Welcome to WEEK 12 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama!

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? I interviewed myself to mark my year anniversary as Latina Magazine’s Dimelo Advice Columnist right before Lorraince C. Ladish made me look  bad in last week

s interview by referring to books I pretended to read in high school.  Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’s featured Chingona is …Elisa Camahort Page.

Camahort Page is a BlogHer co-couner  and, amongst other honors, was also a Fortune Most Powerful Entrepreneurs, 2013.

And now? It’s time for the interview!

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Elisa Camahort Psge

Elisa Camahort Psge

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Elisa Camahort Page: Vanilla

PC:  A straight-shooter. I like it. Favorite book and why:

ECP: That’s a tough one, I love many books. Perhaps Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer had the most impact because it articulated a philosophy I already subscribed to in terms that were relatable to regular people who might not have my same activist fervor on the subject.

Pauline Campos: *blinks* My IQ just developed a complex. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

ECP: YES.

PC: There’s that straight-shootin’ again. I like a woman who tells it like it is. Who inspires you?

ECP: The BlogHer community inspires me every day. Every day *someone* tells an amazing story, does something incredibly brave, makes real change in their life, their community, or the world. It’s crazy actually. Crazy how much talent and passion are out there…this despite the regular conventional wisdom proclaiming the death of the very blogging that creates that inspiration.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

 ECP: The BlogHer community has so many new folks still flooding into this space every day. I hope to inspire them to do social media and blogging *their* way. There is no one right way. There is no single one-size-fits-all approach. There is so much opportunity…knowing what you want to grab from that grab bag is important.

PC: I was just gong to say “Anything dipped in chocolate” but I think that you’ve got a T-shirt quote somewhere in that last one. Lemme have my coffee first… Do you dream in color or black and white?

 ECP: I don’t remember, actually. Why, do you know what that means?

PC: Not a single clue. Also? I should Google that one so I have a slightly smarter answer the next time a featured Chingona throws this one back in my court. Speaking bad words redfined… Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

 ECP: Huh? You’re the chica who introduced me to the term :)

PC: ummmm… *blinks slowly* Well? The short answer is DON’T SAY CHINGONA IN CHURCH. Also, it’s probably not a good idea to yell the word out randomly in public, ‘being as I like you, and and all. Also, did you know “pinche” is a bad word in Mexican Spanish but means “barette” in Chilean Spanish? You’re *welcome*. Why are you giving me the side-eye? Focus, Woman! Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

ECP: Not applicable…no kids :)

 PC: Fair enough. Do you feel “Latina enough”? 

ECP: Definitely not. I don’t even call myself Latina, although I will say I’m Hispanic. But, for example, I never learned Spanish…I think when I was growing up there was a lot more assumption that immigrants would assimilate and less expectations that their children would retain any culture. Add on top of that my family is a mixed family originating from Spanish immigrants to the Philippines. So much of my connection to the culture is through food…which was actually kind of a mix of Spanish and Filipino. And being spanked with a slipper…which I think is more of the Asian side of that equation ;)

PC: Don’t take this the wrong way, Elisa, but we gotta talk. Because every Mexican reading this just choked and simultaneously yelled out “LA CHANCLA”! Anyway, you have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON? 

ECP: Stephen Sondheim. Why? Because I’m a #theatrenerd and he is completely brilliant and my idol.

PC: You are totally smarter than a fifth grader, aren’t you? *runs off to Google the name the smart lady just said* Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

EC: That is definitely just a you thing.

PC: Admit it. You think I’m adorable, don’t you? Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?

 ECP: Oh, I guess it’s the whole kit and caboodle…fiery Latinas, sexy Latinas, spicy Latinas…and then there’s the indomitable Latina matriarch. The problem with any stereotype is that it ignores the diversity within diversity. That Latinas are not a monolithic bloc, just as women aren’t, just as no group is like the Borg.

PC: You win the Internet for using the Borg to bring that last point home, Elisa. *High five* Describe your perfect day.

