The Critical Aesthetic of Disorder: A Porteña Crisis of Size

Melissa Maldonado-Salcedo


In Argentina, contemporary notions of progress originate within the whitening projects of the nineteenth century. In this work I propose that the imprints of these Colonial modernization projects are still visible on the porteña body. For this reason I examine the Porteño fashion industry alongside the pervasive Barbie culture. I believe that Porteñas embody the national crisis of identity. I seek to pose the possibility—instead of arguing the fact—that the fashion industry’s power over Porteña s (women who live in Buenos Aires Capital) toughened post the economic crisis of 2001. The reason for this is rooted in the relationship of Porteña bodies to the construction and maintenance of Argentina’s simulacrum of modernity.

Furthermore, I present the anorexia epidemic, as well as the recent production of an obesity one, as symptoms of a volatile modernity. I take the European standard of beauty as a direct rejection of Latinization (a cultural identification with the rest of Latin America.) With the growing poverty, unemployment, and hunger rates, today Porteña s are Argentina’s best representation of “European modernity.â€

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