Last Friday Alejandra Guzmán, a popular Mexican singer, streamed a Facebook Live session. The 49-year-old happily communicated to her fans that her joint tour with Gloria Trevi, which has been a massive success, added new dates. But instead of praising the unconventional pop star, many fans and Spanish-language media decided to focus on her appearance.
In 2009 Alejandra nearly lost her life because of various botched cosmetic procedures, most of which were performed by one Valentina de Albornoz, a woman who used to operate on a large roster of famous clients, but turned out to be a shady back alley doctor.
The singer has been very open about her struggle. This week she published a video on Instagram where she appeared next the doctor who’s been treating her:
“Here we are, fighting against polymers. After seven years, we’re feeling glorious, victorious and happy because we’re moving forward. Thanks to all the people who tell the truth, act with good faith, and good vibes, because not everybody is like that.”
Latino music is largely dominated by men, and the few women who manage to achieve mainstream success are usually sanitized — or highly sexualized — so that the powers that be can keep selling stereotypes. The fact that two female pop stars, both of whom produced some of the most unique music in Latin America, have successfully carried out a big tour all over the American continent should have been the lead story in Spanish-speaking media.
Instead, the majority of Spanish-speaking outlets, along with a large group of fans, decided to shame Guzmán’s appearance.
I won’t link to any stories or screenshot any comments— you can look those up on your own — but while some of Alejandra’s fans have been unconditionally supportive of her, the bulk of the 40K+ comments the Facebook Live session generated range from “You used to be so beautiful. What happened?!” to “You look deformed.”
Yes, Alejandra had some work done. Again, she’s been entirely honest about it. But one of the biggest criticisms that’s flung at older women — especially those in the entertainment industry — is that they’re desperately trying to appear young when, very clearly, they’re not.
Most people don’t realize that female entertainers are in a no-win situation, especially if they’re working in the Spanish-speaking world. Since first-world concepts of feminism and empowerment take a lot longer to reach Latin America, people’s obsession with youth and beauty is unforgiving, and it can make or break careers.
Big Wigs assume youth and conventional beauty will always outsell talent. In Alejandra’s case, that means her fans, label managers, concert promoters, media moguls, and other individuals can directly or indirect exert certain power over her, especially if she refuses to cave to mainstream beauty expectations.
She’s not the only victim. That’s why Shakira, who was already insanely successful as an alternative teen idol, turned herself into a sexy bombshell for the Estefans. The message has always been clear: Wanna make it to big time? Then make yourself hot and Barbie-esque, because you’re talent is not enough.
Not all Latina pop stars are as smart as Olvido Gara, aka Alaska, to expertly defend their decision to go under the knife. But shaming women for doing so — even if it was done for the wrong reasons — only gives more power to the same people who turn smart women into embarrassing stereotypes.
María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career
According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.
Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.
Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:
“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”
Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:
“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”
If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:
Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”
I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.
I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”
I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”
She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”
I wasn’t following her logic.
“Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.
“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.
“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”
I stared at her in disbelief.
She stood up and walked towards the doorway.
“Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.
From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.