relationship to mirrors and my own reflection after eating.  But growing up poor and growing up brown means that access to the kind of psychological care that we desperately need is overlooked.  So as an adult I manage it, because I learned to manage it as a kid.  I do not tell people about it, except partners (who pick up on it all pretty quickly).

Even today as I started to write this, I cringed, because eso no se dice.  But I know that I need to talk about this thing that hurts to live with, but it hurts more people when we continue to avoid talking about it.  Also, our learned self-hatred is not our fault and breaking our silence comes first and foremost. I am a strong Nicaraguan female immigrant, and still, when I hear someone refer to me as flaca I feel good because flaca is one of the compliments to be given in most Latin American contexts, and this is fucked up.  

My name is Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez and
I work hard every day to undo the shame that my
cultura has taught me about my body.


Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is a chonga Mujerista from Managua, Nicaragua currently living in Miami, FL. She recently graduated with her Masters from Vanderbilt University, and is looking to take some much needed time off to refresh. She is also the founder of Latina Rebels, a blogger for HuffPo Latino Voices, and a columnist/editor at Chica Magazine. Her interests are within biopolitics as it relates to Latina embodiment, specifically concerning models of conquerable flesh around narratives of naturalization for women of color. Thus her work is around reclaiming and upholding embodied resistance, particularly within chonga and chola subcultures. Que viva la mujer!

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