Confronting my unacknowledged biases led me to reclaim the working-class aesthetics that Latine femmes use to find and display our power in public spaces. If I considered myself a feminist, it would be critical to understand the chonga, or Bratz, Miami aesthetic as an expression of resistance to U.S. assimilation
and respectability politics. As I explore in my book "Aesthetics of Excess
," these around-the-way aesthetics signal femme autonomy
and, because of this, they are disciplined. Our styles are often read in the U.S. as tacky, over the top, and deviant, even as they are simultaneously spectacularized, desired, and appropriated
. Even our countries of origin have gendered hierarchies of beauty that stem from colonialism’s devaluation of African and Indigenous aesthetics.