How Omahyra Mota Redefined the Landscape of Latinx Representation while Saving My Life by Mia Rodriguez [incluye traducción al español por la misma autora]

The first time I saw Omahyra Mota I was in the sixth grade. My friend Silva and I were in computer class when we started talking about Jay-Z’s latest music video “Change Clothes” which featured Jay waxing poetic about the current state of fashion among hip hop and rap artists and a full faux runway show resplendent with cameos of everyone from Naomi Campbell to Kelly Ripa. But oddly enough, none of these things had really caught Silva’s attention more than the look of one of the models.  “She had short hair and no boobs, kinda like you,” she said, “and she looks like a boy.” I looked down at my prepubescent body and felt a wave of shame: was she saying I reminded her of the “weird-looking” model in the video? Did that make me ugly in Silva’s eyes? In other’s eyes?

I rushed home after school and tuned into MTV, waiting and scanning the screen until they replayed the video.  When it finally came on, I had to wait almost 3 minutes until I first caught glimpse of Omahyra. There she was, just as Silva had described: tall, brown, boyish and androgynous, tough but still glamorous enough to steal the spotlight from Naomi herself. She was unusual looking; I knew that I had never seen anyone like her before that moment. In the minutes before her appearance, what you mostly see are very Victoria’s Secret-esque models with long silky hair, full makeup, shapely and womanly bodies complete with the oogling of men in the audience of the “fashion show” including Pharrell Williams and Jay himself, all meant to saturated the viewer with the acceptable, “typical,” easily digestible images of women and beauty to be consumed. All my life this was the image of a “woman” I had been presented with, this was all I knew to emulate and strive to be.

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