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Bobbed Hair Blues: A Mexican-American Song Laments “Las Pelonas”

The “new woman” of the 1910s and 1920s rejected the pieties (and often the politics) of the older generation, smoked and drank in public, celebrated the sexual revolution, and embraced consumer culture. The flapper portrayed in cartoons, ads, and nationally circulated journalism, however, was almost always white, with features that denoted Northern European origins. She was also frequently shown with luxury goods or in exclusive settings. But young women of many ethnic groups also took up flapper styles and embraced the spirit of youthful rebellion. A popular song attested to generational conflict among Mexican Americans in San Antonio. In “Las Pelonas”—“The Bobbed Heads,” or “Flappers”—the singer lamented the influence of Anglo youth culture on his Mexican-American community. [English version follows original in Spanish.]

Los pangs colorados

Los tengo aborrecidos,

Y ahora las pelonas

Los usan de vestidos.

Las muchachas de San Antonio

Son flojas pa’l metate.

Quieren andar pelonas

Con sombreros de petate.

Se acabaron las pizcas,

Se acabó el algodón.

Ya andan las pelonas

De puro vacilón,

Red bandanas

I detest,

And now the flappers

Use them for their dress.

The girls of San Antonio

Are lazy at the metate.

They want to walk out bobbed-haired,

With straw hats on.

The harvesting is finished,

So is the cotton.

The flappers stroll out now

For a good time.

Source: "Las Pelonas" in Manuel Gamio, The Life Story of the Mexican Immigrant (New York: Dover, 1971), 308.

See Also:The New Woman of the 1920s: Debating Bobbed-Hair