Latinx Creative Kim Guerra Wants You to Know that You’re a Brown Badass Bonita

Latinx Creative Kim Guerra
Kim Guerra/Brown Badass Bonita

It all started in a bathtub at four in the morning. In 2014, Kim Guerra found herself in Seattle, many miles from where she grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley and she knew something wasn’t right.

On paper, everything looked fine: she was married, pursuing her master’s, and living well. But for Guerra, who felt uninspired and estranged from her Latinx roots, nothing could be further from the truth.

“I felt like my fire was going out,” she told Luz Collective. “I needed to reclaim myself and my community.” By the time she stepped out of the bathtub, she decided to step into her new life, and Brown Badass Bonita was born. Guerra left Seattle and her marriage to return to California.

Today, Brown Badass Bonita is a powerhouse brand that speaks to young Latinx people across the country and world with its messages of empowerment and cultural pride. But when Guerra started, she began with a small Etsy shop, selling one T-shirt at a time. It was her bold and defiant messages, set against a backdrop of soft, floral imagery, that caught the eye of so many.

“Creating and designing has always brought me joy,” Guerra, now 28 years old, said. “Little by little, it became a shop. Then it was a collection, a book, and a brand.”

It’s clear that Guerra’s message resonates. From her T-shirts to her books of poetry, Guerra’s work is grounded in the idea that self-love can be revolutionary, and her messages intentionally subvert the cultural expectations of women.

Shirts that proudly declare the words, “greñuda,” “chingona,” as well as the feminist slogan “Mi Cuerpo, Mi Cucu, Mis Reglas,” challenge the patriarchal expectations placed on young Latinas to prize beauty and marriage over everything else—norms which Guerra was familiar.

Kim Guerra using this body is beautiful bodysuit(Photo Courtesy of Kim Guerra)

“I still struggle when people ask what I do, especially with my family,” Guerra said. “My grandma will say, ‘estas bien loca, just find a man and get married.’”

But for many Latinx young people, it’s exactly that traditional attitude that makes Brown Badass Bonita so refreshing and appealing. Instead of conforming to a traditional idea of Latinx feminine identity, Guerra is envisioning new possibilities not just for Latinas but for the Latinx community as a whole. She believes that Latinx identity should be intersectional and inclusive of everyone.

Kim Guerra in a white dress(Photo Courtesy of Kim Guerra)

“As Latinx people, we’re very ride or die for our community,” Guerra said. “What if we use that ride or die we have for our families for an even broader community? We can use our resistencia, that lucha we have and extend it to our Black, LGBTQ, and Indigenous communities.”

As the Presidential election looms in November, that inclusive attitude is needed more than ever. Recently acknowledged by Univision’s Premios Joventud as an Agente de Cambio, Guerra believes that we need to talk about the things that we’ve typically been told to stay calledita about—racism, homophobia, and colorism within the Latinx community.

“We can’t be afraid to speak up,” Guerra said. “There’s work we need to do, and whether you’re having those conversations face to face, or just creating art that has a message, we have to hold these conversations.”

In recent months, Guerra has witnessed the power of speaking up—when she created her shirt “White Fragility Kills,” she was stopped by people on the street who wanted to talk about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. She hopes more Latinx creatives feel empowered to take advantage of art as a tool for change. “We can be creative with our talents and gifts,” Guerra said.

Each day, Brown Badass Bonita continues to grow. Guerra now employs her sister to help the brand expand and in the near future, she plans to host workshops and retreats that use the creative arts, including storytelling, as a way of healing from trauma.

Offline, Guerra is currently finishing her Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. As true to her principles online as she is in real life, all of her clients are people of color. Ninety percent are Latinx women.

When asked what people can do right now during COVID-19 to reduce stress and anxiety, Guerra shared that she’s been keeping in touch with her friends through weekly “queendom chats” and creative activities like paint nights. Her advice is to remember the healing power of community.

“Find creative ways to see your friends and your family,” Guerra said. “This is when we need love—and one another—the most.”

an image of a man in a business suit with a robe on top of it and his right hand raised

The Case of the Medical Medium

Have you ever wondered how people can get so popular promoting things that aren't backed by any evidence whatsoever?

