Self-love is a common term these days but putting it into action is not as easy as it seems, especially among young women of color. That’s where the Love Thyself Festival hopes to help. The first annual festival takes place in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 9, a result of the work of sisters Adriana Serrato, 28, and Gabriela Serrato Lone, 35, of Latinx clothing company XipiTeca .
Founded in 2018 by the sisters, XipiTeca was born out of the lack of cultural representation in the clothing industry. “XipiTeca celebrates the magic in all women of color and all body types by personalizing everything we make. Invoking the spirit of femininity, amor y cultura,” Serrrato told HipLatina. ”Our mission is to create a brand that highlights the divine beauty of being a woman of color. We want to make a difference, we really want to build sisterhood by supporting each other.”
This intention carries over to the Love Thyself festival, a celebration of women of color and sisterhood taking place in La Plaza De La Raza in Northeast LA.
Serrato’s intention is for the day-long festival to not just celebrate self-love, but provide attendees with the tools necessary to continue the practice at home. “Love Thyself is a festival to increase the awareness of self-love for women color. We wanted to create a self-love centered festival that is specifically curated to create community by providing a safe space for dialogue, learning, and networking. To unite, share and to inspire each other,” she said.
The event will feature workshops including crystal healing with The Hood Witch, self-love open mic with Hood Profet, a guide to the goddess with Locatora Radio, and radical self-love with Fat Chicana Feminist founder and self-proclaimed fat activist Dora Xochitl Lopez Mata. Mata, who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. in 1999, created Fat Chicana Feminist as a tool against fatphobia and oppression. While in graduate school she became aware of the lack of openness about mental health among low income and first generation students and so she created a space for that through FCF.
“Because I am an immigrant, the way I was raised really did not allow me to practice much self-love as a young person. In reflecting on my youth, I became aware that I used to feel guilty for engaging in self-care. The guilt was raised through the lessons of work. I was taught that working, constantly and being productive, was the way one would take care of yourself,” Mata told HipLatina. “Sociologically, the reality is that these habits are rooted in capitalism. These themes permeating our society does not help me, or other underrepresented students or communities in taking care of our mental, emotional, spiritual, and or physical health.”
She calls the event a “privilege for many of us” and commends XipiTeca for making it accessible and relevant to people of color and for emphasizing the importance of building community.
“I am thrilled to be able to share my testimonio as a fat chicana feminist. It just furthers my journey of learning and engaging in radical self-love and being a brown mujer within this society that always invalidates my experiences. It would be radical for me to resist my sharing of my story and creating community. I am a firm believer that, to create a radical space, we need to come together and build community,” Mata says.
In marginalized communities where people are generally overworked and underpaid, self-care and self-love can be overlooked and replaced with unhealthy habits. According to the National Institute of Health, the socioeconomic inequalities Latinas face puts them potentially at a higher risk for certain health conditions and limits their access to quality health care. Search #selflove on Instagram and you’ll find more than 28 million posts but searches like #latinxselflove #latinaselflove #latinaselfcare result in less than 50 posts each. Though there are plenty of self-love warriors who are Latina, there is still a lack in mainstream sources targeting Latinas and self-care.
“Young women of color are disproportionately underrepresented in media and social platforms. This lack of visibility makes it difficult for us to identify with mainstream media. This festival creates an experience for women to celebrate their self- love and learn different ways to create a culture of self-love,” Serrato said.
She practices what she preaches exercising self-care with an altar that includes flowers, crystals, sage, and a photo of her and her abuela among other knick-knacks. It’s a collective of objects that make her happy and reminds her of her self-worth.
In addition to developing the festival, XipiTeca will also be one of the more than 20 vendors that day including Cholas X Chulas, Shop Mi Vida, and Dora’s Tiendita. Serrato and Lone launched XipiTeca with their signature item — the saint hoodie — made to order and 100 percent hand sewn in Los Angeles by a seamstress, as are all of their clothing items. While Serrato focuses on the designs, Lone manages the team and ensures that they’re working with the community and that the company reflects their efforts.
“I design the clothing and me and my sister work with local a seamstress,” Serrato said. “The dream is to focus on more ethical clothing.”
In addition to workshops and vendors, there will also be live music courtesy of Radio Tona among others, a dance performance by Ruth in Truth, and a vintage Mexican music performance by Sin Color.
“We want to cultivate self-love and sisterhood and [promote] ways to love yourself and to start really building a relationship with yourself and with the community. We have so many talents in our community, we should be proud of what we can make possible.”