By: EM Rodriguez

Men’s Balls vs. Machismo

Latinos in general, from a young age, are generally forced to believe that real men need to be super-masculine, dominant, never to cry or show emotion and always without the slightest hint of femininity. Latinos learn early how to navigate not only the racism they encounter, but also how to cope with the effort to silence them by family, neighborhood and society at-large if they lack any traits of masculinity.

Machismo is defined as a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are traits of masculinity. In Hispanic cultures, there is really only one right way to be a man. You have to be a hard worker, knowledgeable in “manly” things…from soccer and football to cars, tools and a proud display of body tattoos.

Spring 2022 New York Fashion Week served as the setting for the kick-start that broke all the rules for Latino fashionistas. The Willy Chavarria fashion designs challenged gender stereotypes and created a sense of fashion that broke the rules of gender conformity. It was all about breaking the divide between masculine and feminine, between what a man and a woman “should” look like.

Chavarria’s fashion style plays with gender expectations and androgyny, challenging gender stereotypes and creating a sense of fashion that breaks away from the rules of gender conformity. It’s about breaking the divide between masculine and feminine, between what a man or a woman “should” look like.

Pearl Necklace Attack on Machismo

The rise of the pearls as a male accessory over the past year and a half has been remarkable in the Latino community, a trend with real sticking power. The pearl necklace, a traditional feminine accessory, started to make headway into the stylistic choices of Latino men. It is not only in the wardrobes of Latino queer men, but inserting itself in the general population of Latinos that value fashion and willing to challenge the notion of what it means to dress “like a man”.

Latinos across the San Fernando Valley were clear that it may take some time to see pearl necklaces on homeboys shopping at Vallarta Market, but no question that those same boys will display their new sense of freedom at every club, party or any other social venue. Others showed no hesitancy in adding white pearl necklaces to adorn their necks and use them to further honor their Virgen de Guadalupe medallion which they wear every day.

Some men indicated that they would not hesitate wearing black or dark color pearls if the necklace made them feel modern and edgy. With fashion moving forward to genderless and fluid styles in California, designers like Willie Chavarria, Kim Jones at Dior Men and Alessandro Michele at Gucci claim that pearls for men will have a renaissance among contemporary Latinos across the United States, Latin America and around the world. Music and hip hop performers like Harry Styles, Shawn Mendez, Pharrell Williams, A$AP Rocky and Jaden Smith are already switching out the gold chains for pearl necklaces.