Why I Can’t Compete with Mexican Women

My first clue was 9 years ago at university here in Cancun.

In 1st semester, my Mexican classmates would frequently ask me, “Laura, where are your earrings?” “Laura, why didn’t you do your hair today?” “Laura, why do you have huge bags under your eyes?” So for the past 9 years, I have made sure to never leave the house without earrings and concealer. The comments have almost entirely disappeared. (I still don’t “do” my hair, though, because I’m not sure what that means. Now that it’s super-long, nobody says anything, so I think I’m ok.)

On Saturday, Jorge and I went to a wedding. I put on a pretty dress, strapped on some nice sandals and covered my face in exorbitant quantities of makeup. This time, I was determined to get it right.

And yet, once we were at the reception, I looked around me and saw scores of Mexican women with beautifully crafted makeup designs. We were surrounded on all sides by immaculately blended smoky eyes, perfectly glossed lips and expertly placed lashes, all complemented by skin-tight cocktail dresses, push-up bras and sky-high heels. These women are good. My makeup looked bland and colorless by comparison. So what is a girl to do? I rushed to the ladies room, where I had to wait for two tween girls to take some selfies before I achieved mirror access, then I put on as much eyeliner as my eyes could handle. Better. But still not enough. Eyeliner was all I had in my arsenal, so it would have to do for now. I swore that for the next big social event, I would attempt a smoky eye.

Today, it’s happening all over again. The internet at my house is down, so I had to rush to Starbucks this morning to start work at 9am. I barely had time to wash my hair before I left the house, but I did manage to shower and miraculously iron my shirt. So here I am right now, sitting at Starbucks, with a naked face and damp, tangled hair. This Starbucks, however, is a fancy Starbucks. The people who come here are Cancun’s elite… or at least, they pretend to be. The women here have perfectly straightened hair and brightly colored wardrobes that look anything but effortless, or sometimes expensive workout gear paired with a full face of makeup so they can look spectacular during a session at the nearby gym. When the men walk past my table in their tightly-fitting button-up shirts and overly gelled hair, overpowering scents of Lacoste and D&G reach my nostrils for a brief instant. My ears are filled with the sounds of the baristas preparing Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the giggles of 30-something Mexican trophy wives, and the over-enunciations of Mexican businessmen trying to impress their colleagues. It’s a fashion show, and I showed up unprepared.

And surprise, surprise… once again, I’m the only female in the room with no earrings.


27 thoughts on “Why I Can’t Compete with Mexican Women

  1. OMG Sing it sister! I love you! Hilarious! I go to Walmart on Saturday mornings with wet hair and no make-up and wearing flip-flops, and feel like a total loser. I feel even worse if I go to Superama this way. hahahaha

  2. Don’t worry. Real people will see the real you and not who’s behind the make up. On the other hand there is a rumor/saying that says that Mexican women “Se cuelgan hasta el Molcajete” when they go out even if it’s just for a quick run to the store.

  3. Don’t feel bad, I can tell you from experience there are Mexican women who can’t careless about how they show to the mall. I’ve seen women well in her 40s showing up to the mall at 11am wearing flip flops and PJ’s no make up whatsoever. Not all Mexican women are overly obsessed with their looks.

    • This is true. I should clarify that I know MANY Mexican women who are pretty casual, especially here in Cancun. (They all wear earrings everywhere, though haha) But the ones that do dress up are very, very intimidating for me.

  4. In our family I am usually the under-dressed one: I swear my husband came from a matriarchal society of barbie dolls! It’s worse when they try to find a way to compliment you-I have heard “I love your hair” and “Have you lost weight?” so many times in so many various states of chaos that I no longer consider them valid compliments, just polite attempts. I’ve learned to be myself and realize that I am not a Barbie, just as you are not a Mexican trophy wife. It’s what makes us stand out from the crowd, and there are people like us who appreciate that over the standards of mere perfection.

    • Hi Amelia! Now that you mention it, I get a lot of hair compliments, too… not much on clothes or style. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something haha

      Also, it was great meeting you the other day. Let me know when you’re back in the area, and good luck with the move!

  5. I remember feeling similarly when I moved to D.C.
    It feels like all the ladies here are always on point with fashion, hair, makeup, etc.
    I didn’t realize that I would be the only lady where I went in the winter WITHOUT knee high heeled boots. Luckily, I prefer extra sleep in the morning and promptly stopped caring about how I look leaving the house.

    • I love knee-high boots, though! (With heels… not so much. Ain’t nobody got time for that.) And yeah, I’m usually ready for any occasion in 30 minutes or less! Shower included.

  6. Enjoyed your article about earrings and makeup. Very true. Fortunately I am old enough now that I don’t care whether I keep up with them or not. Makeup melts off of your face anyway especially in the summer months.

    • Ugh yes! Makeup melts right off the face in minutes, and hairstyles last even less time. I blame the humidity. In Cancun, we blame the humidity for everything.

  7. Oh Laura I feel your pain! Women in Malta are quite similar, no matter the age they are totally dolled up- layers of makeup, extravagant hair, skin tight clothes and sky high heels. Even the elderly women have hair sprayed solid, lip liner and eyebrows boldly drawn on. I never leave the house without makeup and straight hair, although the humidity destroys both pretty quickly, but I still always feel a scruff!

    I think the best thing you can do is just give up- don’t join the circus, just be your natural self, I think you’re a winner!

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