Ask a Mexican

Red alert! Why do older Mexican women cut and dye their hair?

Dear Mexican: Why, oh, why do most Mexican women cut their long black hair after reaching the pivotal age of forty? Not only do they cut it, but they cut it short and proceed to dye it all shades of the most unnatural hair color for Mexicans: red. My own madre is guilty of this offense, and I see it on all the older women of SanTana! Why is this the case? Why do women in Mexico tend keep their long flowing hair and trencitas, while women here in the States go for the Bozo look? Please help me with this!

A Que Tener Pelo Largo

Dear Wab: Mujeres shearing their locks in el Norte has gone on longer than you think — and it's not just the geezers. "During the 1920s, a woman's decision 'to bob or not bob' her hair assumed classic proportions within Mexican families," wrote University of California, Irvine professor Vicki L. Ruiz in her 1999 book, From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America. She was talking specifically about young mexicanas following gabacho youth trends to the consternation of their elders, but you can use that same rubric with nuestras mothers and aunts. I don't have any empirical data on the number of old ladies with short hair in the U.S., since the AARP isn't exactly the Pew Hispanic Center of viejitos, but nearly every elderly gabacha the Mexican has ever met, seen or heard about uses their pelo corto. I'm not a post-menopausal gal, but methinks it has to do with hair loss, a better framing of the wrinkled face, and the creation of an easier platform to dye those pesky grays. Since Mexicans take to American habits like we do to Reconquista, it follows que Mexican ladies copy their gabacha peers. But why the outrageous hair colores? For once, the Mexican will not dare answer a pregunta, because you just don't question the logic of your madre, whether it's hair color, superstition or her insistence that Vicks VapoRub and 7-Up cure everything. You just don't.

Dear Mexican: Why is it that Mexicans only want to go back to Mexico after they kill a gringo?

Gabe Ocho

Dear Gabacho: Such ignorance, such stupidity, such lies! Lou Dobbs, was that you?

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans put lard in their beans? I don't know any fit-n-trim Mexicans. Even the skinny ones have a li'l belly. I just made some excellent refried beans with Goya extra virgin olive oil and butter. Just wondering.

Skinny White Boy Vegetarian Who Loves Healthy Tex-Mex

Dear Gabacho: Refried beans made with olive oil? Why don't you just add tomato and capers to ruin it even more? Whatever floats your barco, but no need to call us a bunch of fatties along the way. Besides, you're muy wrong. Not only does the Mexican know too many wabby gym rats, all getting their buff bodies ready to further overrun the United States, but lard ain't what gives the gordos their panzas. "My friend Rick Bayless is skinny and he loves lard!" says Robb Walsh, author of The Tex-Mex Cookbook and perhaps the most Mexican gabacho after the famous Chicago chef. "As Señor Bayless likes to point out, lard is not unhealthy — it is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than butter. When rendered at a high temperature, as it is in Mexico, lard has a roast pork flavor that is part of the traditional taste of tamales, refried beans and moles. Don't use the hydrogenated stuff in the tub — buy your lard at the butcher shop. And it sounds better if you call it manteca." One further food insult from me: Using Goya products to cook Mexican cuisine is like making your Cuba Libre with Hornitos.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano

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