In The Community
Growing up, our mamas cared for us and kept us safe in any way they possibly could, from coming up with the strangest homemade remedies (that, of course, always worked…or did they?) to stern warnings for just about everything. Many of which we’ve carried on to adulthood, like not stepping descalzos on the floor to avoid catching a cold!
Now that we’re not kids anymore, all that got us wondering…why though? Where do these urban legends come from? And is there any scientific basis for any of it?
Here are 5 of the most commonly heard phrases Latina moms fervently believe, we put on our lab coats to figure out once and for all…are they fact or fiction?
“Te vas a torcer”Freezing Parks And Recreation GIF by MOODMANGiphy
How many times did your mom tell you to cover your face when you go out from a warm place and into the cold, because if you didn’t, “te vas a torcer”? And if you dare question the validity of their statement, they always claim to know someone who’s had this happen to them. Facial paralysis is no joke, and the thought of having part of your face frozen in place from a sudden temperature change can be mortifying. But does this seemingly decades-long urban legend hold any water?
The verdict: Has some truth but no definitive causal connections.
The condition usually described is called Bell’s Palsy, described as temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face, which is caused by an inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles of the face. While the exact cause of the inflammation is still unknown, it’s believed to be related to a viral infection or an autoimmune disorder.
That being said, some studies have suggested that people who are under stress or experiencing illnesses such as upper respiratory infections may be more likely to develop Bell’s palsy. There’s also some research indicating a correlation between temperature changes and Bell’s Palsy; however, this is stll being studied, therefore not definitively clear whether the temperature changes can cause Bell’s Palsy, as research papers continue to find.
So, in this case, while the jury is still out from the scientific community, facial paralysis and temperature changes may have some relationship — We suppose it can’t hurt to listen to our mamas and cover up! It’ll also make them feel better knowing you’re taking precautions for yourself.
“Todavía está bueno”Food Wow GIF by CBCGiphy
As you take out a loaf of bread with a spot of mold growing on the corner, your mom might cut the moldy piece, throw it in the trash, and say, “todavía está bueno.” We know Latina moms will do their best to make the most out of each and every ingredient in their pantry and not let anything go to waste. But when something is starting to go bad, is it still safe to eat if you just remove the ugly part?
The verdict: Depends on the type of food item.
Generally, if the food is perishable, such as bread or dairy products, it’s best to get rid of it as the mold and the bacteria that causes it may have already spread throughout the food.
For some fruits and vegetables, if they are overripe and showing softness or brown discoloration in some spots, those areas can be cut off, and the rest of it can still be eaten. But if it has a strong odor, tastes bad, or is growing even a tiny bit of mold or rot, it’s probably best not to test the digestive gods and throw it out becuase the bacteria or mold that caused the spoilage can quickly spread through the food. Even if the rotten part is cut off, harmful microorganisms may already have spread to other parts of it and could cause food poisoning.
If the food is a hard food, such as cheese or hard salami, it can usually be safely consumed after the mold has been removed because the bacteria aren’t likely to have gone very far. But at the end of the day, it’s probably a good rule of thumb to not mess around with spoiled food.Also, it’s a good idea to instead focus on sustainable food practices rather than trying to salvage old groceries so that you don’t end up with spoiled food to begin with.
“Un bolillo para el susto”Sweating Heat Wave GIFGiphy
After the 6.8 earthquake that happened on September 2022 in Mexico City, a guy made headlines for handing out pieces of bread, or “bolillos,” to people on the streets to help them relax after the awful scare (and lighten up the mood). An age-old antidote after a stressful event, what magical properties do bolillos have that make them a cure for the “susto?”
The verdict: Surprisingly true.
Eating can have a calming effect on the body after experiencing a bad scare or feeling stressed or anxious. This is because certain foods can release chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, that can promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
Certain types of carbohydrates in particular, such as those found in starchy foods like pasta, bread, and potatoes, can boost the production of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mood and can promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. Eating a small serving of these foods can be comforting and help you feel more relaxed after a stressful event. The more you know, huh?
