Meet the City Señoras Building Community Through Slow Living and Self-Care

The City Señoras are encouraging Latinas to build community and pour back to themselves

Courtesy of City Señoras/Founders Alexis Mendias (left) and Jaqueline Padilla (right)

Courtesy of City Señoras/Founders Alexis Mendias (left) and Jaqueline Padilla (right)

The señora way of life has been making its rounds all over the internet, with many Latinas embracing self-care and slow living as a way to step back from the pressures of being a Latina in today’s society. It is often thought that through retirement and old age, rest and a slower pace will come to us. This señora lifestyle throws that out the window and encourages partaking in these self-care practices now. It’s Latinas like City Señoras that are doing the work in helping other Latinas embrace a slower, more mindful lifestyle and building community along the way. City Señoras is a social club based in New York City that within the last year has helped countless Latinas in the area and online open themselves up to self-care and community. The club was founded by Mexican American roommates Alexis Mendias and Jaqueline Padilla who were inspired by the isolation of the pandemic and their experience in a new city to begin their journey of bringing Latinas together.

They live in Brooklyn and came together through señora-favored social platform, Facebook, specifically the marketplace where Mendias was looking for a roommate. After making their individual moves to the big city, the California natives found each other and soon enough would merge their interests in building community and slow living to create the social club. After coming up on her first year living in New York, Padilla found herself going through the motions of finding community in a new environment while also being in a place where she wanted to prioritize self-care.

“I was very new to the city. I was coming up on one year, we’re roommates and we were kind of mixing and mingling with different groups. One day in the kitchen I was sharing with Alexis, I was still kind of having trouble with connecting with people, I just still wanted to find my community,” Padilla tells HipLatina. And that’s when we thought, ‘why don’t we see if others feel the same?’ And Alexis did her magic on social media. And that was kind of the birth of City Señoras.”

Padilla’s experience is not unique. For many Latinas, especially first-generation Latinas, isolation can come from a number of factors. Anything from distance away from family, navigating new-found emotions, and like Padilla, not having that community and connection with those who share your cultural identity can make it difficult to establish roots in a new place. This is one of the many ways that City Señoras is so needed in our community, to bring Latinas who are likely experiencing those same feelings of isolation together. On top of the community aspect of this club, City Señoras is also an outlet for much needed self-care.

Latinas are twice as likely to develop depression as compared to Latino men, white populations or African-American populations. Employed Latinas are more stressed than unemployed ones, the National Alliance on Mental Health reported. This knowledge of Latinas’ experience with stress coupled with factors such as machismo, microaggressions, and the feeling of impostor syndrome in spaces like universities and workplaces show the need for slowing down now rather than later. Founder Mendias can resonate through her experience with burnout: 

“Just being in my later 20s, I really was looking forward to starting this club that was focused on community because I was leaving a space of burnout. I was super burnt to a crisp, if you would. So I just wanted to really slow down and do activities that poured back into me, but I wanted to do it with community. When you’re new to a city that’s really hard to do. It’s not the easiest thing to do. Jackie and I like we’re both kind of looking for that and we were ‘like, let’s just like, do it ourselves,’” Mendias tells HipLatina.

So what exactly is a “City Señora”? Mendias describes her as cool and independent, “probably an eldest daughter” who values self-care, culture and being in community. This description encompasses the many Latinas who have hopped on the City Señora lifestyle through the club’s many events. Since their start just last year, the City Señoras have ventured throughout New York City with a loteria and picnic day, a Central Park walk with cafecito, and a Los Angeles hike through Griffith Park. What started as just a few City Señoras showing up has turned into dozens of Latinas showing up for themselves and each other. Both Mendias and Padilla share how they’ve seen Latinas experience City Señoras:

“What we say is we help people who are in their señora era, get out of their comfort zone and into community. By coming to these events alone, they’re getting out of their comfort zone and at our events are making friends. By the first event that we’ve ever had to where we are now a lot of them are coming back with the friends that they’ve formed now. Some of them have even started their own clubs [which is] really awesome,” Mendias tells us

City Señoras
Courtesy of City Señoras

City Señoras has brought together Latinas to foster community and build friendships, friendships that, as Padilla shares, have lead to heartwarming moments between them:

“At one of our events, three girls met each other and they didn’t know each other whatsoever. They kept in communication. One of them was really interested in culinary school and she wanted to practice for her application, because I believe she had to do some sort of dish. So, she invited them over to her place, and she hosted them for Thanksgiving. She made all the dishes for them, and they wouldn’t have known each other without the group existing. It’s great to see how we’ve created this space. The City Señoras are really taking it upon themselves to create the connections, and continue to foster them after our events as well.”

