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The opening scene sets the tone for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's latest theatrical production, Beautiful Señoritas. Playwright Dolores Prida's satire following four beauty pageant contestants and an impressionable young girl
Show times and prices vary. Call for details.
Through April 12
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
1301 Guadalupe Street
laments the sexual double standard projected on women. The young girl is every mother's daughter, learning to become a woman, and the play questions the messages society sends her. The cabaret style comedy features hilarious live song and dance numbers with styles ranging from ranchera to rap backed by the East L.A. band OLLIN.

While some older Latino scripts focusing on identity politics seem dated, Beautiful Señoritas sadly still packs a relevant punch even though it was first performed in the late '70s. Like many other Latino plays, this show addresses stereotypes with the purpose of challenging them. What sets Beautiful Señoritas apart is that the stereotypes of Latinas presented, however culturally specific, are recognizable as stereotypes of women worldwide. The image of women as exploitable objects of beauty, sex, and labor is unfortunately a conception that most women can relate to. And while definite strides have been made in the last two decades to elevate Latino culture above crude stereotypes, the march to protect, value, and empower women has moved much slower.

Disagree? Think of high-profile Latino men: Edward James Olmos, Oscar De La Hoya, and Carlos Santana come to mind as respected figures with dignity intact.

In contrast, the most prominent Latinas - Shakira, J-Lo, Salma Hayek - however talented, all seem to gain a large amount of attention for their ass-shaking sex appeal. Seriously, when was the last time you heard anyone discussed the size of Henry Cisneros's booty or Cheech Marin's chest? But the media doesn't hesitate to discuss respected author Sandra Cisneros' weight loss. How far from the Hollywood-created Carmen Miranda caricature have Latinas really come? •

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