“Una Coca para la presión”Movie Reaction GIFGiphy
Some Latina moms will use Coke as a remedy for just about everything. Feeling tired? Have some coquita to lift yourself up. Your blood pressure is low? Pour yourself a glass, and you’ll feel better. Upset stomach? Mix in a little bit of limón. Is this go-to emergency cure effective, or just some placebo effect?
The verdict: True, though probably not the best advice.
It’s pretty simple, Coca-Cola and other similar caffeinated drinks may help to temporarily increase blood pressure in people with low blood pressure. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause the body’s blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure. So, any caffeinated drink may have the same effect: coffee, energy drinks, or tea.Though it’s certainly not to be used often or as an actual cure, given the fact that consuming it regularly could cause many health problems, including high blood pressure, it may actually help alleviate low blood pressure symptoms like dizziness and weakness temporarily if you need a pick-me-up on the spot and don’t have immediate access to any medication.
“No comas aguacate si estás enojado”Giphy
One of the more urban-legend-y ones, in some households, you were strictly warned against having a bite of avocado after a “coraje.” Why you would want to eat avocado while mad in the first place, we honestly don’t know. But what is it about avocados that would allegedly be so harmful to you if eaten while you’re upset about something?
The verdict: It’s totally false.
We could not find a single shred of evidence to support this claim, even though we were really keen on finding out where it came from. There’s nothing to suggest that eating avocado while stressed or angry would have any negative effect on your body. That being said, stress and anxiety are known to cause cramps and stomachaches for some people, so it wouldn’t be surprising if eating literally anything would just upset your stomach more. So, avocado is definitely not the culprit. Let nobody keep you away from that guacamole! Maybe wait for a bit, though.
Are there any other Latine myths, remedies, or questionable claims you would like to see verified or debunked? Hit us up at @theluzmedia!
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The dynamics within Latino families are experiencing significant transformations, particularly around values and cultural traditions. In many Latino families, older generations tend to hold onto conventional and strict norms. However, the second-generation of Latine Americans, those born in the U.S. with at least one immigrant parent, tends to include an increase in Latinas who are shedding obsolete notions and traditions and challenging these dynamics with a more open mindset.
This generational shift is paving the way for even more cultural change amongst the third-generation, creating a fascinating, and often stressful, intergenerational dynamic.
First-Generation: A Retrospective View
Most of these Latinos usually stick to traditional roles that are deeply rooted in our cultural background. Behaviors based on the patriarchal structure, machismo, and marianismo persistently endure, expecting women to assume domestic responsibilities and prioritize the family over personal ambitions. This pushes a narrative that overlooks their individual dreams and potential beyond conventional roles.
Second-gen Latinas often have firsthand experience with intrusive questions from family members, reflecting rigid views on what women should be, and what they are expected to do with their lives.
The cultural values of many of these Latino relatives are anchored in maintaining the family unit and defending the beliefs passed on from generation to generation. Sacrifice and dedication are expected and often go unnoticed or acknowledged as newer generations struggle to balance tradition with cultural change. This often leads to higher rates of mental health issues, often referred to as “first-generation trauma.”
As the children of immigrants struggle to adapt, these first-generation immigrants also have to process the change and resistance to their outdated views and behaviors that they often don’t even realize are problematic.
Second-Generation: Transitioning Perspectives
As Latino families assimilate new paradigm shifts and embrace opportunities in more diverse societies, the second-generation is at the forefront of a mindset transformation, mirroring a historical pattern observed in various immigrant groups in the U.S., where these individuals tend to follow fewer cultural restrictions than previous generations.
Many have been influenced by diverse perspectives, education, and professional opportunities, and are challenging traditional gender roles with confidence and conviction.
The second-generation is boldly pursuing career and personal goals that were unthinkable and unattainable to their parents while maintaining a balance between staying true to who they are, honoring their cultural values, and acknowledging what needs to change.
In her personal essay titled "Celebrating Latinas," Fabiola Robles, who identifies as a Latinx scholar, wrote, “I know I’m not the only one that experienced this, why does it feel like a choice for Latinas? The academic life or the family life? We can have both. We should have both, and we should also celebrate it.”
