Just How Different Is Nuyorican Beauty From Puerto Rican Beauty?

WatchCut's videos have given us a glimpse into how hair and makeup looks have evolved around the world. From Korea and Japan to Ireland and Kenya, the clips have shown what the past 100 years of beauty have looked like from a multitude of perspectives. The company's latest video gives us a peek into how Puerto Rican and Nuyorican (New York Puerto Rican) trends have changed over the past century — as well as the historical background behind them.

As WatchCut's behind-the-scenes Pinterest board outlines, there's a story behind every swipe of lipstick and curl. The updos from the 1910s were inspired by activists Luisa Capetillo and Isabel Gonzalez, reflecting the decade in which Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens. The pin-tight curls and super-thin eyebrows of the 1930s are a nod to poet Julia de Burgos, while the swept-back coifs were a signature of actress Diosa Costello in the Broadway musical Too Many Girls.

Fast-forward to the 1960s and you might notice references to Rita Moreno (the first Latina to win an Academy Award) from the hit movie musical West Side Story on the New York half, while actress and singer Lucha Villa represented Puerto Rico. As some viewers pointed out, both groups hit the bright eyeshadow and big hair of the '80s hard. The '90s paid tribute to the second Miss Universe win by Puerto Rican Zuleyka Rivera and actor Rosie Perez (New York). To round out the century, Jenny from the Block reps Nuyoricans and Miss Puerto Rico, Brenda Jiménez, is the final 2010 look for PR.

As Christoper Chan, WatchCut's visual anthropologist, told BuzzFeed, just because the videos use the makeup and hair looks from the historical figures as reference, they aren't solely about cataloging beauty trends. “We may have drawn inspiration from entertainers, beauty queens, and models as well, but these women are also navigating the complex tensions of empire,” Chan told BuzzFeed. “Even Jennifer Lopez’s Yankees cap and hoops in the 2010s is a visual statement about identity, resilience, and the politics of place in the South Bronx. We are challenging our audience to look into the eyes of the present and see the soul of the past; that past is always riddled by politics.”
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