 EC: Well, it would start with actually getting a full night’s sleep #damnyouinsomnia. Then I would probably chillax with my cat and my iPad full of all the books I never have time to read. I’d be playing music. And my S.O. could join for a couple of great meals of #vegan food!

PC: One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

 ECP: Yeah, in case it wasn’t clear, not very into embracing stereotypes :)

PC (grinning):  Nope…everything is crystal…

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Girlfriend needed a reality check…so I gave her one.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

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Just call me Pollyanna…

 Who like Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

 


The littlest #Chingona (and the reason for the hashtag). Don’t worry, it’s already gone to her head.

 

 

I grew up in the burbs with my (very stereotypically) large family being the only interaction I had with Mexicans not standing on the other side of the looking glass. If you had a tan and an accent, you must be related to me. Respect for our elders drilled into our heads since birth had us referring to any adult our parents’ age or older as Tia or Tio, which, quite honestly, only confused us even more.

Suffice it to say, sometimes I forgot I wasn’t white. The moments were few and fleeting, but they were there. And they were obvious. As a 15-year-old, I nervously told my dad about the cute boy at work who asked me on a date and my father simply replied by asking what he was.  Italian and French-Canadian, I told him. My dad looked at me. “So he’s white.” It wasn’t a question. It took me a minute, y’all. I just stood there blinking until I realized that Oh RIGHT…I’m not.

Or whenever there’s family drama and I’m mad-texting BFF Mel about whatever wedding, milestone party, or funeral (generally the trifecta of Latin Commandments for Your Ass Had Better Be Showing Up No Matter How Much the Plane Ticket is) her response to my And then She Said’s is usually a tired yawn and a sleepy giggle. Then she asks me why we bother to put ourselves in those situations to begin with.

“When white people don’t like each other, we just don’t talk to the people we don’t like,” she said during a trip home for a wedding a few years back. “It’s hard to feel sorry for you, babe.” I gotta admit, I really didn’t have a snappy comeback. It’s hard when what she said made so much sense. Not only had we walked right into a stressful situation willingly, we paid a whole lotta money to do it because doing otherwise had never even occurred to us.

And there it was again: Not White. See Also: White People Veggies, a crazy-good side-dish consisting solely of California Blend veggies baked with a metric ton of Italian dressing, which Mel served up to the obviously easily impressed.)  If looking up cultural dictates in a dictionary, the See Also would include additional il’ bits ‘o’ wisdom like:

  •  Spanglish Guilt Trips are legendary. See Also: Final scenes in Real Women Have Curves.
  •  The fact that your Abuelo’s dog was named Come Cuando Aye is actually still funny to you as the grownup who refers to her dogs as her furbabies, mainly because you know your Guelo loved that dog.
  •  You’re birthday parties as a kid weren’t themed, didn’t have balloons, and no one needed an invite because the guest list is made up of people who’ve been grounded with you or used to change your diapers.
  •  You were raised to say “Todo esta Bien” (even when it isn’t) when anyone asks how you happen to be esta-ing, especially if we swap our normally Whatever Guacamole (read: fork plus salt plus avocado = done!) with the fancy version with cilantro and pico de gallo whenever they come over for dinner.
  •  Never speak publicly about that which is better saved for the Sweeping Under the Rug thing. Except for that family wedding you’re going to next week. Everybody knows the bride is pregnant and everyone will continue to nod and smile when the baby is born six months early, weighing 8 lbs, and give Gracias to Dios for miracles such as this one.
  •  Family comes first. Always. And family means everybody your Anglo buddies usually refer to as extended family.

I love my cultural identity — hyphen and all — because I am as American as I am Mexican (and both by my own definition, thank you very much), but I’m also a realist in the sense that I am not afraid to address the good with the bad, which in this case, oftentimes just means outdated thinking. As a first generation Mexican-American, I was raised to keep my thoughts to myself and put the feelings of La Familia over my own. Considering the emotional baggage I’ve been packing since childhood, I’d say that line of thinking didn’t turn out so well. Remember, I’m the girl who responded to my now-husband’s pre-engagement request for my choice in band color for my ring by telling him to get me yellow gold, not because I liked it, but because that’s what my family wore.

