Latinitas - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

            “You look like a celebrity!” cried one girl as I entered the room. This was my first time attending one of Latinitas middle school after school clubs, and I had yet to introduce myself. “You look like a celebrity!” she cried again. “Which one?” I asked. She didn’t know the answer to that, but she was fairly certain I was a celebrity despite my insistence that I was not.
                Once everyone was sufficiently star-struck, the meeting continued. Because I was subbing in for a sick club leader, we engaged in a series of ice breakers, followed by personal introductions, and a telling Q&A session.
                 Since Latinitas is an online magazine, Sam, my fellow club leader and I, asked the girls about their favorite magazines. The immediate storm of responses all pointed to teen magazines aimed at capturing the latest celebrity gossip, drama, and general heartbeat of star-studded culture. The girls liked celebrities, posters of celebrities, quizzes revealing their celebrity crushes, embarrassing celebrity stories, and telenovela magazines.
                Our follow up question proved no different. “What are you doing for Spring Break?” and “What kind of music do you girls like?” gave us celebrity heavy answers. The One Direction concert was what one girl cited as her Spring break entertainment, and she was traveling from Austin to Houston, TX to make that happen. Favorite musicians included such big name stars as Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Selena Gomez, Beyonce, and Justin Beiber.
                Following up our Q&A we moved into our formal lesson: the basics of video programming using a program called “Scratch.” We asked the girls to brainstorm worlds in which this video game would take place, who their characters would be, and what the goal of the game would be.  They came up with celebrities, on a dance floor, competing to perform various dance moves correctly.
                I was shocked. In less than two hours I had been exposed to more celebrities than I am usually exposed to in the space of a week. Growing up, I didn’t idolize celebrities in the same way that I see these young girls doing, which left me reflecting on the answers to various questions: Is the focus on and obsession with celebrity a negative thing for today's youth? Is it a positive thing? Why the increased interest in celebrities? Because the idea of celebrity is now more accessible via mediums such as reality TV, do young girls feel that their future lies within the realm of celebrity? What do you girls think? 

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Comment by Wendy Gonzalez on February 19, 2013 at 2:09pm

Yes There is one who is obssesed with One Direction. Last semester the elementary club was obssesed with Justin Beiber. I feel like as young girls we have always looked at celebrities for fashion inspiration. We look at Celebrities because we often want to adapt a pose. At least thats how I felt like with celebrities when I was younger. I watched Telenovelas and often adapted the style of the protagonist. I remember when I even made my mom pierce my nose because at that time a Telenovela called Lola was very popular and the pritagonist had a nose ring. My mom actually pierced my nose!!....I think that growing up celebrities do help us understand who we want to be. They serve as a template for how you want to see yourself in the future. Now that I am older I realize that celebrities are people just like you and like me. I no longer idolize them. I want to be my own unique persona.

Comment by Andrea Zarate on February 18, 2013 at 10:50am

Celebrity admiration by youth has been around forevs. I remember being into Britney Spears in elementary school and The Breakfast Club in high school. I really looked to tv and movies for role models and yeah some might not be the best but some really showed me that you didn't have to be like everyone else to be cool and whatnot.

So I feel like celebrity culture isn't all negative but isn't all positive either. It really depends on how we can filter the unhealthy celebrity figures from the positive ones. BUT we also should be aware at all times that these people aren't more important than the people that aren't "famous" like our grandmothers and teachers.

One example I always think of is Lady Gaga. She's a great celebrity figure for queer youth on the mainstream level because she is openly saying that she is gay and proud. But, then again she very dependent on consumer culture; kids have to buy her merch. So it really makes you wonder how much is an act to make profit. Consumerism and materialism are things to be weary of because youth see these wealthy celebrities and connect that with being of worth. But what about the prima in your family that is gay. I feel she can be a better influence and role model than Lady Gaga.




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