Ever since watching The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as a child, I’ve always been in love with the character of Carmen. I loved that she was sassy, opinionated, beautiful, and unafraid to flaunt her curves. When America Ferrera, the actress who played Carmen, started appearing in magazines and television interviews, I realized she was an even better role model than Carmen herself.
America has been upfront about the fact that she was turned down from many roles due to her weight, and that being a Latina woman in the acting industry is limiting and difficult. Yet although she’s had a tough past in the acting world, she didn’t change who she was to get a role, and it ultimately paid off. Ferrera became a household name with the show Ugly Betty, and with her rise to stardom America took the opportunity to use that fame for good.
Her healthy body image has shone through time and time again in her interviews, and she has demonstrated that women have so much more to give than just their outward appearance. As she once noted, “Whether you’re skinny or not there’s just way too much attention placed on the way we look. It overshadows more important things in life like loving yourself, loving who you are, and finding yourself on the inside”.
America’s actions speak even louder than her words: this past election season she became involved with VotoLatino, an organization encouraging Latino voters to use their voice in politics, while also traveling around the country discussing issues from immigration, voter id laws, and education. In an article she wrote for the Daily Beast, America explains why Latino voters should even be interested in having a political voice in the first place, saying “We cannot allow these communities to fend for themselves on an uneven playing field. It takes organization and leadership to educate our young and first-time voters on the issues that impact them directly. And it takes dedicated resources to put in their hands the power to shape their own futures.”
America has used her celebrity influence not only to affect domestic policy, but to help other women around the world as well. She teamed up with Nicholas Kristof, author of Half The Sky, to travel to India and report investigations of child prostitution, and has been dedicated to empowering women worldwide ever since. She noted that while in India, she saw how a woman can “be at the bottom and find a way not to just lift herself up, but her family and entire community. That made me really proud to be a woman”. She has pushed for Congress to pass the Violence Against Women Act, and continues to remain an influential member of the Half The Sky movement.
America Ferrera is the perfect example of fame gone right. She has used her celebrity status not to spend her money on lavish parties and outfits, but rather to further empower others by giving her own voice to causes she cares about. Because of her ability to change the lives of so many people, America is such an awesome Woman of the Week. Keep up the great work!
To read her article for the Daily Beast about Voto Latino, click the link below: