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Why Selena Still Slays

Cielo Melero | Posted on October 24, 2019

Selena in concert Fort Worth, TX 1994

Alex Portée

Its been more than 23 years since Selena Quintanilla-Perez was tragically taken from us but she still continues to shine in the Latin community. She was a singer, fashion icon, designer, business woman, dancer, and, most importantly, a role model for Latinas like me.

Selena was a third generation Mexican-American woman born in Texas. Her first language was English and she gradually learned to speak Spanish as her stardom grew internationally. Selena and her siblings found success in Latin music, but what made her different was her vivacious personality and unique use of musical beats. Her band, Selena y Los Dinos, drew from an eclectic mixture of traditional Tejano and cumbia beats. Her clothing style was a fusion of American pop culture and Tejano fashion, drawing on inspiration from Madonna’s bustiers and pairing them with cowboy boots. Before her death in 1995, Selena was working on an English crossover album, which would ultimately be her last. When her album, Dreaming of You, was released it went straight to number one on the American Billboard charts.

Selena’s biographical movie made its debut in 1997, and not only did it highlight the life of a Tejano queen but it also gave us another Latin pop icon, Jennifer Lopez (who played Selena in the movie). Watching the Selena movie was a revelation for me. I wanted to be just like this Queen. I had that movie on repeat and I remember dancing and singing along in my grandmas living room to Selena and trying so hard to mimic her. I idolized her from a young age. It wasn’t until I grew older when I realized how important she really was and how much I could relate to her. Like Selena, I am third generation Mexican-American and I have trouble speaking Spanish. I’ve always been self conscious of this fact. Selena was confident with how she spoke and has taught me to own it, especially when speaking to native Spanish speakers. I’m sure many other Latinx individuals can relate.

Selena was beautiful, inspiring, and above all, proud to be Latina. She embraced her Mexican-American identity; something many Latinx people still struggle with today. She symbolized two cultural worlds meeting in the middle, never being 100 percent both. This made her relatable, especially with young Latinx individuals growing up in the USA. This is why she continues to slay in pop culture. Today, she is remembered for the barriers she broke in Mexico and the USA. She was the first American artist to sing in Spanish and be accepted and adored in Mexico, which is really hard to do. She reigns in both countries as the forever “Tex-Mex Queen” or “Queen of Tejano music.”

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