Mendias emphasizes the club is a jumping off point for community. City Señoras is a tool for Latinas to get to know each other and get out of their comfort zone by attending for themselves and as they get to know each other, show up for their new friends. At the end of every event, they are encouraged to continue fostering the connections they’ve made outside of City Señoras and continue the purpose of the club which is to be in community.

Part of the appeal of City Señoras is how it resonates with Latinas today. The burn out, stress, and pressure of being a Latina in this day and age makes the señora lifestyle something many young Latinas are gravitating toward. Padilla adds: 

“It [the COVID-19 pandemic] really forced us to kind of reevaluate our situation and kind of slow down from this ‘go go go’ lifestyle. I think, at least from the way my parents kind of raised us, each generation should advance or do better than the previous one. So that way, taking care of yourself is a huge way in which you can do that. That might be a reason why these events resonate, and this group resonates with so many first-gen. They see how hard working their parents are and they’re also hard working, but they also realize that you have to, pour a little bit of self care, take care of yourself a little bit in order to be able to continue to produce what you want to produce.”

City Señoras
Courtesy of City Señoras

Through their online presence, the City Señoras give you a taste of what it’s like to be at these events and to see yourself, people who look like you and your culture represented—something they experienced seeing the señora era trend making waves online and seeing other Latinas in their era just like they were. Another aspect of seeing yourself involves resonating with the first-generation experience that many Latinas, as Padilla relates, go through which pulls them toward this self-care forward lifestyle.

Mendias also emphasizes the pressure placed on first-generation Latinas often being their “parents’ retirement plan”. With that weight on their shoulders, comes being the first to go to college, navigating new experiences on their own especially in the work place and a multitude of pressures that require extra care. Not in 20 years, not in retirement but now as well. Mendias points out that smaller practices to give back a little to yourself can go a long way: “If doing a walk post work, or having just your cafecito in the morning is how you can kind of give back, that’s amazing. It’s these little actions that we can take, in addition to the other stressors, that being a first gen, second gen has brought that we can just do for ourselves.”

Much of the self-care practices embedded into the City Señora events stem from previous generations, adding a nostalgic element to the slow living style that the club uplifts. From zumba classes to morning walks to even the music genres that have become emblematic of our señora era are rooted in our cultura and the nostalgia it brings us to be reminded of our family and heritage through our self-care.

Mendias points out that the nostalgia of the señora era enhances self-care by encouraging us to be our most authentic selves and tapping into the environment and upbringing that makes us who we are, especially as first-generation Latinas.

“You are the environment and the places that you come from, and if that was how you saw self care expressed, that’s also how we’re going to do it. We’re adding our own spin on it. I think that’s another example of what it means to be a first gen. You’re not from here, but you’re not from there, you’re in this middle space. The middle space is what we’re making it and this is just one of those ways that it’s going to manifest,” she shares.

Mendias and Padilla’s biggest hope for City Señoras is to expand beyond New York. Their audience online and in-real-life community has led many to reach out from other cities. They hope to soon have City Señoras across the country from Chicago to Dallas to Los Angeles and encourage Latinas throughout the U.S. to find community. The work they do with City Señoras has strongly resonated and impacted those who’ve joined la comunidad with thousands of followers on Instagram and TikTok, making the need for this level of connection evident.

“Living in New York City, I see so many Latinos and Latinas, walking the streets. I hadn’t ever come across a group that really put us all together in a space that wasn’t necessarily networking. We were looking for something that was our third space but something that was outside of work and just helping us kind of feel something from home [our roots]. So to see all the praise and support we’ve had from other girls in the community has been really, really humbling,” Padilla says.

For Latinas inspired by the City Señoras or currently on their own self-care journey, Mendias and Padilla say the bottom line is: Be confident. “Do it, it feels selfish, but do it. It’s gonna help you be a better you  and by doing it, you’ll also find other people. You’ll find your people doing it.”

This message rings true for many Latinas, especially first-generation Latinas who often leave their needs at the bottom of the priority list. As the City Señoras remind us, the time is now to pour back into ourselves and show ourselves some love through self-care.

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City Señoras first gen latina Self Care slow living
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