When you hear the word chola, what do you think of? For me it is the makeup first, and the bad ass attitude second. I am not sure what order was intended but for me it's the signature brown lined lips, matte eye shadow, and cat eye that come to mind right away. As a kid, I devoured documentaries and shows about all walks of life. Growing up in the 90's, gang culture was at an all time high. As a result, television capitalized on this by featuring lots of shows on the subject matter. My favorite tv special was when they featured the chola aka homegirl. Their style fascinated me. So where did this aesthetic come from? We are gunna break it down in a good old history lesson..............
Where: Los Angeles,CA
When: Early 1940's, WWII era
The chola, originally called a "pachuca", movement was a direct result of the Mexican Repatriation, which was the illegal deportation of Mexican Americans, many of whom were already US born citizens, (the US has so many stains on its hands, its embarrassing). It was during this time that Mexican Americans began to rebel against forced assimilation. The men donned zoot suits, while the women embraced exaggerated teased hair, red lipstick, and tight sweaters and shorter skirts (at the time these looks were seen as controversial, nowadays not so much).
1960's, 70's and beyond:
This is where the gang attire began to appear. Gangs emerged as a way to promote family, pride, and a sense of identity. This served as a way to preserve the culture that they were told to abandon. Eventually the Chola attire changed to dickies pants, door knocker earrings, and converses. This practical style was adapted from the low-budget lifestyle of the community, which mainly consisted of blue collar workers.
In some ways, this style has faded for many but it still serves as a great sense of pride in the power of womanhood. Chola women were seen as powerful, tough, and equal counterparts to the cholos. These women did not just sit around looking stylish, they were an integral part of the community and could fight their own battles.
In Pop Culture:
Chola style has been glamorized in Hollywood, from Gwen Stefani to Fergie to major fashion brands, Hollywood elite has grabbed from these iconic looks for inspiration. Although inspiring, it is so so important to understand the history behind this look! This is not just a style choice, it is also a reflection of their everyday life which was and is not always so glamorous. A good pop culture reference would be the film Mi Vida Loca from 1994, which follows two best friends Sadgirl and Mousie and how their friendship is formed through the chola/homegirl lifestyle and the trials and tribulations of ganglife in Echo Park.
I would like to mention that although beautiful to look at, many were or are members of gangs and I am not trying to glamorize this lifestyle. This is merely a look at this beauty ritual, which I find to be fascinating. I read an article about cholas and it compared the makeup stylings of a chola woman with their male counterparts relationship with graffiti. This was and still is a way to represent their community, heritage, and creative aesthetic. Long live the chola. Check out the links below for more on cholas, educate yaselves puhleaze.
Mi Vida Loca
Real Cholas Rate Celebrity Chola Inspired Looks