I’ve learned to accept that I choose to spend more time in Jackson Heights than I do in Astoria, which is where I live. Every year, the people of Jackson Heights hold a big parade down 37th avenue. They do this to embrace the wide variety of Hispanic traditions that are practiced from different countries in Central and South America. I attended school in the area from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The majority of my friends live in the neighborhood and identify themselves as Colombian. I heavily admired their culture ever since I was a little girl. My old school has several different shops attached to the side of the building, and one of them always managed to catch my eye.
The name of the boutique is Cali Caliente and it has been there for as long as I can remember. This store carries various types of costumes, soccer jersey’s, and Colombian pride clothing. The mannequin’s facing the window and the clothing that they are wearing have helped me come to terms with my body. I began to notice that Colombian culture embraces curves on a woman more than society as a whole. The boutique advertises fitted clothing that aims to accentuate the natural shape of a woman. Passing by this store every day for the last thirteen years has been a blessing in disguise. In my eyes, the store represents confidence, courage, and femininity. As I entered to take notes for this project I immediately was amazed. As I entered the shop, I noticed the common red, blue, and yellow theme used to represent Colombia. The store aims to sell female clothing that accentuates the realistic body image of most girls. I noticed that majority of the woman who entered had a similar physique to the mannequins. Every customer that walked in when I was there spoke to the worker’s in Spanish and they seemed to put a lot of effort into fashion; I am under the assumption that they were Colombian due to all the Colombian flag clothing I saw being purchased.
A common shoe many customers seemed to be wearing were wedges. Many women who entered the store were wearing pants that accentuated their butt’s by the precise cut of the jeans and the various designs embroidered on the back. Spanish music was playing loudly and every customer and worker in the store had a smile on their face. They sold several fitted and evening dresses at the boutique. They were very hard to miss since they consisted of bright colors and a lot of sequins.
They also had a section devoted to a specific yellow Colombian soccer jersey. They had a wide variety of sizes for the jersey because they are very popular in the neighborhood. They also have a wide variety of Halloween costumes for adult women. They were not inexpensive and each item had a lot of detail. A large amount of the kids of the customers were drawn to the costumes and many had the urge to touch them. The store consisted of a lot of tight fitted clothing and bright colors. I love how the store and everything sold inside is able to draw attention. When walking past this store every day, I learned that embracing your culture is very important and woman of all colors and sizes should be able to wear whatever they want and feel confident in it.
– Julia Francione