Welcome to WEEK 4 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. Technically, it’s week 5 because I missed last Friday due to the NYC craziness for Rick Najera’s #AlmostWhite book launch, but let’s not dawdle on the Me Dropping the Momentum Thing, shall we? I’ll be talking about all of THAT craziness on Monday. For now, let’s get back on the Spanglish Bitchfest Wagon.
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 purpose, Las 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 that it does.
Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Lori Luna and Veronica Arreola 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.
This week’s Chingona is Helen Troncoso, doctor and title-holding beauty queen with her heels firmly dug into the feminist camp. Helen has been featured pretty much everywhere (including Latina Magazine as a Top Ten Health & Fitness Blogger) Her most recent endeavor is as co-host of a new show,“El Bien Estar del Hogar con Casa Latina”, on V-me TV, the first national Spanish-language network to partner with American public television, and the fourth largest Spanish network in the United States. This show will follow Helen as she will work with women to transform their health and lives. Catch up with Helen on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and check out her site for some healthy motivation.
And now! Time for the interview!
Dr. Helen Troncoso
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?
Helen Troncoso: I’m not a big ice cream fan, but when I indulge I’d rather go for something more fun like butter pecan.
PC: Okay then… *pushes The Box Helen Doesn’t Like to Be Put In to the side*. Let’s try this one…What’s your favorite quote?
HT: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” by C.S. Lewis. I found that many times we as women tend to get caught up in other people’s dreams and forget about the ones we made, for the good of the family or the relationship. In my case, I totally reinvented my life and health just 4 short years ago. To make a long story short, I left an abusive relationship, broken engagement and had to move to a new state and start all over. I was scared sh**less, and yes there were lots of times when I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I did it.
PC: Starting over can be a huge pain in the ass. Go You for making it happen. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
HT: Feminism is defined as, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” I know some may not consider a woman who has done beauty contests a “feminist” but I do! Beyond equal rights, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what’s right for her life. Feminism is not a, “zero sum game” as Nancy Redd once said. It’s not about having to look or act a certain way so that other people can feel comfortable labeling you. We have certainly made strides as women in many different fields, but, it’s no surprise that we still have leaps and bounds to go. Whenever I talk to young women, I always tell them to support their fellow sisters. We have so many other people coming down on us, that we need to stop the attacks and division amongst us. How are we supposed to tell women “si se puede” when our own words and actions don’t reflect that.
PC: Yes, people will bitch because that’s what people like to do. I, for one, am all for going against the grain. Feminist Beauty Queen? Why not? Now, describe yourself in third person.
HT: Helen is probably the most determined and hard-working person you will ever meet. She’s also one of the most sensitive women ever. She’s a dreamer and a doer who completely reinvented herself and is fearlessly living the life she always imagined.
PC: You said “probably”. I say “Definitely”. Who inspires you?
HT: All of those women who fearlessly continue to go after their dreams, no matter how many times they may have failed, or how crazy their ideas may seem.
PC: I’m a fucking mess, which — if you connect the dots inside my head — means I inspire you. This is where you lie to me if I’m wrong. Everybody else does. So, who is it you hope to inspire?
HT: Any woman who feels like she may have gotten off track and wonders if her dreams can really come true. Women who can’t recognize who’s staring back at them in the mirror. I’m there to tell them sometimes God’s rejection is blessed redirection.
PC: Redirection is a good thing. Do you dream in color or black and white?
HT: I don’t dream often, but occasionally I do dream like what can best be described as a black and white film.
PC: I like black & white. Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…
HT: Pa’que tu lo sepas!
PC: Orale, mujer! How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?
HT:I don’t think we’re represented correctly, but I think that applies to all women. I don’t thinker should bash Sofia Vergara (who is actually an amazing business woman) or think to be successful you have to be just like Sonia Sotomayor. We have enough labels and boxes people (our families) put us in, that we need to stop doing it to one another as women. If we want how we’re represented in the media to change, then we need to do more than get mad for a few moments and then forget about it.
PC: You’re damned right about that. One childhood memory that has stuck with you…
HT: My dad is truly my best friend, and I don’t ever take for granted our relationship. I grew up knowing that I was loved, and that I could do anything, and he would always be there right by my side.
PC: I love hearing that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?
HT: All of the above. English is definitely my dominant language, but I’m finding myself speaking Spanish more so nowadays. It’s all good! If I’m tired or you’re a good friend and you won’t judge me, you’ll probably hear my crazy Spanglish.
PC: Is there any other kind of Spanglish? Exactly. Now, what’s your favorite dish? Why?
HT: Pollo guisado. To this day there is not one restaurant, or another person that can make it as good as my mom! It’s the ultimate comfort food.
PC: *Sigh* I miss my mom’s homemade flour tortillas. Do you feel “Latina enough”?
HT: I think I’ve come full circle. I grew up in Long Island, and went to high school where I could count on one hand the number of Latinas. My “Latino” experience was limited to my family members. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand how amazing being a Latina was! It’s not about speaking Spanish (although that’s important to me), nor is it the color of our skin. It is about our culture and traditions and the intangible things that make us Latinas.
PC: *Nods head* One Latina stereotype you despise?
HT: That we have tons of children out of wedlock. Hello! No kids, and if that’s how the Universe wants it, not having them until someone puts a ring on this finger.
PC: I’ll let Beyonce know. Last one! One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)
HT: That we’re family orientated.
And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at email@example.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out this week’s Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine and be sure to send me your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out my Mexican in Maine Etsy shop for Sassy Spanglish Digital Quote Prints and sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter (Look at the sidebar, y’all)! Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re welcome.