Have you ever wanted to become known for having special health and nutrition information that is unknown to anyone else?

If so, then you are going to want to read this blog post.

I am going to discuss the step-by-step formula for how people position themselves as nutrition and health gurus. We will outline the tactics that are used, how to gather compelling testimonials, and more!

The reason that I decided to write this blog post is because last week, Vanity Fair released the story of Stephanie Tisone, a woman who lost her life to breast cancer after delaying conventional medical care in favor of alternative health remedies.

In the article, Stephanie is described to have been a devoted believer, client, and employee of “The Medical Medium,” and her friends and family believe that this connection that she had with the Medical Medium was partially responsible for her decision to delay conventional medical care.

If you don’t know, Medical Medium is a man named Anthony William who claims to have been “born with the unique ability to converse with the Spirit of Compassion, who provides him with extraordinarily advanced healing medical information that’s far ahead of its time” (this is directly from his site).

Now you might be thinking, “How can anyone believe this?"

Well, Anthony has published 8 New York Times best-selling books and operates a very popular brand with a cult-like following he has been known to work with many celebrities, including being featured on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

He has done quite a good job getting people to believe his story, and he is not the only one. Dozens and dozens of similar nutrition and alternative health gurus have convinced large groups of people to believe ideas that are lacking any type of evidence.

And I want to discuss how they do so in this article. What I am going to share now is the blueprint for persuading people that you have some specialized health/nutrition knowledge which is how someone can become very popular (and make a lot of money) as an alternative health/nutrition guru.

This formula is also the foundation of nearly every course that promises to teach you “How to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business” and is a method that you will see employed throughout the health/fitness space as a marketing tactic.

I hope that this article helps you to be better equipped to identify when these tactics are being used and helps you understand how some people can build very large platforms promoting special protocols or dietary approaches that often lack evidence and are not special at all.

Step 1: Identify a vulnerable population

The first step is to start with a problem that a lot of people struggle with and are looking for answers for. It could be losing weight, hormonal issues, digestive problems, autoimmune conditions, etc. Any problem people struggle with and are desperate for a solution will work. These people are often vulnerable and desperate and willing to try anything.

Step 2: Come Up With a Solution and a Story

Second, you come up with a magical plan that is going to be the answer to those problems, and you pair that with a good story about why this works. When you talk about the plan or tell the story, it’s important to make bold claims with 100% confidence that what you are saying is true to give the perception that you have THE ANSWER to the problem.

For example, people who promote a keto diet say that the answer to people’s weight loss struggles is cutting carbohydrates. Often, they say that it works because cutting carbohydrates lowers insulin levels and insulin is our body’s “fat storage hormone.”

Step 3: Get People to Try What You Are Promoting 

Beyond speaking with 100% confidence, it is important to repeat this claim as much as possible to as many people as possible. Even if what you are saying sounds fishy, if you keep repeating it with confidence and telling people it is THE ANSWER, many people who are desperate for a solution will try what you are promoting.

Another thing that you can do here is say something along the lines of “Don’t believe me, then try it yourself.” This is a great way to get people to start trying whatever you are promoting.

If what you are promoting is some version of a restricted diet, such as avoiding carbohydrates completely, completely cutting out processed foods, or cutting out long lists of foods, this is likely going to lead to improved health outcomes. This is because when you force people to cut out a bunch of foods from their diet this often causes people to 1) reduce their energy intake, and 2) improve the nutritional quality of their diet.

When people try your method, they experience weight loss/improvement in their health, and this serves as the most effective method of persuasion. Even if you were skeptical of the information at first, that skepticism will be put to rest when it “works” for you.

If you develop a large enough platform you can get hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people to try what you are recommending. If what you recommend is a nutritious dietary approach, this is likely going to be helpful for a percentage of people.

