Given the growing community of content creators on TikTok, it is important to highlight the Latinx creators who are building platforms that are increasing visibility for the community. Having garnered 20.3 thousand followers and over one million likes on TikTok, Los Angeles native Elizabeth Puente (@themodernmexicana) is a plus-size style and beauty content creator. From try-on hauls and capturing spots in LA to covering her journey in modeling, Elizabeth’s online presence has something for everyone.
In my interview with Puente, she explains that she started on Instagram with a size-inclusive, style page called “Fashion Indulgencia” when she was just 14 years old. To her, expressing herself by creating and posting style content is how she deals with the struggles that come with being a plus-size girl.
With an established voice and message online, she discusses the heavy influence of her Mexican heritage and Los Angeles on her style and fashion. She cites women like Maria Felix, Flor Silvestre, and more specifically, the Mexican sport—charrería—as key inspirations in her style today. The escaramuzas, or female charros—distinguished by their polished makeup, long A-line skirts, sombreros, and long-sleeved shirts—have served as a blueprint for Puente’s fashion. Furthermore, the fashion of Los Angeles in the 1990s—specifically her parents’—such as straight jeans and leather jackets, have also found their way into Puente’s expressive clothing style.
From the San Fernando Valley, Puente’s perspective has been influenced by living in LA. She highlights the diversity in cultures she’s been exposed to throughout the city, such as the Armenian and Middle Eastern communities here. She also makes note of the different styles among cultures and even the similarities she’s noticed among them. With the influx of influencers and affluent people making their move to LA seeking fame or clout, Puente makes it clear LA is much more than privileged people gentrifying the city. When you are “open to the culture” of any city, you get a much better experience and understanding of it. Despite what transplants or other people say about the culture in LA, “the people here are beautiful and they’re so open to getting to know you.”
Coupled with Mexican influences in fashion, Puente’s goal of size-inclusivity is what drives her platform. While there has been progress toward inclusivity, Puente affirms that we are not there yet. To her, “accessibility is everything…without this visibility [of plus-size creators] a lot of us would not have access or a door open to express ourselves in a way that we want to or we’d feel alone.” In our conversation, we discussed that there appear to be a lot of unwritten rules of expression and fashion for plus-size women, like, for example, having to cover up your body to not call attention to yourself. She mentions that being able to see plus-size creators in styles or color palettes that are not seen on plus-size girls as much, gives other plus-size individuals the “okay” to wear those same styles.
Aside from clothing and self-expression, the online and Latinx communities and the fashion industry are all spaces that Puente is a part of, and with them, there are variations in what body shaming and fatphobia look like. Experiencing the biases of these spaces, she asserts being “exhausted” by having to deal with all of this. She is not the first or only plus-size creator or person to have experienced fatphobia first-hand. If you look at any plus-size creator’s comment section, the nature of many comments involves a heavy push for weight loss or the common “promoting obesity” assertion. Not to mention, the hurtful, unnecessary comments many plus-size people hear growing up about their bodies.
Growing up in a Latinx household, she dealt with being plus-size in that space by trying to prove to people that even though she’s “big, [I’m] still healthy.” Now, she’s unlearned everything—the hold of fatphobic remarks and stigmas—and has been setting boundaries within her family to navigate biases in the Latinx space. When it comes to the style space, she asserts again that “access is everything.” With the lack of size inclusivity in stores and brands, she emphasizes that money is a factor in accessing brands that do have an inclusive size range. Additionally, the kind of image of plus-size women that brands choose to represent often only reflects one part of the community. When brands pick plus-size models or content creators to wear their clothes, oftentimes flat stomachs and prominent chests and hips are the ideal look they go for, which does not encompass a lot of plus-size women.
Her motivation to continue her content creation and platform stems from being a young Latina who grew up in a time when a lot of style creators were predominantly white and privileged. This privilege came with money and access to professional equipment, leading to “higher quality” content. As a result, she is inspired to continue her journey as a creator to prove that you do not need equipment to be successful. Furthermore, she hopes for other Latinx creators to see that there is always space for them in content creation.
Through Puente’s continued work, she has had the opportunity to create a community to “express our beauty” and for other Latinas to find a space through her. In talks of the future, she sees herself having a bigger community, continuing her page on Tiktok and even expanding to long-form content on YouTube discussing style and everyday life as a plus-size girl living in LA. Some expansion has already begun, as The Modern Mexicana has started branching out with Glowy Milk Vintage, a plus-size second-hand store. Back in March, Puente had her first pop-up with the store, which was met with many plus-size girls finally having a second-hand store catered to their sizes. She hopes to go above and beyond to promote accessibility and visibility for plus-size girls in the future by either collaborating with a clothing line or starting her own.
Before ending our interview, I asked Puente what advice she has for aspiring Latina content creators. In short, she says “you gotta make the best with what you got and keep going.” She explains that instead of a tripod, you can stack up books or use your phone to film; even look for coupon codes to get discounts on equipment. She advises not to be afraid or embarrassed when recording yourself in public: “People do this all the time…I can do it too.” Puente emphasizes:
“As long as you can get online and start creating, do it! You don’t have to have the best equipment. You don’t have to have the best lighting. If all you can do is film at night because you work 8am-5pm and you can only do one video a day, make the best out of it.”
Make sure to check out @themodernmexicana on TikTok and Instagram!