When Selena was at the height of her career in the early '90s, I was a preteen. At the time, I didn't fully grasp how much her outlook on body image would influence me as an adult. I have always had a curvy body, my big butt always a point of conversation. While flattering at times, the talk about my butt also made me self-conscious about my body type.
Throughout her career, Selena's outfits were a quintessential part of her image - from her bustiers and high-waisted jeans to the now-iconic purple jumpsuit she wore during her last concert at the Houston Astrodome - and her outfits always embraced her curvaceous body. In a 1994 interview with Mexican journalist Gloria Calzada, Selena talked about having a sweet tooth and how when she gained weight, it was always on her hips. Selena's interviews were refreshing to watch because of the sincerity in her responses. She was relatable to many of us who, like Selena, complain about our hips and big butts. Even 22 years after her death, her interviews remain poignant because the topic of body image is as relevant today as it was when she was alive.
At the height of her career, Selena embodied the complete opposite of '90s beauty standards. While many women chased after the "Rachel haircut," Selena proudly wore her long, dark, wavy hair, which playfully swayed from side to side whenever she danced. While Kate Moss was the unofficial spokesmodel of the "waif" look and supermodels like Cindy Crawford had the "glamazon" look, Selena was neither a waif nor a glamazon. Her body defied the beauty standards of the time. Her small waist, thick thighs, and big butt echoed the body type of many Latinas, who did not see themselves represented in the media. Latinas everywhere saw themselves in Selena as an accurate representation of a real body. As a businesswoman, she understood the need for clothes that catered to women who were not built like Kate or Cindy. Her boutique in Corpus Christi filled this void, allowing women of all sizes to shop for clothes that fit their bodies. Sadly, her store was shut down shortly after her untimely death.
When Jennifer Lopez was cast to play Selena in the 1997 biopic of the same name, the movie faced backlash over having a then-unknown Puerto Rican actress play Selena. Many fans objected the fact that a Mexican-American actress wasn't chosen to play the role. Jennifer Lopez, who at the time was known only as one of the curvy fly girls from In Living Color, paid no attention to the criticism. Two decades later, it's clear that the casting was spot on. Jennifer Lopez nailed her portrayal of the queen of Tejano music, her resemblance to Selena is uncanny, and today Lopez is as famous for her curves as Selena was. The movie catapulted J Lo into stardom and solidified Selena's legacy in the Anglo world.
If Selena were alive today, she would undoubtedly be one of the strongest advocates of the body-positive movement. She would praise women who celebrate their curves, and her boutique would probably be one of her most successful ventures. Selena understood what it was like to have a curvy body and the challenges that come with dressing for your body type. Even in death, Selena continues to inspire so many of us to love our bodies and ourselves, even if we have a sweet tooth.