This weekend I binged the ‘Anything for Selena’ podcast and I loved it. The brand-new podcast is hosted by Maria Garcia, a Mexican-American woman who saw herself in Selena in a variety of ways. The way in which this podcast captures the legacy of Selena is unlike any other, they do a deep dive of Selena’s symbolism in American culture and how even after 25 years of her death, Selena continues to be a cultural icon in the Latinx community.
This show had me reflect on my own experience and thoughts on Selena. I was still living in Mexico when Selena died, but a year later I’d be immigrating to the United States with my family and feeling connected to the Tejano star in ways that gave me comfort in the new country I called home.
Selena was and is the epitome of cool in my eyes. She could sing, dance, and make her own clothing. I wanted to be JUST like her. But now that I think about it, (and after a lot of conversations about identity) I realize I wanted to be her not because of her singing or dancing but because she was so authentic. Her Mexican-American identity came through and she was so unapologetic about it, I was truly inspired.
When we came to the United States in 1996, I had many fears about what my life would be like. As an immigrant and first-generation child, I had all kinds of issues figuring out who I was and where I belonged. Selena made me feel like I belonged, making it cool to just be myself, a little brown girl from Texas.
Selena has become an icon for many reasons and I’ve come to realize that she is idolized because for Mexican-American women like myself and many Latinas, she mirrors our lives as bi-cultural women. Selena was able to cross borders and face the challenges of two countries, two languages, and two nuanced cultures. Navigating this bi-cultural identity can often leave you feeling like you’re not enough for either community.
You’re never American enough and you’re never Mexican enough. The in-between can be a space of confusion and Selena’s success in this space demonstrated what was possible for bi-cultural women. It demonstrated that imperfect Spanish was okay, that curves were celebrated, and that unconventional beauty was beautiful! It celebrated Latinas.
For these reasons and a few others, the ‘Anything for Selena’ podcast is a breath of fresh air. It reminds us that Selena is an icon for so many more reasons other than her popularized music. It portrays her as a multi-faceted, bold and even flawed woman. It reminds us that we can become the heroes in our own stories and embrace who we are.
Yes, we’re all still figuring out our identity. Although I’m well into my adulthood I still feel like that six-year-old crossing the border with my mother – afraid, unsure and confused. I’m still figuring out my space in the world as a Mexican-American but it’s getting easier as I dance to the beat of my own drum. A beat that goes a little bit like this…Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.