Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras

Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras: Coming of Age in American Ethnic Communities

Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañeras
    Book Description:

    Looking beyond the satin gowns, opera-length gloves, and sparkling tiaras that signify Filipino debutantes and Mexican quinceañeras, Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez examines the meaning of these coming-of-age rituals for immigrant American families.Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañerasdraws parallels between these communal ceremonies, as they each share a commonality in Spanish heritage and Catholicism and include a highly ritualized party. Rodriguez analyzes these rites and festivities to explain what they reveal about the individuals, families, and communities who organize and participate in them.Drawing on over fifty in-depth interviews with members of these fast-growing American Asian and Latino populations, Rodriguez shows how these communal celebrations of daughters have been adapted by immigrant families to assert their cultural pride and affirm their American belonging.Celebrating Debutantes and Quinceañerasprovides an intimate and compelling portrait of the various ways immigrants and their children are purposefully, strategically, and creatively employing Filipino American debutantes and Mexican American quinceañeras to simultaneously challenge and assimilate into U.S. culture and forge new understandings of what it means to be "Mexican," "Filipino," and "American."

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0629-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Una Cordial Invitación
    (pp. 1-23)

    Perhaps it was because my sister and I grew up in a brotherless household. Perhaps it was because my mother, in marrying my father, grieved in secret for the dreams she surrendered to fulfill her larger ambition of immigrating to America. Or maybe it was simply economically motivated: Mom and Dad presumed that our working-class, Navy family’s money would go a lot further if they did not fill our heads with fantasies of satin gowns, opera-length gloves, and sparkling tiaras. All I know for sure is that, for whatever reason, my parents raised us to run for senior class office...

  5. CHAPTER 2 “No Two Are the Same”: Quinceañera and Debut Rituals and Performances
    (pp. 24-37)

    For our interview, Gabriel Ortega, a Mexican American man in his midthirties, requested that I meet him on a sunny afternoon, at a multistory photography shop not too far from where I lived in Las Querubes. The shop was a more considerable distance from his home but was a landmark, and he was purchasing new, hard-to-find photo equipment. This was around the time most professionals were just starting to consider moving to digital; he explained that he was one of the first in the vicinity to take the leap of going completely digital. Gabriel had been working with quinceañeras for...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Lazos/Ties That Bind: Quinceañera and Debut Social Networks
    (pp. 38-60)

    The Santiago family lives just in the shadow of a place frequented by the wealthy, beautiful, and, often, cosmetically enhanced. As I passed this place on my way to interview Belinda Santiago, the female head of the family, I could not help but wonder what it was like for Belinda’s daughters to grow up in such close proximity to what, for most people, seems utterly unattainable. As it turns out, Belinda herself had some idea. Recalling her youth in El Salvador,¹ she told me:

    Miraba las quinceañeras de otras personas, de las ventanas. Eran muy bonitas. Eran diferentes de hoy....

  7. CHAPTER 4 Pagdadalaga/Blossoming: Becoming the Debutante
    (pp. 61-109)

    The camera lingers on Olivia Hernandez for a second as the emcee, Willis, announces that her parents, Ramiro and Adele, are about to present her to the captive audience sitting inside the expansive ballroom of the Palacio del Rey, the century-old hotel where every South Cove Union of Filipino Americans (SCUFA) debutante has been “introduced to society” since 1978. Olivia’s hair is in a chignon that cascades into a bouquet of brown ringlets, adorned with shimmering combs. The skirt of her white gown billows around her; its poufy cap sleeves form small clouds at her shoulders. Her satin-gloved right wrist...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Traviesos/Troublemakers
    (pp. 110-139)

    There’s a scene in the filmQuinceañerawhen Carlos, brother of recent quinceañera Eileen and cousin of soon-to-be quinceañera Magdalena, is being seduced by the couple who own the backyard cottage he and his uncle rent. Buzzed on beers, Carlos mutters, “I’m so fucked up” as he falls backward onto the couple’s bed. Noticing something underneath Carlos’s tank top, one partner asks, “Is that a tattoo?” Carlos murmurs, “Yeah,” as the other partner lifts the tank top, to reveal the Spanish wordtraviesostained in an arch over Carlos’s navel. “What’s that mean?” someone asks. “Troublemaker,” Carlos replies.

    So far,...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Pagalaala Na/Just a Remembrance: The Work of Making Memories
    (pp. 140-161)

    The morning of her debut, Lauren Aquino’s family home bustled with the barely contained energy of a beehive preparing to gather nectar for its queen. While a dozen teenage girls fluttered between rooms in their pajamas taking turns having their hair styled, their makeup applied, and their costumes fitted one last time by a seamstress stationed in the garage, a group of aunties hovered in the kitchen. Lauren’s mother issued firm but giddy orders to her husband and son. In the meantime, Lauren’s father, Nate, and the crew of photographers and videographers he was scuttling through the house seemed to...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Conclusion: The After-Party
    (pp. 162-178)

    During the course of my research for this book, the many individuals, families, and communities I set out to learn about were generous enough to take me from my perch at theirventanasto welcome me into the warmth of their homes. When I asked only to quietly watch their debut and quince preparations, or to hear their family stories, or to observe their parties from some out-of-sight corner, they flung the doors to their dwellings wide open and invited me into their lives and events. Once inside, what I saw and heard was far more impressive, surprising, and exciting...

  11. Appendix Nandiyan Lang/Just over (T)Here: Ethnographic Reflections on Researching American Immigrant Families
    (pp. 179-184)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 185-192)
  13. References
    (pp. 193-204)
  14. Index
    (pp. 205-213)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 214-214)