Soy Yo Soy Hermosa
You’re too Fat!
You’re too Tall!
You’re too skinny!
You’re too short!
Your hair is too curly!
Your hair is too straight!
Your skin is too dark!
This list can go on, and on of the judgment we as women face from the time, we are little girls to the women we are today. Society has created this illusion of what a woman should look like in our heads. From generation to generation those standards are shoved down our throats and have blurred together perceptions and realities of what we as a society think is beautiful. This project was created to remind women, that there has been no mistake in how we were created because we are all beautiful in our own way. The truth is the ideal body type doesn’t exist, and getting that notion out of our heads that it does is where change starts to happen. It is up to our generation to show the young girls of tomorrow to love every inch of their bodies. The #SoyYoSoHermosa project embodies what it is to love your body and yourself because being beautifully you is what it is all about. 11 Strong, and beautiful Latin women have come together to share their stories of their bodies and how they are changing beauty standards one step at a time, here are their stories.
It was the summer of ‘94, I was 11 years old, and this was the summer I’ll always remember because it was the summer my body decided it wanted to change drastically. My foot size grew from a 5 ½ to 7 ½, and I shot up 4” to 5’7” by the end of the year. I can remember it like it was yesterday. The night before my very first day of school I stood in front of the mirror and there I was an 89 lb 5’7” 11-year-old dreading the idea of having to step foot into those school halls because I knew that the kids would make fun of my height and weight.
You see I grew up in Newark, NJ where it was common for the boys on the block to crack jokes on girls. I was the perfect target for anyone that loved to make people the brunt of their jokes. My hair didn’t curl just right, add facial hair, leg hair, braces, and of course, being skinny and tall to make the perfect combination for jokes! Well, let’s just say boys weren’t lining up to have their first kiss with me. Growing up in the hood, most of the girls around me had curves at the age of 10, and that’s what I thought to be beautiful; I knew no different.
I would love to say that as I aged to a teenager that my body filled out, but it didn’t. What did grow though was my love of fashion! I learned young that clothes could be a way to express myself and that love gave me the confidence I lacked. As I got older and made my way to college, I also started to meet other women that grew up differently from me. These women would tell me, “I would kill to be your weight,” but I still at this point did not think being “skinny” was beautiful. I didn’t find myself to be beautiful because I didn’t have the curves I so desperately wanted on my frame.
After college, I still felt uncomfortable with myself and decided a breast augmentation was needed, so I proceeded with the surgery to the dismay of my mother and boyfriend (now husband). I would be lying if I said I regret that surgery, at that time I did it because that part of my body bothered me. If I press fast forward 12 years later to today, I can tell you that I am so proud of the woman I am today and blessed to be the mother of two beautiful souls. Being a mom to a little girl who looks like I did at her age has been my wake-up call. Annabelle is my reminder that I am beautiful, and I must set an example for her. When I see my daughter, I see myself, and to me, she is a perfect little girl.
I still have my moments, as we all do, where I wish for the physical features I don’t have, but I now know that not everyone will find me to be beautiful and this is okay because if I just continue to put out into the world that I think and know I am beautiful, then that is what I am. My 30s have taught me a lot about myself and have helped me love ALL of me. We, as women, can be so hard on ourselves and adding social media into the mix makes the problem a continuous fighting battle with comparing yourself to others. I certainly wish I could give you all of the answers to make you feel confident in your own skin, but I can’t. What I can tell you with 100% certainty though is that it starts from within. I promise you that if you own who you are, the beauty will exude through your pores. Let’s empower each other and be the change our children and these young girls need. I am Lissette Nereida Pedreiras, and I'm beautifully me.
I still remember the moment Lissy asked me to be a part of this shoot. I said yes! and immediately bought 5 different suits, booked a tanning appointment, and shopped online for accessories - clearly I was muy excited! But as the weekend of the swim shoot approached, a part of that excitement turned into a little apprehension..