Empowering Third-Generation Latino Youth
Now, we have aunts and uncles who, instead of asking, "Y el novio, mija?" are actively embracing their role as catalysts for continued transformation. They support today's youth in forging paths free from the constraints of family and social expectations that were once restrictive for them and their parents.
Many times, it's the family crew itself —be it from aunts, uncles, and godmothers—who not only provide emotional encouragement but also offer tangible assistance, including financial support. And sometimes, that support extends beyond the immediate family to community networks, where open-mindedness becomes a driving force for nurturing positive transformations.
Latine Perspectives on Change
The changing dynamics within Latine families are not without challenges. The shift in mindset often creates tension between generations, as older members grapple with changing traditions. Nevertheless, numerous Latine families are handling these changes with grit, sticking to their cultural roots while still rolling with the progress.
Latine voices are crucial in this conversation, offering unique perspectives on the intersectionality of culture, gender, and generational change.
As Robles writes in her essay, “Let's normalize celebrating our accomplishments outside of traditional female roles. I want to normalize having a madrina (godmother) de los college textbooks and a padrino (godfather) for the gas money to visit home. Another set of godparents to help purchase dorm gear and a madrina who sends you quarters for laundry. Si, send the ramen y las cobijas (blankets), we need all the support we can get. Imagine if our college graduation announcements had as much pomp and circumstance as those long wedding invites with all the madrinas and padrinos sponsoring the events? Te imaginas?”
By engaging in open conversations, building mutual understanding, and collectively upholding family values, Latine families are creating a more inclusive environment that empowers individuals across all generations.
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There are about 3.39 million Latine families in the United States led by single mothers, this isn't just a statistic; it’s the vivid reality of Latinas shouldering the responsibility of parenting without the active support of a co-parent figure.
For many, the historical passivity adopted by some generations towards absent fatherhood still resonates deeply in our cultural roots. The phrase "déjelo en manos de dios, mija" has been passed down from generation to generation as a resigned comfort in the face of disconnected fathers. It’s the old, boys will be boys line.
This leaves women to shoulder the burden of raising children on their own without much expectation of receiving help from the father. Latino culture often expects women to be unreasonably “strong” and capable of handling any situation that comes their way. A 2016 review of child support claims found that 83% of all custodial parents were mothers, and of these custodial mothers, 56% of white mothers were awarded child support versus only 44% of Latinas.
Lower claims of child support are only one very limited way in which cultural self-sufficiency expectations manifest themselves. This can also lead to emotional isolation and extreme pressure to keep up. In an interview with “Parents Magazine” Ernestina Perez, a Mexican-American therapist and founder of Latinx Talk Therapy, said, "There's a lot of stigma around single motherhood in the Latino community because of traditional gender norms that view men as the protectors and financial providers, and women as the selfless, do-it-all caretakers."
As culture continues to shift and outdated machista beliefs are dismantled, many different approaches to tackling absent fathers are being taken.
When fathers skip out on their financial responsibilities, it’s important that Latinas pursue a child support claim. Single moms don’t have to just grin and bear it. Latinas already face too many economic disparities, including consistently having the largest wage gap of all women, to have this add to the economic stress. In 2022, almost 30% of Latine single-mom families were struggling financially. When Latinas don’t pursue child support, it keeps fueling a poverty cycle and upholds unreasonable gender expectations.
Where are the Fathers? Why aren't they Taking Responsibility?
In the Latine community, where old-school gender roles still have a say, patriarchal culture directly influences fatherhood expectations. It’s a common experience for young women to be kept at home under strict rules while young men are allowed to go out at their pleasure, without any sexual education or warnings to abstain from, or practice safe sex.
This adds to the lack of accountability when a man does end up impregnating a young girl or woman, while shifting the burden and “blame” to the young girl or woman for not heeding the warnings of their family.
Factors like migration also contribute to the splitting of families. From harsh immigration policies that regularly deport one or both parents to inhumane border security policies that continue to separate parents from their children, women are often left as sole caregivers of separated families.
