“Peluda” is a collection of poetry by Melissa Lozada-Oliva that discusses the author’s journey regarding her identity through an overarching theme of hair. Oliva presents her difficult position as a hairy Latina Americana via details stemming from conversations with friends and her culture. In the poet’s introductory poem, “Origin Regimen” we see the common position of Latino’s in America very clearly. Olivia writes:
“before there were legs, bikini lines, eyebrows, upper lips,underarms, forearms, labias, assholes, chins,or the waxing table there were houses & two immigrants who cleaned them (ll 1-4).”
The latter portion, “two immigrants who cleaned them” highlights the reality that many Latinos within the United States hold service or labor jobs. In the same breath Olivia is introducing the stigma around female hair. By naming all these places in which women get waxed, the poet is directing us to analyze why we feel it is so necessary to tame our hair. In her poem, “My Hair Stays on Your Pillow Like a Question Mark” Olivia again presents the issues through intersectionality via the speaker’s conversation with her white friends. She tells us:
“skinny white girl with a sugar skull tattoo says: no offense melissa?? but I know when you’ve been around?? because your hair gets all over everything?? & no offense but it kind of grosses me out?? if you come into my apartment can you just please be aware of that?? (ll 1-5).”
This introductory stanza shows how much of a nuisance the speaker appears to be to her friend. Olivia is putting us in this conversation in hopes that the reader will consider how often Latinos must adapt in order to be welcomed. One of the most rousing aspects of this piece is it’s blatant discussion about hair. As a Latina I too have been made aware of how the hair on my arms is a bit thicker than most, and how often my curls end up in places I don’t intend them to. It was stimulating to be able to read something that I could so closely relate to. If you would like to get a taste of Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s “Peluda” before purchasing it, please click here to watch her perform some of her work.
— Andrea Rodriguez, Blogger.
Andrea Rodriguez’s Bio
Andrea Rodriguez is a senior at Lewis University. Prior to attending Lewis, she completed her associates at the College of DuPage. Rodriguez is studying English Literature in order to pursue a career as an academic librarian. As for her interests, Andrea loves spending time with her family, being in nature, taking care of her plants, writing, cooking, and traveling when she can. Andrea also enjoys exploring unique writing styles. Some of her favorite pieces include The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson and “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid. In addition to being a fiction/poetry editor for Jet Fuel Review, Rodriguez is the editor-in-chief of Lewis Voices, and the administrative director for Sigma Tau Delta, of which she is also a member.