Latina Women Promoting a Positive View of Femininity

Avenueva company owned by Jessie Martinez in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

It was a treat in 2012 to receive a message from Jessie Martinez, a dad who had read some of the information about modest clothing on the Fashion Belle website and wrote to thank us. His perspective on the cultural pressures young women face and his plans for engaging his own and other families in instilling positive values in girls from early ages so impressed me that I wanted to share his message here. When I asked for permission to publish his email, he wrote, "Absolutely. Feel free to re-post my message in your site's forum. I am delighted that you think it may benefit your readers. . . . Look forward to helping move this conversation/topic forward." As a brief introduction, Mr. Martinez is a designer who has worked in the print, branding and metalworking fields for over 10 years. He recently started his own design business named Avenueva, meaning "new avenue," in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, area.

Just wanted to say thank you for this site. This will be a great resource for us, particularly my wife and young daughters. I'm a stay-at-home dad running our online design business from our home. Although my experience is in graphic design, I appreciate all forms of design and can see my 6-year-old loves fashion design. We want to provide her with the environment to pursue her ideas/passion, but we also want to help guide her through the process of what is appropriate, make her aware of predatory marketing and help her identify negative public images of women. My wife and I have noticed the compression of market segmentation with young girls. They are trying to make these girls and the public believe they are older than what they are. Your site will provide visuals for us so that she can learn what is beautiful yet acceptable, meaning it focuses on setting a positive image of feminine confidence, intelligence and self-worth. So again, as a dad, thank you.

. . . I am currently addressing the Hispanic perspective on this, which has a deeper-rooted problem ingrained in its traditional culture as to how women are viewed. There is a strong movement among successful Latinas trying to flip the script and set a positive image for young Hispanic women. Your site is a great example of how to provide an inspirational platform for young fashion designers. My goal is to engage parents, including fathers, to speak up, spread awareness and begin taking individual steps toward healthier guidance of our youth regardless of race, culture or gender.

I can also see the potential of doing a feature article on people making a positive difference. You are doing just that in a highly under-addressed topic. . . . Best -- Jessie Martinez"

In response to this email, I forwarded Mr. Martinez a link to an article by researcher Diane Levin, Dealing with the impact of today's sexualized childhood on young children. This article is well worth reading for anyone who has an influence in the lives of young girls. Ms. Levin's points include the following:

  • Protect children as much as possible from exposure to sexualized media and products.
  • Help children make sense of what they see and influence children’s learning and behavior.
  • Make phone calls, talk to store managers, and write letters to explain the harm caused by highly sexualized products that are directed at young children.

Mr. Martinez brought up a significant point about the extra pressure that Latina women face with all the media objectification of them as exotic beauties. Just look around at the many celebrities popular in the United States who have a South American heritage (and who may have a broad career spanning multiple countries). Their naturally clear skin, dark hair and curvaceous figures are blessings from God and can be used in positive ways, if they would choose to do so. Most celebrities are expected to publicly dress in ways that are too revealing and do not respect who they are as women, and younger girls look to them as examples. I'm encouraged to hear that a movement is taking place among successful women seeking to change this perspective and set new examples of framing natural beauty in positive ways.

The Quinceanera Latin American tradition that takes place on a girl's fifteenth birthday (similar to a debutante ball) is another area of influence that can be used either positively or negatively. For many girls, it is an occasion that may pressure them into wearing heavy makeup and a strapless ball gown even if they do not feel comfortable doing so. Most Quinceanera dresses can be modified for modesty, and to see suggestions of places to purchase gowns that are designed for modesty, visit our clothing reviews directory. The Quinceanera tradition is a lovely one, that of acknowledging the passage from girlhood to womanhood, and like any other special occasion in life, it can be celebrated while wearing dresses that are both beautiful and modest. Thanks again to Mr. Martinez for his encouraging insights.