Revolutionizing Latinx Femininity: The Story Behind Brown Badass Bonita Kim Guerra

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 Media. “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 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. 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 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.”

vibrant graphic design featuring two female wrestlers in action

Picture this: the grand arena hums with the electricity of expectation and the clamor of a thousand voices, all waiting for the spectacle of the age-old Mexican tradition of Lucha Libre, a wrestling style born in the heart of Mexico in the early 20th century.

The combatants aren’t mere wrestlers; they are luchadores, artists of acrobatics and theatricality, their faces hidden behind vibrant masks that carry stories older than the very sport they represent, stories rooted in the legacy of the ancient Aztecs.

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Women in Texas at the National Women's March, rallying against deadly abortion restrictions.
Lucy Flores

The landscape of abortion rights in the United States has become more restrictive than ever in recent history, particularly in Arizona and Florida, where recent developments represent a major setback for women’s reproductive rights. On April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a 4-to-2 decision to uphold an 1864 law banning abortion from the moment of conception. The only exception is saving the mother’s life, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest under this law.

Just a few days earlier, on April 1, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled in favor of upholding a 6-week abortion ban, which will take effect on May 1. This further reduced the legal threshold for abortions in Florida, which used to be 24 weeks of pregnancy before Republicans passed a law in 2022 banning abortions after 15 weeks. Both of these rulings have sparked intense debate and outrage about their impact on women’s rights.

Overview of the Near-Total Abortion Ban in Arizona

The Arizona Supreme Court voted to uphold an 1864 law, a law passed even before the state officially was a part of the United States of America, that makes all types of abortion illegal, including medication abortion, from the moment of conception. Though there are exceptions in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, the ban makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest and imposes severe penalties, including imprisonment, on medical professionals performing abortions.

Medical professionals have spoken out about how dire the situation will become for women with this near-total abortion ban. Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical director of Planned Parenthood in Arizona, told CNN that this ruling will have “absolutely unbelievable consequences for the patients in our community.” She continued by saying, “Providers need to be able to take care of their patients without fear of legal repercussions and criminalization.”

Representatives from Arizona and other states across the country have also spoken up against this near-total abortion ban.

Video by Shontel Brown Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramVideo by Shontel Brown Member of the United States House of Representatives on Instagram

Image by Rub\u00e9n Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramImage by Rubén Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramImage by Rubén Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on Instagram

Until this Arizona Supreme Court decision, abortion had been legal in the state up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. The right to abortion via Roe v. Wade prevented the enforcement of the near-total abortion ban, but since a majority vote in the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe, those opposed to abortion rights had been fighting to enforce the 160-year-old 1864 law.

This new abortion ban in Arizona is not effective immediately as the court has paused its ruling for 14 days until additional arguments are heard in a lower court about how constitutional the law is. However, the law will likely come into effect in May, a few weeks from now. Planned Parenthood Arizona, the largest abortion provider in the state, will continue serving the community until the ban is enforced.

An Overview of Florida's Six-Week Abortion Ban

The landscape of abortion in Florida has also undergone a significant change with the enforcement of a 6-week abortion ban, replacing the previous 15-week limit. This ban, similar to Arizona's, severely restricts access to abortion care and poses a significant challenge to reproductive rights in the state. Providers are bracing for a public health crisis due to the increased demand for abortion and limited options for patients.

Practically speaking, a 6-week abortion ban is a near-total abortion ban because pregnant people often don’t even realize they could be pregnant by this early stage. Combined with Florida’s strict abortion requirements, which include mandatory in-person doctor visits with a 24-hour waiting period, it’s nearly impossible for those who may want an abortion to be able to access it before 6 weeks. Not to mention that fulfilling the requirements is particularly challenging for low-income individuals.

Video by theluncheonlawyer on InstagramVideo by theluncheonlawyer on Instagram

Moreover, this Florida law also restricts telemedicine for abortion and requires that medication be provided in person, effectively eliminating mail-order options for abortion pills. While exceptions for rape and incest exist in Florida, the requirements are also strict, asking victims to provide police records or medical records. For victims who don’t always report sexual violence for many different reasons, these exceptions don’t make a difference.

The consequences of Florida’s ban extend to neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. For instance, residents of Alabama, facing a total ban on abortion, and Georgia, with its own 6-week abortion ban, have relied on Florida for abortion services. That will no longer be an option, further limiting care alternatives.

The Road Ahead

These recent abortion bans in Arizona and Florida are a major setback for women's rights, particularly impacting Latina women who already face barriers to accessing quality healthcare. These bans not only restrict women’s reproductive freedom but also endanger their lives.

Efforts to challenge these bans through legal means and ballot measures are ongoing, but the road ahead is uncertain. While there’s hope for overturning these abortion bans, the challenges of conservative laws and legal battles are formidable. The November ballot in both states will be crucial in determining the future of abortion rights and access for all.