Mexican woman (born and raised)
I’ve noticed a lack of full-on Mexican perspective in the profiles and I hope this helps, before going starting remember that my experiences do not reflect a global view of the life as a mexican, nor does invalidate the Mexican immigrants or mixed-race people who identify themselves with their Mexican heritage around the world.
Spanish is the main official language, but there over 50 indigenous languages all over the country, among the most commons are: Nahuatl, Maya, Mixteco, Zapoteco, Tzozil etc. (really there an entire Wikipedia article on it look it up)
Family is really important in México, quality time with your family is stressed over since early life, and chances are that at least half of your best childhood friends will be your cousins, someone straying away from the family permanently is severely looked down and criticized, only if it’s by choice mind you, family will be understanding if it’s for causes beyond your control (job transfers and opportunities) and Christmas and New Year is usually the time of the year where every relative from every corner of the country (and even from other countries) will come visiting you.
Family roles are still seen in a very traditional way, with the mother being in charge of the home, and the father working, however given that family abandonment is sadly very common; in all places and economic backgrounds not just poor families; this tends to place an even greater responsibility for the mother, and is not uncommon that a grandparent, uncle or even older cousin steps in as a paternal figure.
Families where the siblings never move from the parents’ house and all live in with their own families are still around, such families usually have the grandmother as the center of everything and be the one calling the shots on important decision, this is however a dying tendency (at least in the Bajío)
Dating and Friendships
Despite its conservative ideologies, parents are surprisingly permissive when it comes to the dating life of their children, sure there are some really strict parents around but they’re usually mocked even by other parents for being so prudish. An interesting contrast with American parents that I’ve seen, is that while the americans want to know who their kids are going out with, their parents, their school, etc. etc. Mexican parent rarely concern themselves with these details, as long as you get to the house at the promised hour and not smelling like alcohol or cigarettes, you’re good, it’s a given that if you’re taking someone into the house and to meet the family it’s because is a serious relationship or an incredibly good friend, and a way of telling your parents that you (and by extension them) are gonna keep seeing them.
Two key things about food in Mexico: tortillas and chile, sweet bread is also a must, but only for breakfast. Even the the most posh, stuck-up (or fresas as we call them) people will occasionally indulge into the nearest taco (or larguitas) stand for lunch, or dinner. A usual meal around here consists of soup, some steak or guisado accompanied by juice or water, dessert is not really accustomed either, unless you’re eating out.
Another thing is that fast food (pizza, burgers, fries, etc.) is not really popular around here, unless you’re from one of the big cities (DF, Querétaro, and Guadalajara) is usually seen as either something you only do for your kid’s birthday, or when you just don’t have the time for cooking because of a tight schedule.
In Mexico compulsory education is divided by 6 years of elementary school (primaria), 3 of middle school (secundaria), and three of high school (preparatora or bachillerato). Afterwards college lasts usually 4-5 years. If you graduated on medical career (nurses, doctors, dentists, psychologists and psychiatrist) are required to have in between 6 months or a year of social services before getting matriculated.
I should say that Mexicans value education A LOT, over here claiming that “college is for losers” will get you a smack in the head (by your parents) and rolled eyes from everyone else; even from people who were born before such requirement for a job were a thing, that doesn’t mean that everyone goes to college, but is usually seen as the ideal path for your children, if you don’t want to go, that’s fine but then you’re gonna have to work, and you will be expected to settle down with a family as soon as you can financially support yourself instead.
As with the majority of Mexicans, even though I’m no longer practicing (I’m atheist) I was raised as Catholic, with moderated requirements, so I had to go to mass on Sunday (which always last the same 45 min. or 1 hr. tops) with formal wear, I prayed the “Padre Nuestro” and “Ave Maria” before going to bed (this usually only last ‘til puberty hits, they stop forcing you by then) thank God for the food after each meal, but the whole thing about not eating meat on Fridays is usually only on the Cuaresma, and it only applies to red meats, so most people eat fish and chicken during those days anyway. I had to do my confirmation, my first communion, and do confessions with the local church.
These are 5 important Holidays in Mexico (in order of importance):
- Independence Day (September 16th) – National off the school (and the job) day, there are parades all over the country and on the midnight of the 15th the President will give the Bell Ring to commemorate the Father Miguel Hidalgo and lots, lots of fireworks, usually the decorations and festive moods last all September month.
- Day of the Dead (November 2nd) – Depending on the region, some places celebrate the 1st too as the “All Saints Day”, it’s also depending on the region the level to which is celebrated, in the Bajío we get an off-day, there are altars contests and Catrina parades, and we go the Cemetery to clean and adorn the graves of our families, but I know there are other places where they treat it like a regular day, leaving the visit for the most close weekend, and then there are some other places, where it’s such an important day, that everything is closed, stores, hotels, restaurants, to give off the ‘mourning’ more weight than the celebrating part, even the parades are done in silence.
- Christmas’s Eve (December 24th) – No Santa here (kids know about it, but most don’t ask presents to him), it’s exclusively a religious and family day, it’s tradition to put a manger of the baby Jesus. Family dinner at midnight, ALL the family is gonna travel to their childhood homes with their kids and spouses, a longer Mass is also attended too at night, some more religious families also perform several prayers before said dinner, and attend to the morning mass of the 25th day in which usually everything is closed down (except in bigger cities)
- The Wise Kings Day (January 6th ) – This is the day kids get their presents, the 5th is usually used for kids to hang their letters in the tree or in some places to a balloon into the air with the things they want, and wake super early and everything, that same night we get the “Rosca of Reyes”, which has several figurines of the baby Jesus in it, and anyone who gets one, has to make a meal (traditionally tamales but it can be anything) on the February 2nd for all the assistants, in schools is also done, and the expenses of are shared by the people who got the figurines as well.
