#ChingonaFest Fridays: Veronica Arreola

It's week TWO for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, Pili Montilla graced the blog as the first Chingona and it was fabulous. Today, the fabulous continues with proud feminist Veronica Arreola sitting in the hot seat. It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). 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.

Veronica is a a force to be reckoned with. By day, she runs a women in science & engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Research on Women and Gender and by night she's a PhD student in Public Administration. I'm assuming that means she earned her veteran blogger stripes (and became a social media addict while doing the public speaking thing) when she should have been sleeping. Oh, and that #365feministselfie thing the entire internet is talking about? Yeah, Veronica founded that, too.(Of course, I'm posting the daily selfies because I like words that start with the letter "F".)

And on to the interview!

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Veronica Arreola

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Veronica Arreola: Vanilla bean.

 

 

PC: So you're a rebel and don't like boxes, then. *nods head* Can you tell me what favorite book is and why?

 

 VA: This is like asking me to choose my favorite child! Oh wait, I only have one. Damn...still, you can't ask a bookworm this.

 

 

PC: I should have seen that one coming. Okay, let's go three for three. What's your favorite quote?

 

VA:  "Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel." Bella Abzug

 

 

PC: Alrighty then. Um, and now for the obvious. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

VA: OF COURSE!

 

 

PC: Good. You had me worried there for a minute. Let's talk about who you hope to inspire.

 

VA: My daughter. She is everything that I had hoped to have as a daughter. Smart, witty, strong, athletic, caring and with an eye on justice. It is an honor to be her mom. Watch out world!

 

 

PC: Sweet. When she's old enough to say Chingona without getting grounded, send her my way, will ya? But back to you...do you dream in color or black and white?

 

VA: Technicolor. When I was a kid, I often got dreams and real life mixed up. I'd swear things happened and my mom would have to explain that I dreamt it.

 

 

PC: Why am I not surprised? Okay, so, let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

 

VA: VIVA!

 

 

 

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

 

VA:  Hijole! The sad thing is that I think of the awful representations first. SNL's Cecily Strong's continuing to play the ditzy Latina, Sofía Vergara's Gloria on "Modern Family" is like a Latina Peg Bundy without Peg's sharp wit and then there's a new Latina character on "The Walking Dead" who looks to be drawn by a 13-year-old boy. ENOUGH! But then we go to the news part of the media and we see Latinas like Maria Hinojosa and Soledad O'Brien, who show our intelligent side. Thank goodness for America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson making movies with strong and intelligent Latina characters..or at least not a stereotype of a Latina which the rest of us have to dispel over and over.

 

 

PC: hmm..I see your point, but I also loved Peg Bundy. But it was probably the sharp wit thing. Anyway, NEXT! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

 

VA: To keep exploring the world.

 

 

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

 

VA: Hard to choose just one! Why do you do this to me, Pauline? OK, so my dad always had pick up trucks when we were kids. I loved riding in the back, especially when he didn't have a cap on the back. It was heaven. I vividly remember my girlfriends & I tagging along while he want to the auto-part store. We piled in with my boombox, turned up the music and sang all the way there and back.

 

 

PC: Oh that makes me think of my Guelo's station wagon and the seats that flipped up and telephone poles with signs with phone numbers for the "Yunk Yard." *sighs wistfully* Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

VA: English

 

 

PC: Yeah, unless I'm drunk (and I mean like College Frat Party levels), I think in English, too. So what's your favorite dish? Why?

 

VA: Cheese enchiladas con mole. My mom use to make the best enchiladas. When I moved out of my parents' home, I started my now 20+ years of trying to replicate her recipe. No canned mole for my mom's enchiladas. And since she died 11 years ago, my quest for that perfect recipe so my daughter has the same memories keeps me going. BTW - Anyone know where I can get some California Chile powder?

 

 

PC: Going out on a limb here, but California sounds like a good place to look. What? The door..it was RIGHT THERE. You can glare at me later. For now, I wanna know if you feel "Latina enough"?

 

VA: Not really.

 

 

PC: WHAT? You so NO and leave us hanging? That was just mean. Let's see what you do with this one: Describe your perfect day.

 

VA:A warm day, full of sunshine, cool breeze, then climbing up a tree. I'll find a comfy nook, then settle in to read a good book. These perfect days happened almost every day when I was a kid. Now I substitute biking to a park with my family. Still toting a book along.

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out this week’s Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine (this week’s reader says she's twelve and that love hurts like hell. Yeah, y;all. I KNOW...! Send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

#365FeministSelfie: Validation Has Nothing to Do With It

I love me a good hashtag. It took a bit of convincing to get me on board for the #365feministselfie movement, but my friend Galit Breen as a way with words. The eye-rolls have been replaced, every day that has passed since the first one, with just the tiniest bit less bullshit and slightly more unapologeticness. Because that's a word, right?

The ringleader of this little Love it Or Hate it project is Veronica Arreola and I'm thinking we're gonna be hanging out lots at BlogHer14 in California this year. I happen to think anyone who can convince a bunch of random women -- who for the most part don't know each other --  to plaster the selves our significant others don't get to see until at least one good round of crazy sex has to be made of magic. Especially when you stop to consider how much work we put into getting naked to begin with, what with the perfectly applied makeup, hair that took hours to curl, and  lingerie that cost way too much for the amount of time we actually spent wearing it before it got tossed to the floor ... hell, you guys! I think it was six months of dating The Husband before I was comfortable enough to fart.

All this to say that I have issues and we all tend to keep up whatever appearances during our little courting periods before we stop trying so hard.

Maybe we start out with the bells and whistles. In my case, I wasn't about to turn the camera on myself unless I didn't look like shit. And by "look like shit", I mean no bra, no make-up, no clever Instagram filters or photo editing...

 

I've seen some chatter here and there referring to the #365feministselfie as self-serving and a sad reality for feminism. Now, I want to make it clear that until very recently, I hadn't even stopped to consider myself a feminist. But I guess writing columns about raising a self-respecting Chingona automatically got me in the club. And I'm okay with that. I figure I have to be if I'm announcing to the world my intention to encourage my little girl's hell-raising ways.

I also want to make it crystal clear that there is nothing self-serving about this. I'm not posting selfies so you can tell me I'm pretty. Every one of us is taking our own journey throughout the coming year. We each came to it with a predetermined level of individual comfort and we will each have the comfort level challenged as we progress. There's no way I'd have started off with a no-make-up-full-face-allergic-reaction, even if I instinctively knew my friends and readers would come to my ego's rescue and tell me how brave and beautiful I am for sharing because that's not the point.

 It's about dropping the facade, digging deep, letting go of our own self-judgement, and that defining moment when we hit that share button after taking one last big breath. After we pin it and hit publish and share and send on the singular images that, when when combined, reflect who we really are.

You can tell me I'm pretty. You can tell me I'm not.

I'm more interested in what I tell myself as I share that which I would normally hide.