For my alter ego project I was a chola. At first I did not know what to choose as my alter ego. But after some thinking and looking through different identities I decided to become a chola. I thought it would be interesting to dress, act, and look like a chola because I am definitely not like one at all. For those of you that do not know what cholas are, they are Mexican or Mexican-American girls who are typically in a gang. It originally meant someone who was of a mixed descent. The meaning varies in different areas, but it has to do with someone’s income and their manner of dress. The term cholo came after the Pachuco style faded away since the new style was much more casual. I was inspired to be a chola since I am a Mexican American and I did not know very much about cholos and I also wanted to experience it firsthand.
My normal style is very diverse, I tend to dress casual sometimes, but I mainly like to dress girly. I like to wear bright colors, floral prints, knits, nylons, and clothes that are totally different from cholas. I tend to wear mostly natural makeup with red lipstick and eyeliner; I do not spend too much time doing it. I like to wear my hair straight or curly with straight bangs. I knew that in my alter ego my style, makeup, and hair would totally change.
Some before pictures of how I normally look:
For my makeover I wore a white wife beater khaki pants that I bought at Goodwill, two different plaid shirts that I borrowed from my boyfriend a red one and a blue one, blue Nike Cortez’s that I borrowed from my cousin, big bold gold jewelry, and a burgundy bandana.
The night before I tried out my chola look for the first time I was really nervous. I watched Youtube videos on how to act, dress, and look like a chola. The makeup tutorials were the most helpful. I had to practice the night before so that I would not be as lost in the morning. I hoped that I wouldn’t get laughed at or jumped while wearing the outfit.
Being a chola is very high maintenance. It took me a lot longer than usual to get ready in the morning. Getting my eyebrows done just right was pretty difficult every day. Doing my hair took a lot of extra time also. I had to tease it and use a lot of hairspray. I also had to iron my clothes well, especially my pants I had to make sure that they were well creased in the center.
Day 1: November 26th
On my first day as a chola I started off the day by going to school. As I drove to school I tried to get in the mood by listening to much more gangster music than I normally do. Once I got to school I felt nervous and a little embarrassed to get out of my car. While walking to class I got a lot of weird stares and a few double takes from others on campus. Having others look at me like that made me feel very uncomfortable. Once I got to class I received many different reactions. Mostly I just was not recognized at first. Then when they knew who I was they were very surprised to see me in such different attire. One of the students asked, “Is that a new student?” I felt like everyone thought that I looked weird dressed like a chola. Halfway through the school day I just wanted to take off the outfit and change I just was not comfortable. While in other classes I got some positive reactions that liked my chola look. Then I went to my boyfriend’s house and he was not too surprised to see me dressed like that since he helped me plan it out. Our friends invited us to eat and he asked me if I was actually going to go out like that and I said yah! He was a little embarrassed but I told him not to be. Once we were out with our friends one of them told me, “Why are you wearing that?” My other friend told me, “Haha that’s typical you always dress weird.” Then I felt even more uncomfortable because I wondered if I actually looked as weird as everyone made me feel. I was not looking forward to the next days as a chola.
Day 2: November 30th
The next day I was a little more prepared for people’s reactions and just thought positive. This time around I tried to incorporate much more of the chola attitude since I did not put it out as much the first day. I also added a bandana and wore a red plaid shirt with everything else the same as the first day. It was hard for me to act like a chola because I always want to smile at everyone, but I felt like I should not. I added the bandana since my hair would not stay up the first day. I started off the second day by going to Monte Dollar, a ghetto store in my neighborhood. I need to get the bandana there. While inside everyone was staring. One of the ladies inside saw me and laughed at me. While the worker was ringing me up she just smiled, but I could tell she really wanted to laugh. I got my bandana then I went to a park in my city with my boyfriend. I specifically chose this park because I knew that some cholos actually hang out there. I was excited but a little scared that a real chola might say something to me. Luckily no one approached us, but I did get stared at a lot. Then I went to my aunt’s house. My family actually liked my outfit. They were happy that I was trying out the chola look. I was actually pretty surprised with their approval of the look, but it made me feel a lot better about my new look. I felt like I could actually wear it one more day.
Day 3: December 1st
The last day as my alter ego I ran errands with my mom most of the day. I went to Joann’s, Best Buy, Target, and got some food. My mom chose to go out with me on this day because she was scared that something would happen to me if I went out as a chola by myself. I told her I would be fine but she insisted to tag along. My dad also saw me and asked if I just really liked the look and if I wanted to become a chola now, he was worried about me. But I told him I only had one more day of the look and I was done. While shopping in all of the stores that we went to, everyone stared at me. I felt like I had a huge sign on me attracting attention. I think I made some people feel uncomfortable also. Most older people that I saw me would look at me and quickly look away, as if something were wrong with me. At Joann’s one of the workers was extremely nice to me, she even looked for extra coupons to give me discounts on the items I bought. I was not sure if she was nice because she liked my look, or if she was just scared of me. I assumed she just really liked my look, hopefully. This day went pretty well I started getting used to the stares and laughs from everyone, they did not faze me as much as they had on my first day.
I learned that I should not judge others or laugh at them if I do not like their style because it is not fun being on the other side getting laughed at. I thought about Alexander McQueen and one of his quotes. “You can’t please everyone!” He was talking about design but it also has to do with styling choices and you can’t always please everyone. It is important to stick to what you like. I also thought about the clothing communication chapter in our readings. This chapter particularly stood out to me. My clothes were saying so much to everyone that was staring at me and laughing at me. I was being judged and stereotyped just because of what I was wearing which I thought was completely unfair.
Overall my experience as my alter identity was pretty interesting. It was not as fun as I thought it would be. I enjoyed dressing up and doing my hair and makeup; getting glamorous was fun. But the experience in the public was not as fun. I did not enjoy being stared at by most people that I walked by. I also did not enjoy getting laughed by strangers. I learned that some people are mean and will make you feel uncomfortable out of their own pleasure. Even with the bad moments I did have enjoy my time as a chola. I thought that the clothes were very comfortable. The makeup and hair were not as comfortable since I had to retouch my hair and makeup a lot. My eyebrows were especially annoying since I smudged them off a lot on accident. This whole experience sounds very negative, but I got to see how people that actually dress like cholas feel. It was interesting to step into the shoes of someone else’s lifestyle. I do not think that I will go out as a chola any time soon again. But I might incorporate some of the chola aspects into my own style.