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El Qué Dirán

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This post was inspired by Put Pie, my 3-year-old, and her love of wearing mismatched socks.

It’s a fashion choice for her, it makes her happy and a little more excited about her day. I think it’s cute, but the other day El Qué Dirán tried to contaminate Put Pie via me.

For those of you that don’t know what El Qué Dirán is, Urban Dictionary defines it as:

The unspoken belief in latin-american culture that every person’s actions in society are subject to the scrutiny and criticism of every person they know. El Que Dirán is a way to regulate the behaviors of the fringes of Latin America, by concentrating the disapproval of their parents and friends through gossip.

Here’s what happened, we were getting ready to go out and Put Pie was wearing clean mismatched socks, I was about to open my mouth and tell her to put on a pair of matching socks when I stopped and asked myself…WHY? Why did she have to change her socks? The only reason for her to change her socks was that I was worried about El Qué Dirán.

What would people say or think when they saw my daughter with mismatched socks?

They would think that I was a careless parent that doesn’t pay enough attention to her child. That she doesn’t even have matching socks. That the poor thing has to dress herself even though she is so young.

Now of course, all of this stuff was unconscious until it wasn’t and when it became conscious, I’m happy to say that I didn’t give a rat’s a$$ about El Qué Dirán. I let my daughter wear her mismatched socks and didn’t say a word about it.

I don’t know how old I was when I was first infected with the concept of El Qué Dirán, but I do know that I fought against it, that I resented it, that it was ridiculously limiting and judgemental, that it was arbitrary and sometimes ugly. I also realize that I will not be able to keep Put Pie from catching a dose of El Qué Dirán forever, but I do not want to be the person that gives it to her.

For now, I want her to be blissfully unaware of El Qué Dirán. It’s not just about her socks, the other day we were walking home and she was hot so she took off her shirt and walked home shamelessly bare-chested and happy. These shameless days are limited, but for now they ARE and they are beautiful.

Do not be fooled into thinking that El Qué Dirán is exclusively a Latin American condition. Until there is a vaccine, you must just shake it off whenever you feel it.

So tell me are you are carrier of El Qué Dirán?


Wait, before you go! If you like this post, por please share it, pin it, tweet it, call your mom and tell her about it or give it a hug. Muchos thank yous!

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  • http://afcsoac.blogspot.com/ lisleman

    “…poor thing has to dress herself even though she is so young”  I believe I found a typo.  That should read, “smart thing is proud to dress herself even though she is so young”  I think kids should start dressing themselves as soon as possible.  Gossip – to hell with gossip – now a good rumor that’s different.

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      I like your fix on the typo. Perhaps we should invent something like spell check in post editors that is called attitude adjustment.
      Oh, I might just have to turn that into a post.

      • http://afcsoac.blogspot.com/ lisleman

        Go for it girl!  Oh wait that’s such an Oprah saying and she is off the air and I didn’t care much for her show but she did generate positive messages and now I am babbling on – later

  • http://landlock-mo.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    Something tells me that PutPie needs to go shopping here http://www.littlemissmatched.com/

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      Thanks for the link.

      • http://www.classicnycstory.com Classic NYer

        Do they have things in grown up sizes?

  • Smitten Images

    I think it’s adorable when kidlets dress themselves. Somehow it always looks cuter on the girls though. I worry more now about what my younger son opts to wear. He’s into heavy metal and is ALWAYS in a black t-shirt with some metal band’s logo on it. As long as he doesn’t wear the really gross ones to Christmas, I guess I’m not getting “the look” from El Qué Dirán

    • http://profiles.google.com/baovom Beth O

      actually had a coworker literally tell me I was a bad parent for letting my 15-year-old daughter dye her hair blue. Come one, anything temporary is temporary! And I will still put my relationship with my daughter (19 now) up against anybody’s who thinks their teenager is a perfect angel. Ha. I know where these kids really are on Saturday night because I see them over in my neighborhood buying drugs, driving their mom’s car. My daughter talks to me about what she is feeling and doing. I don’t have to assume she’s not into anything dangerous because I KNOW. That’s the important thing. No, I haven’t been her buddy or her friend, I’m her mom. I have stepped in when and where needed. But it’s been easier for her to give me real information, not hide things, when she knew I wasn’t going to freak out about something irrelevant. If I said not to do something, whether she understood at that moment or not she knew there was a good reason having to do with safety or people’s real feelings, not appearances. No not that she obeyed me all the time but she has arrived safely at adulthood as a very responsible and loving person, and now she talks to me just because she wants to, how many 19 year olds do that? I think you’re on the right track with Mr. Black, just keep letting him know you value him for what he is not for some conception of what you or someone else thought he’d be or should be, and keep the honest communication going.

  • Claudia Almandoz

    “el qué dirán” definitely an ingredient in my life…. BUt my mamita tried as hard as she could to erase that from my latina genes…still, it´s impossible to erase completely and I find I have this little “qué dirán” dude on my shoulder and I brush him off daily (part of my everyday cleansing routine) just like mommy taught me. Living in Mexico can be funny cause just when you think you got rid of the little bugger…you find him in someone´s elses eyes, more or less, depending on what part of the country you live in. Where we live, I get this terrible look from people when they see my husband´s tattoo´s… like I married a narco or something!
    Great post!


  • Sunshine

    I think its adorable when children dress themselves. They have their own minds. Love it~! Great post!!!

  • LL Cool Joe

    Both my 13 and 17 year old daughters wear mis matching socks. I think it must be in or something, or they are too lazy to find a matching pair.

