They are feministas and fashionistas, multicultural mamis and political pundits, cake-decorators and coupon-clippers.
They are the rising ranks of Latina bloggers. And their voices are changing the digital landscape, offering an inside view of the power and the diversity of the Latina community. “We have such vastly different experiences. That’s not something everyone understands,” says Angelica Perez-Litwin, a clinical psychologist who blogs for the Huffington Post and created New Latina, a bicultural lifestyle website.
“We are educating mainstream society, but also educating each other,” says Perez-Litwin, who notes that her goal in launching New Latina is “to change and revamp image of Latina women, to change the landscape of who we are.”
The blog directory, Blogs by Latinas, began with 156 registered blogs in 2009 and now lists close to 1,800. They are located in 41 states and 32 countries, and include blogs with names like Brown-Eyed Amazon, Growing Up Blackxican and I Dream of Cake.
“My goal from day one was that I wanted other bloggers to know that there were women like them out there, and I want brands to know that there are Latina bloggers out there,” says Monique Frausto, the founder of Blogs by Latinas. “We finally have this platform where no one can tell us anything. No one can tell us to be quiet, to not write. Our voice is finally being heard.”
In many ways, the Latina blogging community is replicating the tightly-knit nature of Latina families, forming an online support system for novice and seasoned blogueras alike.
Many of the blogueras communicate through private forums, where they share advice, share tech tips, and serve as sounding boards for each other, according to Ana Flores, a former television producer and creator of LatinaBloggers Connect.
“If one of us grows, we all grow. That doesn’t mean there’s no competition. If there’s no competition, we don’t grow. But it’s healthy competition,” says Flores. “This is definitely the start of something. We’re not going to fade anytime soon.”
Meet some Latina blogueras:
Ana Flores • Spanglishbaby
The longtime television producer turned to blogging after she moved to Los Angeles and quit her job to spend more time with her then-infant daughter. At the time, Flores was scouring the web for help with parenting questions, and growing frustrated by the lack of resources for Latina moms.
Instead of dwelling in exasperation, she created Spanglishbaby, a blog directed at parents raising bilingual and bicultural children.
That was in 2009—just as the Latina blogger explosion was about to kick into high gear.
“I wanted a way to pass down my culture and heritage. I was writing from the heart,” says Flores, who spent six months teaching herself the technical aspects of blogging. “Only a handful of us were talking to Latina moms and acculturated moms back then. Then Twitter exploded and created a way for us to connect more directly.”
For Flores, blogging has proven to be a flexible way to earn an income, although she admits that she is working “more than I’ve ever worked in my life. But I was able to take my laptop to El Salvador and work there for a month. I can do that now.”
Monique Frausto • ClickLatina, Curves and Chaos
Frausto graduated from college in 2007 with a degree in communications—just around the time recession hit and jobs in traditional media were drying up.
Inspired by a blogger friend, she decided to try her hand at online publishing and created two blogs: one looking at children’s fashions and the other dedicated to wedding advice. Both fizzled.
But as Frausto began investigating the blogosphere for help, she came across something intriguing. There were groups for African American bloggers, but none for Latinas. That’s when Blogs by Latinas was born.
As Frausto learned more how to tweak templates, she also discovered a basic rule for blogging. “I realized I had to write from my heart,” says Frausto. “I had to write about something I am passionate about.”
Now, in addition to her blog directory, Frausto also writes for two blogs of her own. Curves and Chaos is a “blog for curvy women,” while ClickLatina is a lifestyle and culture blog for Latinas.
“It’s my life. I’m very proud of my culture and heritage, but I don’t speak fluent Spanish. In the beginning, I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I didn’t speak Spanish,” says Frausto. “But today I’m a proud Latina woman. I know that what I speak doesn’t make me Latina.”
Maria Vargas • La Chica Gamer
As a girl who blogs about video games, Maria Vargas is a rarity among bloggers. And as a bloguera whose site is in Spanish, the 20-year-old college student may be unique in the blogosphere. Although her timing is good, as a recent survey showed that women are the largest growing demographic in the gaming world.
La Chica Gamer was born just ten months ago, after Vargas’ sister (who has a popular coupon blog) suggested that she turn her passion for video games into a blog.
Vargas’ blog quickly started drawing attention from other girl gamers in Puerto Rico, where she lives. They even formed a girl gamers’ network and meet every Saturday for a girls only game night.
Before Vargas launched her blog, gaming tournaments in Puerto Rico drew few, if any, girls. Last month, 25 girls showed up for a tournament.
“Now, they’re not afraid to play and say I’m a girl gamer,” says Vargas, who posts video game reviews, news and interviews.
Vargas, who was invited to speak on a panel at the most recent BlogHer convention, has also started drawing attention from video game makers, eager to publicize product news on her site. In early September, she also traveled to Atlanta to cover Dragon-con, a sci-fi convention.
An aspiring doctor now in her senior year of college, Vargas carries an iPad with her, and posts entries whenever she has a free moment. On weekends, she is playing video games and writing reviews.
“I like love it, love it, love it,” says Vargas with a burst of youthful exuberance.
Veronica I. Arreola • Viva La Feminista
Veronica I. Arreola describes her blog, Viva La Feminista, as the “intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinadad”—a reflection of her own concerns and experience.
“It was about getting my voice out there,” says Arreola, who has had a web presence since the late 1990’s. “I wanted a space of my own to get my opinions out there.”
A longtime feminist activist, Arreola first began to notice the convergence between her feminist ideals and motherhood after becoming a mother. “It made me more radical in some ways, but it also made me realize how the conversation was leaving out mothering issues,” says Arreola.
Her blog now routinely addresses some of the issues. Recently, for instance, Arreola wrote about the need for media literacy education for girls.
In another feature, last year Arreola asked Latinas who identify as feminists to pen a series of guest blogs on the subject. The result was a conversation about how feminism fits in with being a Latina. This summer, guest bloggers are discussing the notion of being a public intellectual.
“Blogging for me has been a tool to get my passion out into the world and connect with people,” said Arreola, the assistant director of a women’s research center in Chicago. “I have a lot of opinions in my head and I want to get them out there.”