Let’s Talk About The Chola Girls

Everyone from Lily Allen to FKA twigs has bought into this Mexican subculture


by Hanna Hanra |
Published on

Subcultures are two-a-penny these days, but Chola has to be one of the most interesting. An actual Chola girl would generally be a girlfriend or sister of a Mexican gangbanger – tough as nails but still feminine, with thin arched eyebrows (tattooed or pencilled on), dark brown lip liner, crunchy moussed or wet look hair in a high, tight ponytail and tonnes of gold jewellery. Pair all that with plain shirts and sneaks and you have something unique.


But Chola is no longer confined to this group of Mexican girls. It’s been making its way into the mainstream now for a few years – and you’ll have noticed people like Lily Allen instagramming their chola selves. Plus a lot of girls dressing chola on the street who aren’t actually chola.

‘This generation’s cool, tough, pretty girls at American high schools weren’t Riot Grrrls, they were Latina,’ says editor of LOVE magazine and Chola girl fan Jack Sunnucks. So why has it suddenly become a look for pasty white girls from England?

‘I think as Latinas become a majority in the USA, their culture and heritage is being examined and ultimately, plundered,’ continues Jack. ‘Also, the look is both girly and tough. And that’s hot and empowering to many women.’


Styled by Karen Clarkson for the cover of Dazed, esoteric pop newcomer FKA twigs is the latest to succumb to the Chola look. ‘Fashion is always looking for a clever, urban trend to rip off,’ says superstylist Victoria Young, who recently styled twigs for American Vogue. ‘I think everyone got hooked on chola a couple of years ago, when these YouTube make up clips started to emerge.’

And what about now? ‘twigs is prolific for this look, she has such tight control over her image. Chola is really about hair and make-up and attitude, as opposed to actual clothing,’ she adds.

According to UnitedGangs.com (don’t pretend you don’t check that website regularly), Chola girls carry razor blades in their mouths, knives in their hair and are able to conceal weapons and drugs in their bodies. They even occasionally carry out murder, luring rival gang members to a deadly kill zone before their victim is executed by a male Cholo.

As lovely as that doesn’t sound, it’s probably easier to get the look with these easy steps.

  1. Shave off your eyebrows and draw them in with a marker pen or liquid or gel eyeliner. Think Ursula from The Little Mermaid taken by ambush.

  2. Draw on your lip liner. Use the darkest shade of lip liner you can find. Mix it with the eyeliner you just drew your eyebrows on with if it’s not dark enough.

  3. LOTS OF POWDER ideally paler than your skin tone. Cholas don’t do oily t-zone. Draw a mole on your upper lip.

  4. Discard your clothes and put on either jeggings or baggy trousers with white boxershorts showing underneath and a tiny T shirt or halterneck up top – ideally baby blue. Your shoes need to be enormous white skate shoes. Most importantly, you need to have at least two gold chains from Argos and the biggest gold hoop earrings Elizabeth Duke offers, teamed with some gold sovereign rings.

  5. Your hair should be in a tight bun with the baby hairs at the front gelled into curls. Top it off with a bandana and some serious attitude.

Follow Hanna on Twitter @hannahanra

Pictures: Courtesy of Dazed & Confused, @katyperry

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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