Picture this: it’s the ‘90s. You tune into the most popular novelas of the day, where a handsome rich man sweeps a humble, gold-hearted woman off her feet. You rush out to streak the front of your hair blonde, or get a crop top while also singing pop songs like “Piel Morena,” or “Amor a La Mexicana.” What do all of these things have in common? Thalía, of course.
I remember being a Colombian-American teenager in the ‘90s and consistently going to Mexican icon Thalía for pop culture goodness. Was it problematic that our definitive example of Latinidad is so fair-skinned? Yes!
But back then I watched the 1994 novela MariMar with my best friend and we couldn’t get enough. We talked about how cute Eduardo Capetillo was, no doubt. But mostly we loved Thalía and her character, a poor, humble girl from the beach who finds herself married to a rich man. Of course, Latinx drama ensues. This was the formula for Thalía’s novelas during the decade. Maria Mercedes premiered in 1992, followed by MariMar, and 1995’s Maria la del Barrio. And all of them, a poor girl falls in love with a rich guy and is humiliated by his family, until she glows up and wins in the end. It was a repetitive trope, but we were definitely here for it.
When we weren’t watching Thalía on TV, we were copying her rad style. She was the ‘90s on steroids: a huge blonde streak in the front of her hair, 3-D floral tops, bold belts highlighting that non-existent waist, accessories galore, and all the other loud, bright, and in-your-face trends done in a way that only Thalía could do. She carried it all off, and we wanted to look just like her. Personally, I copied her sleek side-part updo for my friend’s quince because I, too, wanted in on the cool, on-trend Thalía look.
And, of course, you couldn’t talk about Thalía without talking about her music. During the 90s, she released five albums: 1990’s Thalía, ’91’s Mundo de Cristal, ‘92’s Love (1992), ‘95’s En éxtasis (which I owned on cassette tape), and ‘99’s Amor a la Mexicana. Who wasn’t singing Amor a la Mexicana at the top of their lungs, even if they weren’t Mexican?! Who wasn’t dancing to Piel Morena or claiming that they were Maria la del Barrio “a mucha honra?” I don’t know that Latina, and I’m sure you don’t know them either.
This has been a throwback homage to a Mexicana who showed us how to be loud, proud, and very Latina. It really wouldn’t have been the ‘90s without all the over-the-top awesomeness that Thalía brought to television, music, and style. And I would have a lot less cool memories to share with you all. Muchisimas gracias, Thalía!