Maybe things wouldn’t have changed if we hadn’t moved from out of state, removing us from the familial (and related self-imposed) pressures. but they did change because we didn’t stay. Removed from the filtered reality I grew up in, I was wide-eyed and full of wonder when I started to realize the freedom and purpose that come with thinking for myself. When I became a mother, my daughter’s future became my present-day reminder to raise her to always know what it took so many of us so very long to learn for ourselves.

Tomorrow, (Wednesday, June 25 at 10p.m. EST) we discuss keeping our balance on the hyphen between our two cultures and remind each other that it is entirely possible to honor who we are now while still holding on to where we came from. I’d love to see you join us for the weekly #ChingonaFest twitter party at 10 pm. EST. The hashtag, obviously, is #chingonafest. Don’t roll your eyes at me, y’all. The hashtag may be culturally specific, but the spirit behind it is universal. That means we all get to play together in the sandbox.

Now… rinse, lather, and repeat.

 

 Not-so-fine- Print.

I’m here. I’m just not really here, here. In an attempt to buy myself the illusion that I’m ahead for the next five minutes, what you are about to read was a favorite in the archives. I dressed it up a little and made it Shiny New But Not Really and that’s okay, I think.

In lieu of thanks, just leave a comment at the end. My therapist is begging you.

 

Five Ways to Jump-start Your Platform (or Not)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to resort to drastic measures to increase my writing platform to the size necessary for a publisher to like my writing and think I’m worth a book deal. Seeing as how my current plan for world domination isn’t quite working, I believe it is now time to resort to drastic measures.

Idea #1: I need to rob a bank (and get caught)

Go with me on this one. In my other life, I was a newsroom reporter who somehow always was assigned police beat, business, and those feature stories you read about how another kid was awesome enough to reach Eagle Scout. I’ll tell you right now that every time, it was the asshole who decided to do something Incredibly Stupid and then get himself arrested after tripping and falling over the pants that were already down at their ankles before they started running that always made the front page. Why? Because it’s funny.

People remember funny. People hone in on the funny in a newspaper because the rest of it is usually depressing as hell. So imagine, if you will, me trying to rob a bank and getting away with it. Me, the woman who sprained my ankle making a sandwich and broke my baby toe so many times I’ve lost count. Imagine me making a clean getaway and living the rest of my life in luxury on some remote island I bought myself after carefully putting my loot in the washing machine. That’s not funny.

Living the high-life is not the way to go with this one, y’all.

But if I got caught? The headline would probably read something like Woman Holds Up Bank, Arrested While Fumbling Through Purse for Keys to Getaway Car.

Idea #2: Become a reality TV star

Snooki. Really, do I have to explain this one, people? Didn’t think so.

Moving on…

Idea #3: Become a really popular blogger (Shut up)

Dooce, Scary Mommy, The Bloggess, The Pioneer Woman…the masses flock to their sites, and rightfully so. Hell, I’m a card-carrying member of The Masses, so I know what I’m talking about here. But achieving that level of fame and notoriety and page views and unique visitors would require me to, you know, not be an Unpopular Blogger. And therein lies my dilemma.

Idea #4: Put Some Actual Effort into Building My Online Presence

I really should start to take advantage of the whole world of connections that social media offers with Twitter and the Facebooking and Fan Page Liking and the the Linking on that In thing and the Pinterest and the Instagram and the StumbleUpon and the making sure I always keep my iPhone in my bra as to not miss an opportunity to feed what The Husband now lovingly refers to as The Addiction.

Wait a minute…

Idea #5: Being Famous

As in, for the sake of simply being famous. Like Paris Hilton or Kevin Federline. Or the Kardashian sisters. That kind of fame might not result in interviews on CNN, but it sure as hell feeds the paparazzi hiding in their garbage cans. I’m thinking a few cover shots on The National Enquirer will start to peak the public’s interest. Especially if the Unattractive Cellulite Shot with Black-Barred Face image is of me being led off in cuffs and in an orange jump suit.

