[83/100 Strangers]: Linda, Dia de Los Muertos 2015


[83/100 Strangers]: Linda, Dia de Los Muertos 2015

At the entrance to the Westside Community Center complex, a bottle neck formed of people who were passing through the gate in both directions. We were entering the park area for the Dia de los Muertos celebration following the Marigold parade.

Like many of the women at the event, Linda, my 83/100 strangers, wore a headpiece made with fabric flowers.  Out of the frame, dangling around her neck is a large cross and she is also wearing a black lace corset outside her black tank top. On this particular occasion she was a glammed-up calavera with makeup depicting beauty, even in death. Linda is what I describe as a ‘rock-a-chola.’ This flourish of personal self-expression evolved out of the Chicana (Mexican American) Feminist movement. For women who grow up in a modest Catholic tradition, this style is equivalent to a subversive punk aesthetic.  Linda mashes up 1940s pin-up fashion that rejects bodily shame to advance a healthy respect for female beauty.

Linda explained that she and her friend Raquel, my No. 82, stand for equal respect for everyone, with special concern for young girls who should be able to grow up confident and self-empowered.

Her black sleeveless tank top had cursive letters: “P-M-M,” which stands for Pink Mink Mafia; a clothing brand that unapologetically embraces the ferocity of woman. Linda wears the shirt as a sign of solidarity with all women who wish to express their individuality, own their own bodies and sexuality, and not be judged for it. She is a latina who is tattooed, beautiful and intelligent, and who wishes to be accepted for her substance, no matter her appearance.

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