How Carolina Enamorado learned to stop fighting her culture’s beauty obsession
If you know anything about Latina culture, you know that there’s a big emphasis on looking your best, especially for women.
This might not sound like a big deal to you now, but imagine being an awkward little high schooler and having your mom beg you to do your makeup and hair before leaving to go chill with your friends? This is doubly tough if you’re raised in America, where people wear sweatpants in public and aren’t necessarily worried about their looks when they’re just running to pick up Plan B from CVS.
Carolina Enamorado was born in Honduras, but raised in the States, and as a kid she desperately wanted to shed her accent and fit in with the American kids at her school. For her, this meant begging her mom to stop dressing her in super girly outfits and shunning any semblance of makeup.
But as she grew up and began making friends with other people who shared her culture, she slowly started embracing her heritage and the importance placed on presentation that went along with it. Now she’s a makeup artist with nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram who is too glam to give a damn.
We talked to Carolina about how she learned to embrace her mother’s advice and Latina culture in general, plus the backhanded compliments she gets from guys who assume she’s high maintenance.
How do you think moms treat their daughters differently in American vs. Latin culture?
Latin culture is all about respect. I feel there is a high expectation of obedience, moral standards, and the gender socialization of the role as a caretaker within our own family. It is our responsibility as daughters to keep our family top priority and to one day instill that onto our daughters and so on. Traditionally we are taught all domestic traits of how to run a household and (by my mother personally) to always be well put together.
The way I presented myself, dressed, spoke, and interacted with others was a refection of my mother/family and I would never want to disappoint. Even in our education, the pressure to get a degree and become someone was stressed.
The American culture (from experience with some friends ) is way more lenient. The family pressure isn’t as intense, parents tolerated disrespect. And by 18 everyone moves out to start their lives with or without their family. Of course, not all Americans.
You said you used to rebel against your mom when she wanted to dress you up or put makeup on you, what changed?
When I was younger I used to get teased a lot. My mom would pick out my clothes and dress me really cute and girly, but at school that wasn’t the trend so kids would be mean about it because I was different. I would ask her to stop picking clothes for me and I would dress myself or I’d ask her to buy me things other kids were wearing.
I grew up in the suburbs of Jersey and there were very few Latin kids in my school.
Once I got to middle school, I made friends with kids who were Spanish and I really wanted to embrace my culture because we all had that in common. At this point I was really into sports so my style was a mixture of tomboy/Latina – think J.Lo’s “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” music video – braids, hoops, and all.
Life does come full circle because now I am always asking my mom how my outfits look or how my makeup looks.
You said you became more of a tomboy when you tried to be “more American,” what other things did you associate with being “more American?”
To me, becoming more American was being like my friends. I was born in Honduras so when I moved to the states and started school, I was different. I had an accent, my English wasn’t great, and I didn’t look like most of the other students. I related more to the kids in my ESL classes, but I found myself wanting to fit in with everyone else so bad.
Luckily I ended up playing sports my whole life, and making friends that way. I played soccer and basketball so my teammates turned into friends. The most important things to me were making sure my messy bun was messy enough at the top of my head and that I had my practice jerseys and uniforms with me at all times. In high school we all wore boy uniforms – oversized khaki pants, a white button down, and I wore black Timbs and black Air Force Ones ( we couldn’t wear white shoes/sneakers).
My mom would always say, “At least do your hair please! Why do you like to look like a boy?” I did let her have that, she used to take me to get my hair done so I had pretty blonde highlights from sixth grade until my freshman year of college.
With makeup, I would argue with her that I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to try anything at all. However, I managed to get into black eyeliner, mascara and bronzer – I looked a hot mess. But that was my security blanket. With makeup, my eyes weren’t as small and I fit in just a little bit more.
What are some beauty or fashion tips you learned from your mother?
Always wear SPF and wash your face before bed! Don’t be afraid to be sexy and embrace your body.
How did your mom feel about you becoming a makeup artist?
My mom is truly a blessing and without her support I truly wouldn’t be the person I am today. The conversation about me wanting to become a makeup artist was a hard one. If you have a Latin mom you know how unfiltered they can be when they want the best for you. But I managed to man up and show her what I could do rather then tell her what I wanted to do. She’s a tough critic, but she’s also my number one fan, and she supports my passion 100% and I’m grateful for that.
So you’d never see your mom leave the house to get groceries or whatever without looking her best, right? Has she passed that tradition onto you?
The culture is permanently instilled in my DNA for sure, or it’s prob just my mom’s voice in the back of my mind. I don’t always go full glam, but I def keep it cute, so you won’t catch me [looking like] a complete mess. Too many years of hearing her shade me and saying, “you’re going out looking like that?”
Do you find it easier to dating Latin guys because they understand your beauty routine and desire to always look your best?
I don’t know if any guy really understands the glam life. I love what I do and I glam because it empowers me and gives me confidence. I chose it as a career to give other women the same feeling. Having a client light up when they look at themselves in the mirror is the most rewarding feeling I could ever experience. It’s difficult to explain and its difficult for guys to understand the extent of it. But I admire a man who can appreciate the glam or natural look and just let us live!
Have you ever had a guy call you “high maintenance” or something similar? How did you handle it?
That’s actually so funny! On a date I’ve had someone say to me, “I thought you would be some high maintenance stuck up bitch, but you’re actually really cool,” which was kind of a back-handed compliment. He just assumed I was a certain type of way by the way I looked. But I put him in his place quick, girl! And hopefully he thinks twice about how he communicates his thoughts.
What are some current beauty or fashion trends that you think were definitely taken from Latin culture?
The fun thing about the beauty/fashion world is that trends are a little bit of everything – cultures, eras, or what Kim K is doing. It’s perspective. When I look at anyone wearing a bold red lip and clean skin, I instantly think “she’s giving me Selena vibes!” I almost always relate things to my upbringing.
What is some advice you’d give to young Latina girls who might be rebelling against their culture?
Embrace the culture. Don’t ever lose sight of priorities or traditions. You don’t have to be one or the other, you can be the best of both worlds. I managed to finally understand that and it’s okay to not fit in and be unique. Everyday I’m learning to love myself more, and becoming the best version of myself is my main priority.
Photos by Cherry Collab