This summer, Jennifer Lopez turns When I first came to the U. Back then, I was an 8-year-old Cuban immigrant just starting to learn English. But even through the language barrier, there was one thing I could see clearly—especially during the "heroin chic" model days of the mids: Both my body and my culture weren't appreciated in my new homeland.
Curvy from an early age, I clearly remember wearing shorts to school on a warm day in Miami, Florida, where my family first lived. My thighs were thick and not at all like the still child-like bodies of my fellow fifth graders.
I learned right away that my body was "too much" thanks to the reactions of classmates, or that my thighs were "wide" as my best friend once pointed out when I was sitting down—a very stark contrast to her rail-thin prepubescent body. You have to understand: At the time, seeing a Latina woman proudly flaunting her body and booty on the big screen in a hit film was revolutionary.
Despite the arguments over which celebrity has the best curves today, back in , Lopez had the " original best butt ," as VH1 put it, with the premiere of the biopic about legendary Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla. And that booty quite literally changed lives. Before Jennifer Lopez, there was no pear, apple, or curvy. Lopez herself admits that when she first started her career, curves were not "trendy.
Thankfully, instead of fighting her curves, Lopez embraced them and fought to find designers who would support her natural figure—a cultural shift that can be still felt today. Going from the ultra skinny models of the 90s to seeing a growing appreciation of curves thanks to Lopez's rise to fame was a dramatic change for those of us who related more to the latter than the former. She flaunted her body, so it felt okay to flaunt ours—a movement toward body positivity that started years before the current self-acceptance waves on social media.
It felt liberating to have J. Lo, someone from my same neighborhood and same ethnicity, proudly and confidently owning her shape. In , she was featured on the March cover of Cosmopolitan with the line "Hollywood's hottest body," just a few years after their covers were flooded with thin models like Christy Turlington. And a few months after J. Lo 's Cosmo cover, the magazine featured Sarah Michelle Gellar in a pose that accentuated her hips. Yes, even the non-Latinas were getting into the trend.
After Lopez, booty was king. For those of us growing up pre-J. Lo, the impact could be immediately felt. But today's Latinas have the privilege of growing up with Lopez's influence already visible.
Lo was bringing the booty back, " says Vanessa Jaime, founder of the blog Bourbon Beauty. And J. Lo hasn't just influenced younger women: She also helped those of previous generations to become more comfortable in their bodies. Lo collection shopper. Lo photo on the wall like, 'Hey girl! Jaime agrees. I loved the new curves that pregnancy gave me. I think J. Lo was a big reason for that. For me, Lopez became instrumental in changing my own perception of my body from a young age.
Although I admit that it's still not always easy to love my thick thighs, I did eventually start wearing shorts again after my 5th grade best friend shamed me. As more of the culture embraced curves and big booties like the ones I was born with, it became easier to find clothes that actually fit me.
And while it's still not the easiest task to find jeans that actually fit my big booty and small waist, but it's certainly not as difficult as it was in the pre-J. Lo days. And that awareness, even in the world of retail, is something that I, at least, most certainly attribute to Lopez and the big booty renaissance she brought on.
Lopez's legacy isn't just about her body positivity, her music career, her movie success, her dance moves, her Guinness World Records she has two, in case you're wondering , or even her famous Versace dress.
It's about the positive impact she has had on a generation of Latinas who didn't see many other examples of success for women like them. So whether she has encouraged some of us to pursue our dreams or simply to start loving our curves, Lopez has moved mountains for those of of us who so desperately needed an example.
It takes an incredibly brave woman to not conform her body and everything else to the world around her. To, instead, create her own identity as an artist, as a producer, as a businesswoman, and as a booty-forward role model with so few examples of others' success in front of her. But it's precisely Lopez's resilience and determination to keep going that continues to make her a force to be reckoned with—and a continued inspiration to Latinas everywhere.
As Navarro-Hankins put it: "She appears to be a good mom, a good daughter, loves her sisters, and works really hard. She has failed, has survived brutal criticism, and simply keeps going. For more ways to live your best life plus all things Oprah, sign up for our newsletter! Type keyword s to search. Getty Images. But when I saw Lopez in the movie Selena, something happened. Click here for our countdown to J. Lo proudly and confidently owning her shape. Related Story. It takes an incredibly brave woman to not conform her body to the world around her.
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