Latino men are also experiencing a positive role model crisis. There’s been a downward trend of Latino men pursuing higher education, and the Latina versus Latino education gap continues to widen. Even as the number of Latinas/os attending college has steadily grown over the last few decades, the proportional representation of Latino men continues to slide in comparison to their Latina counterparts.
The stigma around seeking mental health support is more pronounced in men versus women, and it’s even worse in the Latino community. Research indicates that Latinas are more open to seeking support than Latino men, which leaves them attempting to deal with their challenges on their own. Not to mention that Latino men are also still facing the same issues that Latinas face: discrimination, disproportionate poverty, absent fathers, and cultural norms that teach them harmful behaviors.
The disproportionate absence of fathers in the Latino community is extremely complex and nuanced. The causes mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of fully understanding the nature of the problem, but even with this superficial understanding, some solutions can be identified.
How Can We Begin to Solve the Absent Father Problem?
Raising a New Generation of Empowered Children:
Latina moms have the power to shift things for the better. Teaching our kids how to challenge concepts of toxic machismo and irresponsible behaviors is an essential task. This isn’t limited to moms; on the contrary, despite there being a disproportionate amount of single moms, there’s an even bigger number of families with active fathers, and they are taking on the responsibility of raising their kids differently than how they were raised.
Breaking Down Traditional Masculinity:
As gender roles continue to shift across generations, ditching the old-school view of masculinity is gaining momentum. Both women and men are actively challenging the harmful notions that femininity and masculinity are traits that are limited to certain genders. Groups like Bloom Homi, which are led by Latino men, are actively working to change the expectations of Latino men and are working to build communities of support where men can feel supported as they participate in dismantling machismo.
Meanwhile, Latina-led parenting groups like Latinx Parenting are not only providing support for moms but also building an inclusive community that actively brings Latino dads into the fold, ensuring that there’s space for everyone who wants to learn how to disrupt harmful cycles of family dysfunction.
It’s no secret that parental leave in the U.S. is shamefully lacking compared to other comparable nations. Only 21% of U.S. workers have access to paid parental leave, and while under FMLA, families are entitled to at least 12 weeks of parental leave, all this does is guarantee that they won’t be fired from their jobs. If they decide to take family leave, it’s unpaid, and most families can’t afford to be unemployed for three months.
Even when paid parental leave is offered, paternity leave is even less accessible than maternity leave. New dads are still expected to fulfill the “breadwinner” role, while moms are left to fulfill their childbearing and child-caring role, despite a significant amount of research confirming the many positive effects paternal newborn bonding has on both the dad and the newborn.
Changing Media Narratives About Dads:
The portrayal of dads in media has a massive impact on how they are expected to behave in real life. Studies have found that there are two main ways in which dads are portrayed in media. On one hand, men are rarely portrayed as nurturers and are relegated to the hard, cold, but steadfast stereotype of protector and provider. On the other, they are shown as incompetent, foolish, and emotionally disconnected parents, where competent, wise, emotionally connected mothers must often come to the rescue of those fathers.
Latino dads are portrayed even more negatively because of the severe lack of Latino representation in the media. There are so few roles for Latino men that they haven’t even made much of a dent in fatherhood portrayals, much less changing those roles to address machismo and reflect any positive change that’s occurring in Latino culture.Just as it is imperative to change media portrayals of Latinas in media, the same has to be done for Latino men, especially as it relates to family gender roles and dynamics.
Supporting Community Spaces and Men’s Groups:
No, we’re not talking about the incels who hate women and blame them for all their problems. We’re talking about the exact opposite.
Men’s groups are popping up all over the country and are a place where men and dads can swap stories, pick up tips, and have each other's backs. Like any group, they all have their own dynamic and focus, and sometimes a few have to be tried until a good match is made, but accepting these groups as part of a healthy community is critical to getting men the support they need.
Digital communities like Bloom Homie are contributing to the online eco-system that’s helping to dismantle harmful narratives and also build community amongst men who want to break harmful patriarchal cycles.
While none of these solutions will produce instant improvements, they are all things that everyone of any gender can help implement. While it may not be easy to reduce the amount of absent fathers in Latino households, research shows that it’s attainable, and that alone makes it worth pursuing.