Photo: Courtesy of Juan Veloz.
“We been poppin’,” Monica Veloz (known as @monicastylemuse on amusing media) says while pointing to her amber bark center through a Get Ready With Me video. “Y’all aloof begin out — but we been poppin’.” Those sentiments were allotment of a aboveboard chat the 27-year-old adorableness influencer had with her followers in a video blue-blooded “I Chose My Career Over My Family.” In it, Veloz opens up about advancing of age in her Dominican domiciliary and growing to be assured in her skin.
Her honesty, alloyed with a alluring and accepted energy, is what draws in over 300 thousand bodies to accompany Veloz’s #MuseFamilia on YouTube. Since abutting the belvedere in 2011, the Brooklyn built-in has developed to be one of the best accepted Afro-Latina influencers, and she puts her character at the beginning of her online persona. “People ask me why I consistently acknowledge that I am Afro-Latina,” she tells Refinery29. “‘Oh, why do you consistently say that? You’re either Dominican, or you’re Black.'”
But in the YouTube creator’s case, both are an basic allotment of her identity. “I am a Black woman first,” she says. “When I move through the world, association doesn’t see a Dominican babe or whatever [the media] has fabricated Latinas attending like. They see a Black woman.” It’s why Veloz finds the appellation Afro-Latina a applicable representation of who she is.
“Growing up, it wasn’t accepted to see bodies who looked like me. I’ve consistently acquainted like I had to prove that I was Dominican,” she says. “I’ve had bodies acquaint me that I am way too dark-skinned to be Dominican. It’s still alarming that some bodies don’t apperceive that you can be Black and allege Spanish, or be Black and Dominican, or Honduran, or Mexican.”
When you see Veloz on YouTube these days, she’s generally speaking Spanish and administration aboveboard glimpses into her activity and family. However, in the aboriginal canicule of her YouTube channel, Veloz recorded her videos, exclusively, in English. “When I aboriginal started my channel, I approved to be actual prim and proper. I didn’t appetite to be too loud, too extra, too outspoken,” she says. “I feel like that goes aback to the abstraction of Black bodies activity like they accept to abolish themselves to fit in.” But back Veloz accomplished that there was a audacious abridgement of ability and representation from the Afro-Latina association on YouTube, she began to appearance added of my unfiltered cocky and acclimated it as an befalling to brainwash her followers on her culture. Now, all of her agreeable is bilingual.
“When I move through the world, association doesn’t see a Dominican babe or whatever [the media] has fabricated Latinas attending like. They see a Black woman.”
The alteration wasn’t seamless, though, and Veloz faced affluence of unsolicited opinions. “I’ve had bodies say they would analysis my DNA, and I’ve had bodies alarm me Haitian as an insult, which is the extreme affair from calumniating to me.” Veloz additionally adds that she was ridiculed by added Latinx admirers for her Spanish skills. “I’ve been told that I speak, what is considered, argot or artery Spanish,” she explains. “But why does that accomplish me beneath of who I am?”
Although Veloz is proudly Afro-Latinx, there is generally this abstraction that she has to prove her Dominican bloodline. “Unfortunately, colorism is still actual accustomed in the Dominican culture, and I still appointment it,” she says, referencing an accident she abounding for Latinx influencers a few years ago. “When I absolved in, it was like the bodies there saw a unicorn,” she says. “It put into angle that — alike today — in our association if you accept a specific appearance you’re still advised an outcast by many, and it’s like no, mi amor, I can sing Marc Anthony aloof like you.”
The appulse of colorism in Dominican ability afflicted the way Veloz approached adorableness as a Black woman, creating the basal burden to consistently attending able and fit into European adorableness standards. “In my culture, we’re not accomplished to embrace our accustomed hair,” she says. “We’re accomplished to administer it, cut it, and align it. So growing up, I didn’t anticipate my beard was appealing abundant or continued enough.” This resulted in Veloz consistently straightening her beard at the Dominican salon. “I got a desrizado [relaxer] every six weeks, a wash-and-set every Saturday,” she says. “I alone chock-full accepting perms about bristles years ago. Now I’ve gotten to a abode area I am blessed with who I am — whether my accustomed beard is out or I accept a 30-inch wig on.”
“It’s never too backward to embrace who you are.”
Those aforementioned standards are what concluded up sparking Veloz’s accord with makeup. “As a Black woman, I feel like you consistently accept to be on top of your game,” she says. “It’s, honestly, how I got into makeup, by aggravating to adumbrate the rashes on my skin,” Veloz says, apropos to her attempt with eczema and acne. “We accept to be aberrant at all times, and association leaves little allowance for mediocrity. I acquainted conditioned to accept that isn’t wasn’t adapted to appearance my bald skin.” But now Veloz generally starts her videos animated with a makeup-free face and a anhydrate captivated about her head.
PHoto: Courtesy of Juan Veloz.
Veloz acknowledges that the burden to prove herself exists, but she’s not affairs into it. Instead, she’s application the belvedere she’s congenital to actualize a safe amplitude for adolescent Afro-Latinx bodies to alive their truth. “I am a appreciative Afro-Latina and that is abundant for me. I am allotment of a alive narrative.” That shift, Veloz hopes, will end in a abode area Afro-Latinx bodies feel empowered to embrace their Afro-roots and their Latin culture. “I apperceive that in today’s climate, it can be scary, but it’s never too backward to embrace who you are. It’s up to our bearing to abide to change these cultural stigmas so that our kids aren’t abashed of their accustomed beard or abashed to sit in the sun in abhorrence of accepting dark. We are beautiful, and we should be appreciative of who we are.”
Being Latinx in America is no accessible thing. Fighting pressures to carelessness our culture, traditions, and heritage, we’re abstraction out a different character in America that’s all our own. In a alternation of essays, appear articles, and belief for Refinery29’s #SomosLatinx, we’ll analyze the different issues that affect the association during Latinx Ancestry Month from September 15-October 15.
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