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Latino Girl's Coming Out Rite

February 14, 1987

The quinceanera, a slang word for "presentacion en Sociedad" (society presentation), is only for families of high society. Fine, educated and rich girls are introduced at their honorable parents' exclusive clubs to participate as a refinement of their own lineage, at dances, programs, etc. The girls have the opportunity to find friends among the most honest, educated and rich male club's members or a special gentleman, which can ensure an educated name to the family ascendancy, in marriage, when age permits.

"Presentacion en Sociedad" (quinceanera) is not popular among poor or uneducated families. The average educated Mexican families are more preoccupied with their children's education than spending big money on a one-day party. They are proud enough to decline any offers of help. They may take out a loan to send their children to reputable universities but not to make a fantasy like quinceanera.

But as the saying goes, "The worst sin is ignorance." We can be appalled by the mentality of some people. Some times you can admire them; working as slaves and asking family members and friends to give hard-earned money to spend in that foolish way. I wonder if anybody says "no" to them. I know working mothers, who after 8 hours of labor, come home to start another 8 hours making the 15 quinceanera dresses to fulfill her own fantasy, like a Las Vegas show splendor type of thing.

Parents are so proud and happy with the preparation of the quinceanera that they don't even send the children to school so the 15-year-old girl can be free for the rehearsal and the fitting of the dress.

Giving a quinceanera party is the same as giving a "prom" to students with a D-minus. I remember a workless mother begging for money so she can get a $200 dress for her daughter's prom. For a moment she got insane yelling, "My daughter needs hosiery and shoes the same color of the dress, please help me," and started to cry. She got the money, the girl went to the prom and after one month the same mother was crying again. Do you guess what happened?

BERTHA G. de HERRARA

Los Angeles

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