Monday, April 22, 2013

Latinas y mid-life crisis – bring it on!

Many of my Latina friends are in their early 40s, and I have noticed a change in the conversational topics we discussed in prior decades from the ones we discuss now.

Topics include aging and making big and small life changes. Some talk about internal changes, belief systems that are no longer working, breaking old habits, exercise and nutrition, and managing stress better. Others are talking more seriously about making significant changes on the outside, including facials, Botox treatments and plastic surgery.

We all want to hold on to our youth. As Hispanic women, we are very fortunate to have been born with great genes and many Latinas I know look at least five to ten years younger than their true age. However, they are still women and on the quest to remain youthful.

Is this what they mean when they talk about a “mid-life crisis”? When I was younger, I never cared about such matters. Now, entering my fourth decade, I’m a little more curious and I did some research. According to several sources, one characteristic of a mid-life crisis, which can occur anytime between 40 and 60, is that people often perceive their lives as in drastic decline. Some of the sentiments we can feel during a mid-life crisis are:

Still searching for an undefined dream or goal
A deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished yet
Inferior feelings when compared to more successful colleagues
A desire to achieve youthfulness

I believe this period can be advantageous for Latinas since we usually seem to make the best of any situation, as though we were born with super-resilient genes. It's a time when we can evaluate our lives and make changes to shift our efforts to line up with our life’s goals. Working on the inside is often more difficult to do than working on the outward appearance.

However, some Latinas I know are opting for undergoing surgery during this time. One of them, named Lily, recently underwent a dramatic change and had a “Latina Mami Makeover™."  At 41, Lily decided that she wanted to change a few things on her body that nature had taken away after bearing three children.

She said the surgery gave her more confidence and has helped her tremendously in her business interactions as a dance instructor and a wedding/quinceaƱera planner. She was very lucky, she says, to have found a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Ramon Robles, that speaks fluent Spanish and understands the culture. Many of the other surgeons she researched didn't have the kind of certifications she felt comfortable with. She cautions other women who are thinking about plastic surgery to do the research to make sure the doctor they select is truly certified in plastic surgery. When looking for a plastic surgeon women should first check to see if the doctor is a board-certified surgeon in plastics. One way to do this is to visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Also, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery suggests you consider the following:
  • What are the surgeon's credentials?
  • What is the surgeon's experience?
  • Ask for referrals from friends.
  • Before-and-after photographs can give you some indication of a surgeon's ability, [but] cannot guarantee the result you will achieve.
  • Ask where your surgery will be performed.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with the personal rapport between you and your surgeon.
  • Look for "red-flags.”
I recognize that each Latina’s mid-life experience is different and, while I have never undergone any type of plastic surgery, I realize that in some cases it’s necessary and can make a huge difference in a person’s life.

Sometimes change can be subtle and come from within; other times it comes in the form of a total body makeover.

As a Latina, I support other Latinas who choose to make changes in their lives on the inside or on the outside.

Latina Scout Honor

She is an award-winning community leader and she has served as deputy chief-of-staff for urban relations and community development under former Governor of Arizona and current U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and she is now the chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA, one of the largest and most prestigious non-profits in the country.

But, before all of these accomplishments, she was a young Latina born to migrant farm workers in the small town of Eloy, Arizona, and she was a Girl Scout.

At the age of 10, Anna Maria Chavez joined a local Girl Scout troop and her world has never been the same. She was able to join a sisterhood and travel to camps and learn about things she had never heard about, such as protecting the environment.

 “The Girl Scouts inspired me,” says Chavez, “I discovered I wanted to be an attorney because they help to protect the environment and people’s civil rights.”

At a very young age, Anna's parents instilled in her a strong work ethic and the belief that one should be a good person who gives back to the community. The Girl Scouts built upon that foundation and continued to reinforce those values.

Anna set her goals high and, after graduating high school, she attended Yale University where she received her bachelor’s degree in American History and then went on to graduate from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

"We weren't a wealthy family, but we were always giving back to the community. And we believed that, as long as you give more than you take, things would always work out in the end," she said.

On March 12, the Girl Scouts will celebrate its 101st anniversary of helping so many women, including leaders, such as Condoleeza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State , Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We need to work harder to ensure that we are reaching all girls, including Latinas," she said. In the last decade, the Girl Scouts have increased Latina membership by 55 percent, according to Chavez. She says the Girl Scout organization is very focused on developing culturally relevant outreach methods to work more closely with the Latina community.

There are 3.2 million Girl Scouts in every zip code in the United States, including Arizona, and there are Girl Scouts living in more than 90 countries around the globe. There are also 59 million Girl Scout alumnae and, Chavez says, there are data that clearly show a correlation between being a Girl Scout alumna and higher earning power, greater level of civic engagement and greater satisfaction with life than non-Girl Scouts. 
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