In the case of the medical medium, he recommends following a mostly raw vegan diet and doing extremely restrictive cleanses while following rigorous supplement protocols. In most cases, this is going to be a much more nutritious diet than people were eating before, it is going to lead to weight loss for most people, and it is going to remove the top food allergies and food sensitivities that can exacerbate symptoms in individuals with chronic illnesses.

Not only that, but this diet incorporates lots of juices and smoothies, which can be helpful for many people with digestive issues who don’t tolerate whole foods very well and increase nutrient availability and absorption.

This combination of attributes will cause most people to feel better if they follow this type of plan in the short term. It can even produce what seem like transformational health effects for a percentage of people with chronic illnesses.

Step 4: Share the Positive Results (While Downplaying or Ignoring Anything Negative)

So, let’s pretend you get 1,000 people to follow the protocol, and 40% felt a little bit better, 40% of them felt no difference, 10% felt terrible, and 10% experienced transformational health benefits. The 10% who experienced transformation would think that they have found “the answer,” and they will likely rave about the program.

It is important to highlight these positive testimonials EVERYWHERE and as much as possible. This is how you create the perception that the claims that you are making are “true”. Endlessly sharing these stories helps build the perception that what you are saying really is a magical solution, and it sets many people up to believe that it will have similar benefits, which can perpetuate a placebo effect.

A placebo effect is when you experience a positive change from doing something because you expected to experience a positive change. So, if I start drinking celery juice and I believe it has magical healing properties, I will look for every reason why it has a positive effect on my health. This can lead to a perception that whatever you are trying is having a larger positive effect than it is.

In the case of the 1,000 people above that tried the method, some of the 40% who felt a little better might also think that they feel better than they do after they hear the stories, the 40% who no better may think they need to try whatever method is being promoted for longer, or in a different way to get the benefits, and the 10% who feel terrible are often told they are detoxing and can also be made to feel like they are not doing something right or need to keep doing it for longer…

And you rinse and repeat this process repeatedly to build up the testimonials and convert as many people as possible towards believing in your methodology. Because of the way you set it up, “I have this special answer that the government is hiding from you and you won’t find elsewhere,” the people that believe in you will usually tell lots of other people about it.

This helps grow your reach and build a larger and larger following of people who believe that you have specialized answers.

Occasionally you will have people from that 10% who are harmed by the protocols that you are recommending who will speak out about their experiences. But it can be easy to block and silence these people from reaching the audiences that you are trying to persuade.

Additionally, if you do a good enough job at positioning yourself as a guru you will likely have built a strong cult-like following of people who will also step up and defend you from any criticism because “it worked for them.”

And there you have it, this is how you position yourself as a health and nutrition guru.

But this is not without consequences.

The Harm That This Does

Let’s say that you are living with a chronic health problem. You are desperate for an answer, and you come across one of these gurus who claim to have the answer to your problems.

You buy into the belief, and you give it a try. You feel a little bit better at first, so you stick with it and continue to double down on these methods expecting them to produce the magical healing results that are being promoted.

But they never come…

And you have been led to believe that this is THE ANSWER.

Often paired with marketing that also causes you to distrust the medical system and believe that no one else can help you because that is how these GURUs often position themselves.

And this is how we have cases like Stephanie’s that were covered in the Vanity Fair article outlined above…

Or one of my clients, Emma, was led to believe that one of these restrictive diets was going to heal her Crohn’s disease, which led her to become malnourished and hospitalized on the verge of death.

Or a mother who I spoke to who put her child on a \Medical Medium protocol for Eczema which caused her condition to worsen and left her feeling lost and scared.

Or the 100s and probably 1,000s of people who have experienced negative health consequences buying into the idea of a carnivore diet.

These cases are not uncommon. People just don’t like to talk about them. They are often embarrassed that they fell for it and are often afraid of the backlash that comes with speaking out.

I, and several others, have received letters directly from Anthony William’s lawyer threatening litigation.

These exploitive tactics can have grave consequences, and the gurus that promote them are often willing to do anything in their power to keep the truth from being exposed.

Curious to learn more? Listen to the in-depth discussion on how self-proclaimed gurus exploit the public at the Nutrition Science Podcast.