Which leads me right back to where I started. If I want to get a book deal, I need to become Paris Hilton’ Bestie just long enough to make her disown me…because I robbed a bank.

 

Welcome to WEEK 11 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama!

 

 

 If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.

 

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Juliana Maulanda and *ahem* … I were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing. 

 

Today’s featured Chingona is ….Lorraine C. Ladish. 

Ladish is a bilingual, published author of 17 books, a mom, and a self-described social media maven. She’s also the sass behind her new site, Viva Fifty.

You can connect with Lorraine on twitter. She doesn’t bite, I promise.

 

And now? It’s time for the interview!

 

 

 

 

 

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Lorraine C. Ladish

Lorraine C. Ladish

 

 

 


 

 

 

Pauline Campos: Favorite book and why?

 

Lorraine C. Ladish: Wuthering Heights. It was one of the first books that I read over and over as a kid and I can still reread and get lost in it. The main character, Kathy, is a rebel, although she does conform for a bit and actually gets sick and dies because of that. I think we all die a little when we conform.

 

 

PC: Thanks for the spoiler there, sweet cheeks. Unless you run into my high school A.P. English teacher. In that case, I *totally* read it. Six times, even. So…What’s your favorite quote?

 

LCL: Just Do It. It’s the way I’ve lived so far, for the most part.

 

 PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

LCL: Yes in the sense that I want equal pay, equal laws, equal opportunities for both men and women. But I also love certain differences between the two genders. I enjoy my femininity and I’m a sucker for a gentleman. 

 

PC: I totally get it. Like my 7-year-old said today, if the world was made up of just Mexicans in America, things would get so BOOORING. I didn’t tell her it would probably have a paleta stand on every street corner, but I thought it. Describe yourself in third person…

 

LCL: I can’t do that! I’m too close to the subject.

 

PC: *Note to future Chingonas, Ladish is sneaky. You, however, get to answer all 15* *AHEM* Who inspires you?

 

LCL: My daughters.

 

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

 

LCL: My kids and women who feel they haven’t achieved their full potential. They can do it. Wait, I also want to inspire myself on a bad day! I don’t always feel as great as it may seem on social media.

 

PC: *Nods head* Totally. Trying to have conversations in 140 characters offline is a surefire way to get tossed in a padded room. Do you dream in color or black and white?

 

LCL: Color, vividly, I remember my dreams every morning and most are pretty trippy. The older I get, the more my dreams are about things that happened in the past.

PC: You’re not old. My mom is just really, really young. Also? Everyone reading this is going “She went THERE?” and is wondering if this is going to go to blows. I, however, know you are laughing your ass off. And that’s why I love you. Now…Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

 

LCL: Kick-ass.

 

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

 

LCL: Latinas in the media are usually pigeonholed into these ridiculous roles. But this has happened before to other ethnicities and it’s up to us to change that. How? By telling and showing mainstream America what we’re really like.

 

PC: You mean you’ve never seen Jesus in a tortilla, either? Good. I was starting to feel lonely over here. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

 

LCL: That I’m ok with whatever they do in life as long as it makes them happy and doesn’t hurt them or anyone else.

 

 PC: I like the qualifier there. One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

LCL: My dad and my grandfather, always writing. Books on shelves. The sound of the printing press my family had. The smell of fresh ink, and the glue used to bind the books. I come from a family of writers and publishers.

 

PC: And you just adopted me. I’ll be your sassy and slightly eccentric younger sister. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

LCL: All of the above. I switch from one to the other easily. I can’t imagine life otherwise. I owe that to my dad.

 

PC: Show-off. *grins* Do you feel “Latina enough”?

 

LCL: I don’t feel I have to justify my languages, ethnicity or background to anyone. Not anymore. When I was younger I felt I didn’t fit in anywhere, being multicultural and bilingual. I certainly did not feel American enough although I’ve always had that nationality and my mom is from Pittsburgh, Pa.  

