Selena is the ultimate Latinx Queen. Not only did she dominate the music scene with her unique voice and iconic style, but she also did so while honoring her Mexican roots. Here's how she became such a huge style icon.
Of all the artists I grew up watching, Selena was probably the one who inspired me the most. I was only five years old when she died, and it was the first time I learned what despair and sorrow meant. I know this might sound really over the top, but she was truly my hero, someone I looked up to. As I grew up, I found other role models in music, but I kept listening to her songs. Not long ago, I began to wonder where my childhood fixation with Selena came from. Perhaps it was the fact that her public persona became more iconic and present after she died, or just mere curiosity as to who she really was. However, after years and years of loving Selena, I finally got to understand why I admired her so much. The answer is simple: Selena was one of the few women in positions of power who got there by embracing their Latin American identity and heritage. She was someone I could see myself in and who proved that you can make it with determination, strength, and a unique personality.
Many claim that Selena was just a product meant for a population that didn’t have any mainstream figures to look up to. Her critics used to say that her style and public image were all carefully planned. And you know what? Perhaps they’re right, but we can’t deny that this fashion icon with a bubbly personality left a huge mark in millions of people. Many people around the world found a role model in Selena – people like that five-year-old girl who sang her heart out to her music while she recreated her outfits with her mom’s scarves. No other Latinx figure had ever done that before: to inspire people to be their true selves. What is interesting is how she created and shaped that persona, not only through music, but also through her bold and iconic fashion style.
Selena was always true to herself no matter what. Though her father, who happened to be her manager as well, took care of almost everything in order to get her to the top of the industry, there was something he had no power over: her fashion. Through her costumes and outfits, which she designed herself, she developed a visionary style that would characterize her. She became the queen of crop tops, bustiers, and leggings, items that we still use to this day. Why was this so cool? Because in a time and culture dominated by men that dictated how women should present themselves in public, she went against outdated conventions, went with her gut, wore whatever she liked, and became revolutionary.
Selena was well aware that music wasn't enough to make it to the top; she had to create a symbol. Before Selena, there had been other singers who were rocking the Tex-Mex scene. She knew she had to offer something different to make her way in a music genre dominated by men. Unlike most of these musicians who stuck to Tex-Mex culture, Selena decided to break the mold of Southern-Texas culture and appeal to the roots that had earned her a place in music: her Mexican heritage. She knew that if she won the Mexican audience, she could go further and reach other Latin American audiences, which she did.
If you pay close attention, most of her outfits give a nod to Mexican traditions, culture, and colors. This really smart move made her stand out from what other female stars in the American scene were doing and positioned her as a unique figure in showbiz who conquered the world. Her bedazzled and colorful outfits, always accompanied by that bold red lip and sharp cat eye, were soon imitated by millions all over the world who wanted to look like that alluring yet grounded star.
One of the greatest beauty lessons we can learn from Selena is to always be true to yourself, to embrace, and to love who you are. In a time when ultra skinny bodies were the goal, she went against beauty standards and invited us to follow her lead. She inspired us to appreciate our curves and the color of our skin. And, though her life was brief, it didn’t stop her from becoming one of the greatest musical and cultural phenomena in modern history. And, as we’ve seen in recent years, that light and effervescent personality won’t fade anytime soon.
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