Being an immigrant has granted me the opportunity to recognize my value and purpose in the society we live in nowadays. I have become cognizant of the big responsibility I have as a Mexican immigrant woman to represent my country, my culture, and my roots.
As artists, we face many obstacles which help us stand for ourselves, learn who we are and for what reason we are here. I believe we have a responsibility to bring awareness to the world, to contribute in any way possible; it doesn't matter if it’s on a big or small scale.
Being away from home made my perspective shift in what I think Mexico is. I have become proud to represent my country in the best way possible, but every time I visit Mexico, I have been exposed to the reality of women being caged and surrounded by a misogynistic and patriarchal society that disrespects our value, stereotyping us as something we are not.
The reality is that it just doesn't happen in Mexico, but all over the world. I believe that as citizens of the world we have a duty to protect our rights, our place, and our function in society. Some people decide to stay silent and look from behind the glass, while others decide to stand up, walk through the glass, and fight for what is right.
I grew up in a society where being a little bigger was synonymous with being ugly and unwanted, where the media constantly dictated how a woman's body is supposed to look. As a result, I struggled with self-image issues for a long time—nine years, actually. Every day, every hour, and every second was flooded by thoughts of self- sabotage, self-doubt, and desperation to reach the goal of being skinny, perfect and wanted. This ideology pushed me to fall into eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. It has been a hard journey of self-discovery, but I can finally say I am free. I have learned to love myself and my body, but most importantly, I have found the ability to show myself to the world as who I really am.
I wanted to create a piece of art that demonstrates the strength of Mexican women celebrating the pureness and the real nature of the human body. Before the shoot, I discussed with Tabata that I am very inspired by Frida Kahlo, as she is an example of a fearless woman who overcame enormous obstacles to stand for her own truth, contributing to Mexican culture like no other. Working with Tabata allowed me to unveil my own freedom; I was fully present in the experience. She is a woman I respect and admire for creating art that empowers and lifts women in a way I have never seen before.
I love the fact that I am being photographed by a woman, who understands all of the issues we face and the insecurities one can have. For me, being able to capture the essence of feeling comfortable in your own skin through a photograph is art. The fact that we were shooting on film made it even more exciting, because we couldn't see how the photos were coming out—everything was very intuitive, organic, and real. I do work like this to bring attention to important issues, break stereotypes, and counter the sexualization of female bodies. In my country, especially, this conversation needs to occur. We must celebrate, love, and lift each other up.
Photos by Tabata Roja.