I'm grateful to live my 20's (almost 30's) during a time where all body shapes are embraced and accepted. Where stretch marks and cellulite aren't a big of deal. Where everyone's tummy rolls show when we sit, where if your pants don't fit, YOLO, just buy a bigger size. Although 2019 has taught us to love so many different parts of ourselves, i sometimes go back to that 15 year old who idolized skinny models and always took my aunt's "weight comments" to heart. Some days, my curves are my best friends and other days, I can't even fit one leg into a pair of jeans. The days where nothing fits right, are usually the days I'm hardest on myself. But I've learned to the take extra time and remember that I'm built a certain way and that is perfectly OK.
I think many girls can relate to not loving every part of their body. Wishing they had features other girls had, not giving themselves enough credit, being our biggest and worst critiques; we forget to love ourselves just a tiny bit. And sometimes we need a reminder.
Thank you for the reminder Lissy & for bringing together a group a women who share similar stories and thrive to empower and inspire women to always love themselves regardless.
For as long as I can remember, my body, has seemed to define me. As a curvy Latina-getting used to them was a lot harder while growing up with my friends. We didn’t share the same curves, shapes or even color. Learning to love myself (and my curves) was somewhat foreign. It wasn’t until my early-mid 20’s when I embarked this journey called self-love. And girl, it was a long one! I got to a point where I was like “I got this. I love me!” I felt sexy and confident in my clothes. There was a swish in my hips and I was preaching what I practiced.
Or so I thought…
Two and a half years ago I slipped into a funk. It took over my mind and body. I’ve gained about 30 lbs and the confidence I thought I once had quickly disappeared. I felt like a fraud for telling women and girls to “embrace their curves”. How dare I not practice what I preach? Reality hit hard and I soon realized that this self-love journey is just that-a journey. Filled with up’s, down’s, twists, and turns. So at 31, I am continuing. I am continuing my self-love journey and rebuilding my confidence. And what better way to do that than to jump into a bathing suit and surround yourself with other strong beautiful Latinas?
My name is Tiffany Diana and I am more than just my body. I am intelligent, hard working, compassionate, and full of sass. And forever evolving. It’s okay to rebuild yourself. As women, we come in all shapes, sizes, and color which is exactly what makes us unique. Drop the fear and embrace what could be the most liberating and rewarding feeling; being YOURSELF.
I've always been a petite girl with curves my entire life. Standing 4/11 1/2" tall (the half counts) and always the smallest size in clothing. I've always maintained my figure and weight and that area of life has truly never been a worry for me until I turned 24 and I felt like it all went to shits! Between hormonal changes, hormonal birth control and pretty much just - LIFE... my body drastically changed and I felt as though I had to learn this new person and the new skin i'm in. My hips and waist got wider, my boobs got bigger, my thighs more jiggly, and let's not talk about hair loss and skin changes. Boy oh boy.
It took a lot of acceptance and also trial and error in learning what my new body needs and wants. I had to learn quickly that as a woman and with age things start to shift, hang and everything in between and that's well.. THAT IS OKAY. I'd be lying if I said I 10000% love the body I am in all the time - I have my days. Self-love is my top priority and I know that is an endless journey. I'm still making progress to loving my body and myself the best way that I can and that's all that really matters. My name is Amanda and i'm a Puerto Rican Bronx native. Whether you are knew to who I am or one of my loyal followers, I always encourage everyone to be more kind to yourself. To not be so hard and negative. You're doing your best and we all share the same struggles. Love yourself in every stage of life.
You’re so pretty for a fat girl. You dress so good for a big girl. You would be so dope if you were skinny. Where do you shop, I’m big and can’t find clothes like you. These are just some of the things people have been telling me since I was a teenager, not recognizing the damage they were doing. If you would ask 15 year old me, if she would ever embrace her weight and take part in a photo shoot, in a bathing suit, nevertheless, she would have literally laughed at you. Confidence wasn’t my think but with years of self-reflection and a loving circle of family and friends I’ve learned to love every once of myself and now you can’t tell me nothing!
My name is Tashilee Vazquez, a Latina born in Jersey and raised in the traditions of my Puerto Rican parents. Currently 40 years old (I dealt with the number pretty well), I have a Masters Degree and have grown my career in executive leadership in non-profits and local government for over 15 years. Education and career were my focus for most of my early adult life but I always had a passion for fashion. Just last year I started a small merchandise line formed by the idea of making and selling FEMale empowerment merchandise for women inclusive of all shapes, sizes, colors and cultures. My style is not defined by size but by my love for looking amazing whether in formal, business or streetwear.
