By Lore Acevedo Photos by Tomas Uribe
Paisa femininity in 2010 is as controversial a topic now as it was during the feminist waves of the 20th century, and the concept is again being transformed by the cultural dynamics of the city. Some time ago femininity in Medellin morphed into a look and attitude that was hyper-focused on “the body”; femininity and sexuality thus became synonymous with the images of pre-pagos and grillas. The challenge we now face is to redefine femininity without the baggage of overtly sexual icons.
To back up for a moment, a few notes on being a woman in Medellin during the last few decades. The desire and capability to make fast money in Medellin, a city with a large gap between the rich and poor, lent a sort of bizarre social equity to the promotion of a certain aesthetic being applied to the notion of female beauty. Women in Medellin, already known for being beautiful, kind, sweet, and hard working, soon amassed a burden of expectations whereby their value was increasingly slanted towards physical beauty.
The city tacitly complied with this change. Beauty queens and runway shows from the textile and fashion fairs (the biggest and most important of the country) extended their reach to streets, parks, universities and clubs; anyplace was now a forum to hold a beauty fair. In this environment, beauty for some women has become an all-encompassing obsession. Daily life is a fashion show, and many participate in society as mere mannequins. Worse, those wildly obsessed with being “in shape” often resort to extreme diets, anorexia and bulimia, in response to which the Mayor’s office ultimately stepped in and created an anti-anorexia/bulimia campaign.
In Medellin’s valley of vanity, it is time to get out of the silicon mold and just let your hair get all messed up in the rain. The scalpel, the diets, and a narrow concept of beauty pretend to foster an authentic feminine paisa, which is decidedly not genuine. Medellin is now a city with an international outlook, increasingly visited by foreigners; our women should be known for their character, wits, and natural beauty, not an amalgamation of shallowness.
Many women have carried this fight, and their challenge now is to continue doing it while inviting others to join them in the struggle for authenticity. The concept of a feminine paisa cannot be based on looks alone. Being feminine is a matter of attitude; it comes from within, and it emerges when one realizes that every person has something unique that makes her attractive.
In the city of eternal spring, eternal youth does not exist. Our bodies change over time, and even silicon is by no means permanent. It is one’s personal essence that is eternal; it is one’s attitude that shapes real beauty, and that is what real paisa femininity is all about.
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