I remember when JLo's 'On the 6' came out. It was the summer before I started eighth grade and I was finally starting to be more confident... albeit, still an awkward tween whose tatas were just beginning to grow and didn't want her mom to pick her up at school because that bold ass gold hooptie was just tew much for my 13 year old 'self-image' to handle. Que ridicula.
Enter JLo. She was Puerto Rican (at the time I cannot think of another AfroLatina — I was not a woke 13 year old ya'll. I didn't know about Rosie Perez, Judy Reyes or Gina Torres —who was in Hercules btw and played the character named Nebula ) and was the closest thing to what I looked and sounded like. Please note that I went to a predominantly Russian Junior High School in Queens — so your girl was happy to have found a new woman to look up to.
So here I am, obsessed with Aaliyah and minding my business when 'If You Had My Love' dropped on May 4, 1999 — MY MUTHAFKIN BIRFFFDAY! It was love at first listen. And I've never looked back since.
As I've grown into my adult self my love for JLo has not changed. Although I am realistic about how her music has evolved (the last thing I truly liked from her was 2007's 'Que Hiciste') I still STAN for my lady. I didn't watch her as a dancer on In Living Color, BUT I still got the chance to see her glow up — and a bright one it has been. Every time she hits a new milestone I feel hella proud for her, knowing that she stays bussin' her ass for all the things she's gotten. Which is why when someone comes for her I am here to tell them where to go... para el carajo. My girl is out here doing a residency in Vegas, dropping music (again, let it rock) and shooting a tv show on prime time... while raising her kids (stap it, I am aware she has the money for extra help), showing love to her mama and going on gym dates with EL PAPI Alex Rodriguez. Lawd.
Lets talk about Alex for a second. I admire JLo for not giving up on romance. I remember watching and interview where they asked her about her love life and she stated that she just wasn't one to give up on love. I've seen how much shit she's been given for getting married and having her relationships (Casper is still the one I'm confused about) play out in the public eye, but the truth is that we all (for the most part) date a lot of frogs before finding a price that suits us... I'm happy mine haven't plaid out in the public eye across worldly outlets. So you've guessed it, I am clapping it up for the JLo and ARod love connection.
Women like JLo are important for us AfroLatinas (Hispanic women) to have in our view. She's a reminder that we too can have the things we most desire. And that we shouldn't be afraid to roll up our sleeves and work hard for it. I'm not talking about fame and fortune either, I'm just talking about leaning into your talents — whatever they may be. And don't be afraid to do them together or by season. Too often we limit ourselves because of our own fears and the way the world is set up right now, fear is for the birds.
I hope you have someone out there to look to as your 'spirit animal' or 'fairy god mother' — JLo is definitely on that list for me. A woman that puts you in a good mood, makes you feel strong and capable. I'm grateful I grew up on JLo, I still enjoy listening to that first album and I will continue to stan for my Bori the same way I did 18 years ago.
post image: V magazine