15 Signs You Were a Latina Growing Up in the U.S.

Growing up Latina in the United States wasn't a whole different ballgame - but there was a slight change to the rules. From playtime to punishments, here are some ways your childhood differed from your non-Latino amigos:

1. Teresa Barbie Doll

You Had (And Loved) Your Teresa Barbie Doll

Barbie wasn’t your go-to doll – Teresa was. Whether she was Latina or not was unclear, but you knew one thing – she had brown hair, tan skin and was obviously your girl.  She's also still available for purchase.


2. Playing House & Serving Fajitas

Playing House Meant Serving Your Kids Enchiladas or Fajitas

While your friends were serving up dishes like spaghetti or a full Thanksgiving dinner, in your casa it was all about imitating what your mami made – meaning enchiladas, fajitas, empanadas – you name it, you made it on your fake (imaginary?) stove. 


3. Limon Salt

Limon Salt

Mexicanas know that whether you had the Limoncho shakers or the individual packets, the name of the game was just how much of the lemon-salt seasoning powder you could take before your face contorts or eyes start to water. It was like the Mexican version of the “Warhead” challenge. (I was a champ.)


4. Birthday Parties

Birthday Parties

Birthdays were huge affairs, because all the family was invited – and if you lived in a big city, this meant hightailing it to a nearby park to make room for everyone. And forget pizza – your menu consisted of your family’s favorites: pernil, rice and beans, empanadas and more. (And if you’re Dominican, obviously the day ended with Dominican cake.) 


5. Planning Forever for you Quinceanera

Planning FOREVER for Your Quinceañera

The moment you found out what a Quinceañera was, you were planning everything you wanted out down to the last rhinestone or crystal. The pink dress, the crown, the shoes – everything. And there’d always be at least one argument – from how much you could spend on your dress to whether you really had to include your prima in your court. (“But mami, I don’t even talk to her!”)


6. Or You Chose a Sweet 16

Or You Chose a Sweet 16 (While Your Parents Shook Their Heads)

Your parents wanted you to have your quince. You wanted to have a sweet 16. “Mami, all my friends have sweet 16s!” Like a true teen, you were embarrassed to think of introducing your familia to your friends – little did you know, even if you got a sweet 16, it’d be pretty much exactly like a quince – embarrassing family dancing and all.  Feliz cumpleaños! 


7. Your Playlists Were Always Twice As Long

Your Playlists Were Always Twice As Long

Singing along to Celia Cruz and then switching over to Boys II Men was just a normal (musical) day. La Vida Es Un Carnaval / Motown Philly, Back Again!


8. Speaking of Playlists...

Speaking of Playlists…

Even if you weren’t fluent in Spanish, you would sing along to all of your favorite Spanish tunes with gusto. 


9. When You Were Angry

When You Were Angry

You called your dolls by all of their names, just like your mami. Then they knew you meant business! No, no Anjelica Maria Teresa Salazar Perez!


10. There Were No 'Time-Outs'

There Were No “Time-Outs”

What do you mean stand in the corner? When you were in trouble, you got la chancla! (Better or worse punishment, we’re still not sure. But it was effective.)


11. No Sleepovers

No Sleepovers

“You can go to the party, but you have to call me when it’s over,” was the line of your childhood. Your parents didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t over until the morning… but there was no use arguing. You’ll take the couple of hours over nothing, anyway. 

12. Selena on VHS

Selena on VHS

If you were one of the lucky ones who got to actually participate in sleepovers, you knew it wasn’t a true sleepover until someone popped in Selena – on VHS. (Rewinding to all the good parts, obviously.)

13. Where Are You From?

You Knew There Were Different Ways to Answer The Question “Where Are You From?”

State? Country? Heritage? It was all fair game, and you later learned how to infer from context whether someone meant the correct answer was “Illinois” or "Puerto Rico."

14. Beautifying Started Early

Beautifying” Started Early

Beyonce might wake up looking like that, but you knew looking put together was a priority from day one. Ears pierced young, leg shaving before puberty – it was all a normal routine by the time others in your class even started thinking about keeping their hair brushed.

15. In Living Color

In Living Color

Forget Saturday Night Live or MADTv, your sketch comedy of choice was In Living Color – and you definitely wanted to be a “Fly Girl” when you grew up.