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Cuban Women: Body and Soul

Cuban Women: Body and Soul

Cuban women are not just legendary; they are a beautiful reality that surrounds us, day by day. I would define them as a delicious mixture of self-assuredness and sensuality, but they also have a profoundly responsible and self-sacrificing side. At times, they give the impression that there is nothing impossible for them to accomplish, such is their perseverance and their sense of optimism that keeps them going.

A Cuban woman can dress elegantly, modestly or provocatively. No matter what she shows on the outside though, she gives the impression that underneath it all she stores an infinity of secrets and concerns. Her body seems to vibrate as it comes into contact with her surroundings. She has often been compared to a guitar that delights us with its melodies. She always looks amazing whether she is wearing a smock or a guayabera because her gestures and how she carries herself combine exceptionally well with the simplicity of these garments.

Have you noticed how Cuban women always add a bit of spice to fashions originating in other countries? This gives their style a unique look, something we could call “tropicalization.” Those women who have more pronounced curves tend to wear the most striking figure-hugging fashions, inevitably attracting appreciative exclamations from their admirers.

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Whether they are at home or abroad, Cuban women stand out for their somewhat provocative way of walking. It seems to be totally spontaneous and uninhibited, as natural as breathing. Anyone walking behind a Cuban woman on the street could easily compare the experience to watching the rhythm of a rumba or the sinuous flow of honey. And when they give us the gift of a splendid smile, there is nothing that can compare.

Another characteristic of our Cuban women is their spiritual side, including their great gifts of communication. Talking with a Cuban woman may be enlightening. Add to this that over 60 percent of the Cuban workforce lies in women.

When we talk about Cuban women in general, we run the risk of forgetting that one of their most attractive qualities is how different they are from each other. It is not just a matter of the color of their skin but also because of how they act. From blonde to dark-skinned beauties, through all the varieties of what Cubans call “mulattas,” the palette is never-ending. Add to that the range in temperament, from serious to fun-loving.

In Cuba, women have provided a rich source of inspiration for artists in all the media. Composers have penned songs immortalizing women and their special qualities starting with Trova authors who entitled their pieces with names of women, like “Guarina” and “Ferminia” by Sindo Garay, and “Mercedes,” “Aurora,” “Santa Cecilia” and the most popular one of all, “Longina” by Manuel Corona. When the Nueva Trova appeared decades later, the same thing happened and songs such as Pablo Milanes’ “Yolanda” and “Sandra” became part of our national songbook.

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Recent dance music keeps on singing the praises of women. I only need to mention Juan Formell’s “Marilú” to find one such example. And the cinema has also used the image of Cuban women as subject matter. The films Cecilia Valdés, Lucía and Amada immediately come to mind.

In painting there has been one famous representation of Cuban femininity, perhaps the most popular image every produced on the Island:  La Gitana Tropical (The Tropical Gypsy) by Víctor Manuel. It forever symbolizes the face and attitude of Cuban women and it can now be found reproduced on posters, umbrellas and cups everywhere. The theater, dance and literature have all had a hand in spotlighting the unique spirit of Cuban women.

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Recent dance music keeps on singing the praises of women. I only need to mention Juan Formell’s “Marilú” to find one such example. And the cinema has also used the image of Cuban women as subject matter. The films Cecilia Valdés, Lucía and Amada immediately come to mind.

In painting there has been one famous representation of Cuban femininity, perhaps the most popular image every produced on the Island:  La Gitana Tropical (The Tropical Gypsy) by Víctor Manuel. It forever symbolizes the face and attitude of Cuban women and it can now be found reproduced on posters, umbrellas and cups everywhere. The theater, dance and literature have all had a hand in spotlighting the unique spirit of Cuban women.

It has been said that Cuban women these days attain “a certain age” with special élan and pride. These women are protected in many ways and so they have the luxury of being more relaxed, chatting about what can be found in the market, their grandchildren’s graduations and how crazy the house becomes during vacations when everyone gets together. They also have many opportunities and rights to continue their formal education, expand their cultural horizons and partake in regular exercise programs for the benefit of both body and mind. Cuba is indeed very proud of its women.

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