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Chicle zine encourages gender roles, empowerment and community

Chicle zine encourages gender roles, empowerment and community

Chicle zine encourages gender roles, empowerment and community
November 25
11:28 2019

Pink is associated with gentleness, tenderness and charm, but what if we could alter its meaning?

Jessica Sanchez is a visual communications senior at the University of Arlington, and Gisela Garcia is a fashion marketing junior at El Centro College. The two believe that with their magazine (zine), Chicle, they can reinvent what it means to be feminine yet powerful.

“Pink was always seen as a weak color or [not] taken seriously,” Sanchez said. “[We] had never seen anything like [Chicle] before.”

Chicle, which translates to “gum” in Spanish, is the name of the zine curated by Sanchez. What started out as just a simple assignment for her graphic design class began to grow into a manifestation of future plans. Sanchez took her idea to Garcia’s apartment, where they made their first zine titled “The Pee Sessions,” which discusses the bathroom culture women are known for.

A year later, the Chicle zine has grown into four more issues and has incorporated pins, stickers and T-shirts. With more than 1,000 followers on Instagram, Chicle is on its way to bigger bubbles. They have participated in events around the metroplex, like the recent Fold Festival held at Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works on Oct. 20.

Sticking with the original pink theme, both Sanchez and Garcia said they wanted to showcase the struggle of Latina women in the Latino community, which is led by strong gender roles and traditions. The goal is to showcase the challenges they  face that are readily allowed to be said out loud in their community.

Garcia said that coming from a conservative family, the only type of careers that were accepted by her parents were those that ensured a stable income. Her fashion marketing degree was already pushing it, but the zine especially did not seem to sit well with them.

“My parents were very confused about [Chicle],” she said. “My mom would tell me, ‘I know what a magazine is, but what’s it for?’”

With a similar background, Sanchez never formally introduced Chicle to her parents. Although her father has not spoken to her about the concepts and illustrations that are on the spreads, Sanchez said her mother has made some comments about the adult-based content.

“’There you are with your butt cheeks all out,’” Sanchez said, recalling one of her mom’s comments.

Despite the long trudge to show their parents the significance of the zine, Sanchez said that the support from other aunts, cousins and strangers has been incredibly humbling and sometimes unexpected.

“There are a few encounters where [strangers] will roll their eyes,” Sanchez said. “But the other day we had a 50-year-old woman have a great 30-minute conversation with us about the zine. I guess we’re doing something good.”

Garcia said the imposter syndrome hits hard even after receiving many positive reviews on their Instagram.

While they struggle to make a dent in a strict culture and expand new progressive perspectives, there are still some challenges beyond the community that the ladies still face. Garcia and Sanchez both said that with their conflicting schedules and their little experience with writing no more than school essays, finding time is the greatest hurdle in their road to success. The pair also has to invest their time in layout design and illustration.

“I’ve never been into writing like this, it’s been a learning curve, but we have gotten a lot of practice from [writing for Chicle],” Garcia said.

Garcia said that zines have no rules. The creation of them can be ambiguous. Garcia and Sanchez admire other big zines in the area, but they sometimes are faced with comparing themselves to the bigger staffed zines. Despite the ill feelings from time to time, Sanchez and Garcia said Chicle has expanded their worldview to higher and sexier mindsets.

“I have tapped back into my creativity from when I was younger,” Sanchez said.

The freedom of expression, she said, allows her to feel courageous. She said she believes anything can be spoken into existence.

Garcia also feels more self-confident since the creation of the zine. Steamier photos demanded the founders to be more in tune with their body, which she said created a higher level of body positivity throughout the course of the past year.

“This is real, this is how I look and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Garcia said.

Isabel Ann Castro, the San Anto Zine Fest organizer and a fan of Chicle, said that Chicle is everything she wanted someone to tell her in her teens and early twenties.

“The work they create is loud and in your face, but still so personal,” Castro said. “It features them but it’s like a conversation. They’re telling you you’re worthy and loved just as you are cause f— anyone telling you otherwise.”

Sanchez and Garcia do not plan on stopping anytime soon. Sanchez said she believes this project can become a full-time job. They are also looking forward to accepting writers and artists in the future once Chicle establishes more profit. However, as of now, they are not in the works of expanding the team.

“We don’t feel right to bring people on board [right now],” Sanchez said. “We just wouldn’t know what the compensation would be [for the artists and illustrators].”

The last thing they would want to do, she said, is exploit the creations of others and have decided to be a two-woman team for the time being.

Sanchez and Garcia want to continue to motivate Latina women and other Mexican Americans who are not finding their place here in this country. Through this project they have met other women of color who also own small businesses. They enjoy the atmosphere when they are surrounded by other bootstrapping companies.

“It’s been amazing and badass,” Garcia said. “It’s a blessing.”

Featured Image: Gisela Garcia and Jessica Sanchez. Image courtesy Chicle Zine

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Marilyn Velazquez

Marilyn Velazquez

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