 

 PC: You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

 

LCL: First of all, I’d drink a beer, straight from the bottle. I’d eat something easy to handle. I remember being an interpreter and having to eat and talk at the same time. I didn’t enjoy that. When I’m sharing good company and conversing, the food takes second place. Perhaps Michelle Obama. We’re the same age, we have two young girls, and I’d just love to chat with her like a friend.

PC: Eventually, someone’ going to say Me. Eventually. Right? But I’ll take FLOTUS for the win. Describe your perfect day.

 

LCL: Get up at 10 without an alarm. Coffee in backyard with the dog. Write. Walk on the beach. Read a book. Short run and workout. Hang out with my kids. Go on a date with my honey. Write some more. Cuddle with the kids. Read a book. Have sex. Sleep whenever I’m tired (maybe 2 am) and back to the beginning. This is not how I spend my days, mind you, but I’d love to!

PC: And that, my friends, is one hell of a perfect day.

 

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Girlfriend needed a reality check…so I gave her one.

 

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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ChingonaFest Coffee Mug by ChingonaFest
Find other Chingona T-Shirts at zazzle.com

 

Check out my Zazzle Shop for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

 

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

 

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

Image credit: The Starfish Project

Image credit: The Starfish Project

I have a story to tell you about a starfish.

Well, a lot of them, actually.

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Children’s necklace, $24.99

The Starfish Project is a socially responsible business providing exploited women in Asia with alternative employment and a chance to heal and grow through counseling, vocational training, language acquisition, family education and grants, and access to health care and housing in their dedicated shelter. As of 2013, the Starfish Project has grown to support 50 women, allowing them to provide for their families through meaningful employment creating stunning pieces of jewelry.

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Teardrop Bali Design, $17.99

Starfish has expanded it’s business model and holistic care program, expanding into poorer locations to reach more women by opening two more branches of the Project. As of 2013, the Starfish Project now operates and offers care and employment to exploited women in three different cities in Asia, committed to restoring hope for them and serving as a beacon of hope with the change they represent.

A very worthy cause, you think. But what the hell does this have to do with #ChingonaFest, you think.

I’ll tell you.

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I founded #Chingonafest as a means to encourage Latinas to embrace our own voices in the face of a culture which dictates we conform, keep our thoughts to ourselves, and always put the needs of the many before our own. It’s about female empowerment and finding the strength within to stand up for ourselves no matter what. Chingonafest is here because you made it happen, and it will continue to grow because you continue to make it happen. A Chingona knows that in lifting up women in need of support, regardless of culture, we make ourselves stronger. The hashtag may be culturally specific, but the spirit behind the hashtag is universal. Tonight’s #chingonafest chat is about all of this and so much more.

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red coral stretch bracelet, $27.99

My BFF, Heather Jackman, recently joined the Starfish ranks in the role of Director of US Sales & Operations, and I can’t even begin to express how proud of her I am. Heather is a survivor of domestic and sexual abuse who has supported Starfish long before packing up her belongings and moving from Tucson to Indiana  — where the US offices are located — with her new husband just recently. Tonight, Heather will be representing the Starfish Project as our featured guest.

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Silver starfish necklace, $24.99

The Starfish Project has graciously offered one lucky winner one of these beautiful necklaces. To enter, you must follow Heather on twitter, a well as The Starfish Project, and Chingonafest (from which the chat’s main tweets will be generated) And, while not required, I encourage you to sign up for the Starfish Project Newsletter, and shop their selection. If you see something you love — and I think you will — I invite you to take advantage of the Starfish Project’s sale, offering free shipping on orders $50 or more.

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Lampwork glass starfish necklace, $19.99

I hope to see you tonight from 10-11 p.m. EST. Don’t forget to use the #chingonafest hashtag.

As Latinas we must work against the tide to force positive change for ourselves, as well as for our daughters. As women, the mission is the same. The only difference is the size of the playing field.

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