Angélica is in Madrid dealing with the heat that comes with Summer. I chatted with her to hear about what her experience was like as "La Modelo del Mes" for July 2014.
How did you get to Spain?
I did a Master's in Public Health back in Chicago. I wasn't ready to move to the next step, to start working. I had spent most of my twenties in school. I felt depressed. I wasn't ready and my whole self reflected that. It's interesting as I have never been so badly impacted by change in my life. I found out about a teaching position in Spain, I had visited Spain before and I loved it. When I arrived here, I had to hit the ground running. I had to snap out of it. In many ways. I say Spain cured me. I just pushed myself so much. A lot of it came out of a drive to meet my parents' expectations. I felt I hadn't dedicated enough time to myself.
What were your parents' expectations?
My parents really wanted to me to do well in school. I am Mexican-American Latina, I come from a bigger family, and I now have a Master's Degree. Unfortunately, this is something that's atypical. They didn't want me to fall into a statistic. I come from a family of immigrants. My grandparents came from Mexico to look for work in the United States. My parents growing up would go to school and then go to work with their parents. My dad only went to high school because it was illegal for him not to. My dad told me that I didn't need a job, I just needed to focus on my studies. I didn't understand then why my friends could go out more often and had a job at 16.
Did you even feel like rebelling?
I have an older sister who had difficulties with my parents' strict parenting. I can see the effects and how it changed our family unit, so I listened to my parents.
Do you now appreciate your parents strict upbringing?
As I got older, I really see how my education has helped me. I better understand why my parents had put so much effort into making sure I was in school. If I didn't have a degree, I wouldn't have been able to teach in Mexico. I wouldn't be here in Spain. Everything my dad said was true. Education does open doors. For me, it has been my key to success and the world.
Did you run into any struggles on the way?
There was always issues with finances, but even more so, some of the interactions I've had to deal with. One of my bosses told me that the only reason I was in the program was to fill a minority quota. It's crazy, but she flat out told me that. For whatever reason, she felt that she needed to inform me of that. I let it roll of my shoulders. I got into my drive, what I am passionate about, which is public health. These are the things that happen to you as you become a success.
Why did you decide to go into public health?
I really want to give back to my community, the Hispanic community. You connect to people who are like you. I have parents who came from nothing. I grew up in Michigan. You can grow out of your circumstances, you can crawl out. It is a good thing to see that someone could achieve something similar. I want to be the person that maybe they can connect to. I know I connect to them. I am a proponent of giving back and education, because without these two things, I wouldn't be where I am now.
Do you still feel the pressures of your parents?
There is still a big push-pull. My parents want what's best for me, but their ideas were drastically different. My dad still pushes for my independence and education. My mother, who comes from a big family, feel that maybe I am delaying some things such as getting married and having kids. She's been hard on me to get settled and get married. I think she wants me to come home and stop traveling.
How did you family react when you said you were coming to Madrid?
They were unhappy, but they understood. The know they can't keep me from doing what I wants to do forever. They don't do this intentionally, they just love me and they want what's best for me. Sometimes it's just different from what my own goals are. It hard for me to. This is the longest I've been away from them. The family unit is Mexican culture, and many cultures, is very strong. When I was living in Chicago, five hours away was close enough. Now, I can't be there for Sundays parties and family get-togethers.
What are your future plans now?
I think I'm ready to move on to the next step. This country has healed me in a sense, it gave me exactly what I needed. I needed to be disconnected from the rigorous lifestyle that I had. It also helped me with my travel bug. I think now I'm ready to transition to the life that is waiting there for me back at home, or another place. Time to break away from teaching and head to my chosen career path. I am not diving in head first, but I am ready to move forward.
When are you headed back?
This will be the last year here in Madrid. There will be one more teaching assistant job. It's kind of hard to leave this place after three years. There's always one more place to see, one more place to go. It's easy to get greedy. Sometimes it is easier to rip it like a band-aid and go. I haven't been home in two years.
So how did you meet Shimada?
I was working in Academy teaching English and didn't feel comfortable as they were having me teach classes without giving me time to prepare. So I quit and found another position. I felt I needed a change, so I why not my hair. I asked around at my new job and another American girl mentioned his name so I thought I would give him a shot.
How did you get involved in La Modelo del Mes?
He actually asked me the day I went to get my hair done. I'm a brunette and to go blond it can take a while. I was there for about 5 hours and after, he asked me if I wanted to participate. Of course I said yes! Never have I ever done something like this before. I saw what he did with some other girls, to give me an idea of what he was going to do to me.
So what did he end up doing?
He transformed me into a 1920's geisha girl. He put a finger wave in my hair and accentuated my features. The second style, he teased my hair. After getting my hair and makeup done, we went just around the corner to shoot. Madrid is the perfect backdrop for modeling, it's just quintessential Europe. I felt very confident, which was strange, especially when I was out of your comfort zone. People were looking, but it was just so much fun I didn't care.
Did you run into any difficulties?
He asked me if I could raise my lip a little bit. I couldn't do it, I looked like I was sucking a lemon when I tried to, I think I could only get my mouth open. That was about it, the rest was a blast. The pictures he showed me looked so cool. I am really pleased with how they turned out. I wish I could have spent the whole day going around Madrid in my hair and makeup. It took a while, I was there for over eight hours..
What was it like working with Shimada?
It was cool working with someone who owns everything. I think when you get your makeup done sometimes, they are tight with everything. He was very generous with what he would do. If he didn't like something, he would take it off and redo it. He's very detail oriented and he cares about what he does. He told me that I'm a walking advertisement for him and I am happy to share his name with people because I've had such a good experience.
What do you think he brought out in you during the shoot?
I would say he brought out the confidence in me. During the shoot, we actually went into a bar while people were having lunch. People were staring, but I felt so good. I feel sometimes reserved people don't give off such a confidence. Especially me, I am generally so quiet. In the pictures, I was loud and beautiful.
Any else that needs to be said?
I owe a lot to my parents, they weren't able to financially support me as some other parents. I remember that point my parents told me they couldn't help with their homework. They were there for me always, always supporting. This for me in a way is my special tribute to them, to be happy with me and the person who I am. This experience does stop you in your tracks, you get caught up in so many things. This project has given me a chance to reflect on what I do have and to be grateful for that.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the contributing authors and those interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the views of Shimada Kemp: Peluquero y estilista.