Elevate Difference

Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina

Hijas Americanas is a book that discusses the issues that Latinas raised in the United States face. It’s an extensive analysis of cultural differences and the different ways in which they assimilate, while still incorporating the values and traditions ingrained by family. Rosie Molinary conducted an extensive survey (which she includes at the end of the book) and based her book both on her findings and on her experiences growing up. While the concept is extremely interesting, the style of writing is rather repetitive, and the actual reading can get tedious. Molinary recounts the experiences of the women surveyed and, while at first it’s entertaining, it becomes predictable and redundant: “Thalia a twenty-seven-year-old Chicana…”, “Gloria, the forty-year-old Puerto Rican who grew up in …” eventually it reads more like a study written for a college class than a comment on biculturalism.

While the book covers several topics, from sexuality and stereotypes to religion and how being Latin affects them, I couldn’t help but feel that it wasn’t necessarily a cultural issue. Dealing with how others perceive us, finding our independence from our parents and discovering our sexualities, these are issues that we all have to deal with. The stories relayed in _Hijas Americanas _are exclusive of the Latin culture, yet if you interchange cultures and anecdotes, you could very much be reading about any group of people. I did enjoy the few bits in which Molinary discusses her personal experiences; it is in these instances that the book displays a frankness that is captivating and playful. She shares with all sincerity the story of a woman finding her identity, and that is something women of all cultures can relate to.

Written by: Jessica Sánchez, August 13th 2007