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Bella De La Cruz

I was born in Puerto Rico in 1974. My parents and I moved to the United States shortly after my late father joined the U.S. Army. We lived in Tacoma, Washington for a couple of years while my father was stationed there. We later moved to Jersey City, NJ where I was raised. I am the oldest of three children. I attended college in Manhattan but dropped out after two semesters when I became pregnant with my first child. I made the decision to put school on hold and work full-time to care for my son. Although, at that time, my pregnancy may have looked like a setback to many, having my son at a young age and being a single mother contributed greatly to the strong person that I am today. Today, I’m a full-time working mother and wife. My husband and I have four children together and we’ve been married for 16 years. I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree and I’m a natural hair blogger, as well as the Senior Social Blog Editor for Curlpop N Hair. I suffer from hearing loss and I’m passionate about bringing awareness to those who are hard of hearing or deaf. At 43, I never dreamed that I would be doing what I do today. It brings me great joy to interact with so many amazing people inside and outside of the Latin community.

What have been your struggles as a Latina?

I grew up in a Latin community that was very supportive of all the Latinos and non-Latinos. Therefore, I didn’t really experience too many struggles growing up. Being a natural hair blogger today has allowed me to appreciate the differences amongst Latinas. Growing up, I liked my curly hair, but I, along with many others, often associated straight hair with tidiness and beauty, and curly hair with messiness. I would never attend a special event with my curly hair. If I had a wedding to attend or another special event, it was a must to have my hair blown out to look decent (that was the mentality). The messages being put out there were that curly hair or kinky hair was “pelo malo” (bad hair). This could be seen everywhere (media, movies, etc…). Why should we change our natural hair? The perception that curly hair is messy is drastically changing with the help of so many people in the natural hair community. This has made a huge impact in the lives of many Latinas who no longer feel that they need to hide their natural beauty. People are now learning that Latinas come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. The change must begin within our own communities. We are all beautiful in our own way. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to spread this message across the globe.

What does Latina Made mean to you?

Latina Made is a powerful movement that is fighting to help calibrate the meaning of the word Latina. Latina is so much more than just a word. Latina Made is a platform where Latinas have the opportunity to share their stories with others. There are people who can relate to us but they will not hear us if we do not speak. We need to make our voices heard; LMNM is helping us do that.

What made you who you are today?

My parents made me who I am today. Watching the respect between my parents and how they faced their challenges together made me admire their relationship. My mother is a very strong and beautiful woman. I admire her for her strength and her tenacity. She has always been true to herself and has always been proud of her heritage. I have a love for music that was instilled in me by my parents. I love them for always honoring and being proud of where we came from.

What advice would you give to young Latinas in our community?

My advice to young Latinas in my community is to be true to themselves. March to the beat of your own drum. You are unique in your own way. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Appreciate your natural beauty and your heritage. Fight for what you believe in and remain strong in the midst of your challenges. You weren’t made to blend in. You were made to stand out. Embrace all that being a Latina has to offer because it is beautiful.

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