I’m honored to take part in this shoot among these fabulous Latina beauties of all shapes, shades and sizes. If I could be a source of inspiration for just one young girl who wouldn’t dare try on a bathing suit (white at that) then I feel my job is done. We must learn to embrace our curves , love our curves, and show them off!
“If you asked me some time ago how I felt about my body I would consistently point out everything I hated about it - from the size of my breast to my “no curves” to my “pipa” aka permanent food baby...LOL!
Let’s not even get started on me wearing a bathing suit, that was always an absolute NO for me.
My name is Jessica Benivades and as a Latina coming from a line of women with very curvaceous bodies I couldn’t help but feel ashamed that I lacked such an idolized shape. My body not fitting what society deemed as beautiful made me feel weak and ashamed when i looked within.
As I mentioned before one of my most vulnerable elements were my big breasts. With my big breast came A LOT of health complications: back problems and excruciating neck pains, and shoulder weariness. Fast forward to a few years ago I got a breast reduction that gave me a boost of confidence. Not only did this procedure relieve me from physical health issues but it also allowed me to become more comfortable with myself.
Too often we get caught up in what we see wrong with ourselves and can’t help but compare our flaws to the beauties of others. However, I have recently learned that it is important to always recognize ones attributes that make you beautiful. It’s all about what exudes from within and as cliche as it may sound confidence is key!
I am still a work in progress but can finally say that i’m okay with that. With all that said “this is all the body you’re going to get ️”
To all the woman breaking barriers and loving the skin that they’re in this goes to you! My name is Nathalia Polanco, I’m a 24 years old, born and raised in Paterson, NJ. The diversity amongst my fellow Dominicans and every country demonstrates the beauty we all uniquely have. Like most Hispanic women the first set of curves I ever encountered were my moms. That was all I knew growing up so it never dawned on me to be any different. Once I started diving into my love for fashion and modeling I subconsciously started questioning some of my attributes. When I was first introduced to the industry I kept beating myself down for not meeting certain criteria’s as far as “height requirements” or not being physically shaped to their needs. In the midst of going after my passion, I gave myself an ultimatum. I had to learn to either work with the body that was given to me and utilize it to it’s fullest potential or mold myself into the idea of what someone has of me. From personal experiences, there were countless times I wanted to give up. This idea of “you’re not tall enough, your bottom heavy and your hair is too loud.”, were just negative words I allowed to sabotage my mind. When all odds were against me, like the time I had got into car accident, I had to learn to change the perspective on how I viewed myself from the inside out. I dealt with series of anxiety and depression, but I grew to understand I am not my anxiety nor I am defined by depression. Society constantly tells us we shouldn’t be comfortable with who we are and I refuse to be in a position of influence and not be a voice for women. Ironically, how it all came to full circle modeling has become my safe haven, more so therapeutic in how I tackle these things. I am so much more than just my height, I am more than my body size, I am more than just the girl with big hair. I admire my strength for not conforming to anyone else’s standards especially now since the industry has changed tremendously. I love that I’m able to use my creativity to it’s best ability and despite of the naysayers, I can confidently showcase the skin I’m in. To anyone wanting to pursue a career in modeling, stay true and stay consistent, even when you think no one is watching, you have an audience that is moved by your courage to stand strong! Grateful for the opportunity to partake in such a beautiful project that has allowed us to support one another and share our stories as Latina women!
If you could see little Erika, you wouldn't believe we are the same girl. Growing up I was a very shy little girl, I would say that it wasn't until I was in college that I became the confident, social butterfly that I am today. Over the years something clicked and I am happy that it did.
As a child, I was always the girl on her mama's lap at parties and wouldn't participate in any of the games because I was too shy to dance in front of anyone or do anything in big crowds for that matter. Elementary school was tough because I didn't know any English at all... I was in the ESL program and didn't know anyone in that school. It was probably one of the toughest years of my childhood. Within one year I learned English and made a couple of friends... still a very shy, sheltered little girl.