- The Mexican Revolution (November 20th) – Similar to the Independence day, except that is less prominent, and depending on which weekday falls is less likely to get it as an off-day from school (usually never for jobs, unless you work in a school) the parade for this day is different from the Independence day one, because this one is less militaristic and more sporty with schools having an athletic or dancing routine for it.
- Mother’s Day (May 10th) – Usually not an off-day, but people tend to leave both school and jobs early that day to spend the day with their mother (or at least give them a call in case they can’t), it’s more…about the publicity and gifts than any other holiday
Mexican beauty standards vary according to the region, I grew up in the “Bajío” the mid-land of the country, where most of the population range from brown to white-passing of skin-color, and my family like many others in the area has sprinkled this range in the whole family, case in point, me and my siblings: my little sister is pale as they come and definitely white-passing (she has been told as much by our mexican-american cousins), my older brother is dark-skinned and really really hairy, I’m in the middle of them being light-browned:
- Skin tone: Colorism is definitely a thing here, since birth you’ll hear how pretty and cute pale babies are, and how ‘funny’ darker babies are, this is something that never really goes away as one gets older people will just stop being polite about it seeing as negroandprieto (black) are common derogative words to describe a particularly dark brown person, sometimes even calling them chango (monkey) whereas the neutral term would be “moreno (a)“
- Hair: You’re gonna have a hard time finding anyone who is doesn’t have brown or dark-hair, personally I can count with one hand the number of naturally blond people I’ve met in my 20-something years of life, I’ve met more red-heads than blonds honestly, I mentioned natural blond, because what you’re gonna get a lot are dyed blondies here, (and yes it does have to do with American-european beauty standards and prominence in the media) still, this is starting to change and it’s far more common with older women (over 35-40)
- Body Types: Despite the stereotype of the voluptuous latina, Mexican women have a wide array of body types, from petite to XXL (bigger than this is rare though) The curvy but still not-really-overweight is preferred over skinny, especially if said skinny girl doesn’t have full bottom, hips and legs (which are seen as waay more appealing than big breasts), she will often be called out for having “patas de pollo” (chicken legs) or “huesuda” (boney) in case she’s not pale.
- Make Up: There’s something you should know, 90% of Mexican women will always grab their make-up (especially the lipstick) when going out even for a mere errand, I was thought how to use make-up before learning about periods. The only schools that will not let you wear it are usually the religious ones and of course the elementary level.
- Clothing: As of late, Mexico is a place where casual clothing is the norm, even for most jobs and schools dress-codes are really lax and even then rarely enforced (unless you really push your luck of course, no one is gonna go to work wearing yoga pants and sneakers), but there are still subtle hints and differences, you can often tell people’s family background, income and even occupation by the way they dress: people from poorer families tend to favor sports clothing and sneakers (they’re easy to move in, cheap and comfy), middle-class people will have jeans and dress shirts of all types, colors and styles, formal shoes, sandals, and boots, only wearing full formal attire if the job requires it, or on formal occasions, even then richer people favor casual fashion styles, but they can be spotted because they are the ones wearing super tall high heels, jewelry brand clothing and purses etc.
Things I’d like to see less of
The spicy Latina, the illegal immigrant or the stereotypical poor Mexican family with little to no education, also the jornalero too.
Tropes/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing.
Also I’m tired of seeing the Latinx community as a monolith, where the Mexicans, the Colombians, the Chileans, the Argentines, the Brazilians etc. etc.
Things I’d like to see more of
Educated mexicans, hard-working mexicans, legal and born into America Mexicans, indigenous Mexicans.
Following the above, I’m not saying that we should erase the presence of the undocumented Mexicans, I want to see the follow up to that story, do people even understand the reason why Immigration is so common in Mexico? Do they know that more often than not, it’s only the father of the family that goes away and send money to their family in Mexico? So they can have a better life, a better education? Where is the following to that?
I’ve seen tons of depictions for the immigrants and their struggle for that better life, which feel more often than not, as a way for americans to have sob story about how “bad” our lives are and how we seek the better, richer ‘American dream’ in order to what? Feel sorry for us? But why don’t we see them having that result which is often reflected on their children? Did you know that Education is the most valued asset in Mexico? Did you know that most jornaleros won’t even risk bringing their kids with them, because they tell them to stay in school, to be better? (I always found that ridiculous, children labor exist and is a problem, but virtually no parent in gonna do that unless they are irresponsible or non-caring about them), where are the doctors? The lawyers, the engineers, the writers, the teachers. Why are we always singers or dancers, narcos or cops? We are not ‘entertainers’ at heart for you to have fun, nor dumb muscle for your gang problems.
I know this isn’t part of the POC Profile but if you want to have a better view of the Mexican way of thinking and our culture I highly suggest these titles:
- The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz
- The Broken Spears by Miguel León-Portilla
- Psychology of the Mexican by Rogelio Diaz-Guerrero
- The Book of Lamentations by Rosario Castellanos
- Mañana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans by Jorge Castañeda