I remember being in middle school not knowing who I was during those super awkward years. I wanted to fit in so badly, I wanted curly hair just like all the Puerto Rican and Dominican girls in my school, I wanted to dress cool but my mom couldn't afford it and I just didn't feel like I belonged. I still missed my beloved Ecuador and the warmth and love I grew up surrounded by. Besides trying to find myself as a teenager during those weird years I was also bullied by these girls who made up a rumor that I was a lesbian... I have no issues with lesbians but I knew I wasn't it. But imagine being 12-13 and having this rumor about you at school. I remember my mom had to come in to the school and speak to the counselor about this bullying, I remember I cried. I guess, thinking back, I was what they would call a "goody-two-shoes" but I didn't mean to be, lol, I was simply a really good kid with excellent grades... I had straight A's all throughout middle school and even made it in the Honor's Society Club. So you know kids, they hate even from an early age.
In high school, I got my first C ever! I wanted to die and I am pretty sure my mom wanted to kill me, lol... I blame it on boys! I had the biggest crush on this boy and was finally coming out of my shell. I made some amazing friends and HS was the highlight of my student life for sure. Now I don't want to credit any boy for my confidence (I rather give all the glory to God!) but that boy I had a crush on in 9th grade eventually became my boyfriend by the time I was a Senior. After two long years of dating, he broke my heart and (of course!) I thought I was going to die. We truly are so stupid when we are teenagers! Lol. Something clicked back then and I remember telling myself no one was ever going to hurt me that way again. I prayed that I didn't feel so heartbroken anymore, I prayed for confidence and self love. And it worked... I took public speaking in college and killed my presentation that semester and I started loving speaking in public and was definitely more outgoing. I became a happier more confident young woman. Somehow that sad time in my life gave me a new perspective on how I truly wanted to be and the expectations and goals I wanted to set for myself . Jesus has his ways and I love him eternally for that.
So sure there are a couple things I love about my body but what I love most is the confident woman I have become over the years. If you told me back then I would be a blogger and speak at several panels, host live TV shows and share photos of myself for a living, I would have laughed at you! Life is wild... you have to learn how to love yourself for who you are in order to see what God has already planned for you. Every experience and event during your life has a purpose. Trust... I look back and laugh because I know God always had this plan for me.
Imagine growing up and hearing comments. like " her boobs are too small or she doesn't have a shape" these words can really mess with anyone's head, especially a little girl. It's not easy always being compared to your primas who tienen "mas cuerpo." Sadly I lived this...
I, Joanne Gonzalez, had to fall in love with every part of me especially my Dominican curvaceous body. I am 27 years old, born and raised in Paterson, NJ. But definitely spent all of my summers with my abuelos in Republica Dominicana.
If you are reading this and are insecure about your body, deja eso mujer! You are beautiful in your own skin and you need to embrace it all. Trust me, at one point in my life I was 90 pounds and miserable as heck! We all must learn to love ourselves and always seek happiness. Nothing in life is a guarantee, so why waste it being joyless!
Hi my name is Tyla Lauren Gilmore and I am a full time lifestyle content creator born and raised in NYC. My entire life I’ve always been average sized, anywhere from a size 6 through a size 12. It took me so long to accept that I’ll always have thick thighs and I’ll never be a size 2. After going through my natural hair journey I realized that embracing my hair, my body and myself as whole was the secret to some major confidence. Being apart of this project reminded me how important it is to be the outlet for people to realize all women and all bodies are beautiful. In this day and age we all should be pushing inclusivity and diversity in anyway we can. I’m so happy I was able to participate in such a powerful project that speaks volumes to all women!
My body image has always influenced me in both negative and positive ways. As a child, I was always the tallest one in the group which made me feel a bit awkward around the other kids. Eventually, this feeling faded away as I started to embrace my height and not feel guilty about it...thanks Vogue magazines. As a young women, I had an extensive battle with depression. Those years were like a roller coaster because I used to gain and loose weight rather quickly. A Youthful metabolism can do wonders to Latina woman. Now, in this period of my life I find myself feeling more confident than ever and I wouldn’t necessarily say that because I look a certain way, but more because life lessons have taught me to love my body no matter what. Beauty is perceived in many different ways nowadays, and All I can say is just love your self and keep it moving.