  • http://twitter.com/LaliQuin AutismWonderland

    Good for Put Pie – if it makes her happy!  Who is it hurting?  All this “El Que Diran” has inspired a blog post :)  Thx!  

    • http://www.unknownmami.com/ unknownmami

      Yay! Can’t wait to read it.

  • Myya Saad

    I have as of recent decided to let go & just let my girls be when it comes to dressing.  I don’t let them go out like a ragga-muffin, but mismatched socks or mismatched skirt & shirt I ahve been doing.  The fight is not worth it.  Plus, they believe they look beautiful why shouldn’t I. :)

  • http://www.ttelroc.blogspot.com Kristin_The_Goat

    I took my 7 year old niece to her swim class and she asked me to hold up the towel so she could get undressed behind it.  I didn’t think anything of it, until she said “OK! I’m ready!” and all she had on was the bottom of her suit.  I didn’t question why she didn’t get fully dressed behind the towel or anything but instead enjoyed that she could be free to have her shirt off without feeling self conscious. 

    The stores sell mismatched socks now – I bought a few pair for my nieces.  Put Pie is actually trendy!

  • Anonymous

    Wow, you are a great mom. To become aware of the crap that could turn things from good to bad and to stomp it out and not let it happen. What the heck matters if she wears mismatched socks, you are so right. I was guilty of something like that when you kids were pretty young. They had nice pajamas and sometimes they would say they didn’t want to put them on, they wanted to sleep in some clothes. I would think, (or rather, not think) well darn it they have nice pajamas by golly they are going to wear them. One time a gal friend was visiting and she called me on it, asked what difference it made as long as my kids were happy. WTH. I was so thankful for her waking me up. 

  • Tina

    I think mismatched songs are her way of saying she is having a fun day. Awesome.  I need to adopt that plan!

  • Tina

    ugh…I mean mismatched socks, not songs….I need more coffee..

  • Anonymous

    I think I used to be one, but then came to the same realization as you!  As a result, my 20 year old still wears mismatched socks…just because she can…and wants to make the same statement that it really is unimportant.  I cherish the differences we have (even though we argue almost on a daily basis) but feel so good that she has the confidence to pull off just about anything!  You are a great mami!!!

  • Anonymous

    I think it would be hard not to be a carrier in today’s world!!  I know I was bare chested as a child, I’ve seen the pictures, but I don’t remember those days. How freeing to do what you please without comment.

  • http://pinkguayoyo.com Helenabeatriz

    El que diran can be exhausting! Not doing/wearing/singing/reading/saying what you want because of what other’s will think is a full time job. I have tried to throw some of it out the window but nurture can be very strong and stubborn. Must learn from my son to just let go and really focus on what matters :) I loved her socks! We should all wear something like that. 

  • http://bechicmag.com Mercedes S.

    Your daughter is a trendsetter! Many blessings :) 

  • http://profiles.google.com/baovom Beth O

    El que diran keeps people from having fun, from acting on good ideas, and from showing their love the way they feel. Our 3-year-old is already getting inhibited about things like singing or dancing if anyone else is around. Heck yeah we gotta fight!!!

  • Keetha Broyles

    I am SOOOOO loving this.  No, of course not, DON’T make her change those socks!!!!  Put Pie rocks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sonia-Guerra/741730817 Sonia Guerra

    El que diran is not a concern for me, however the uneven wear on socks and the real chance that in later years they’ll mismatch out of laziness not social statement is a true fact of life.  Having lived through 3 washing machine challenged teens I know of what I speak.

  • Elisaabatista

    i used to be afflicted by El Que Dirán. But there is no way I’d get out the door in time if I didn’t let my daughter dress herself. Yeah she looks like a hippy: uncombed hair, mismatched clothes. Luckily the pant and skirt look is in — she loves that combination! 

    • http://profiles.google.com/baovom Beth O

      had an issue with my daughter when she was in preschool not wanting to get dressed at all. Somehow if she could choose her clothes that wasn’t enough. Maybe she wanted to struggle with whatever I was asking her to do. I just got so tired of fighting with her one day we just went like that, in her nightgown, hair such a rat’s nest she couldn’t even push it back out of her eyes at all. So she was like that all day. I explained this to the teacher in the morning but she just looked at me funny and I walked out pretty quickly! But you know what happened, the kids asked her why she was like that and guess what! Never had a problem after then. No more morning fights about clothes. Until much older when she had to be in uniform. You know what I let her sit in detention all day because I refused to leave work and go get her proper clothing. Oh and by that age it was not cured with one episode but I didn’t change my position. Yes I think the principal thought my mom skills were very weak. 
      I just couldn’t be fighting with her all the time over small stuff. Whatever the people at school might think…

  • http://lovesujeiry.com Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love

    I am a carrier. Luckily, I am aware of the symptoms so I can shake it off as soon as judgements and word vomit appear!

  • http://www.vidyasury.com Vidya Sury

    Your Put Pie is a smart girl and it is great to see she’s got a terrific Mommy.El Qué Dirán knows no regional boundaries. I am  happy to think it is absent in our family’s genetic make-up though :-) Vidur would wear mismatched shoes (with other weird clothing) all the time when he was little and we didn’t give a rodent’s backside either. Still don’t about anything even though those days are long gone. People, I think, most times, are envious of those who go off on a tangent because they themselves did not have the guts to do so. When we go by other people’s standards, we can never lead a “normal” life. Normal can usually be boring.

  • http://www.classicnycstory.com Classic NYer

    Two different color socks? That’s a disaster waiting to happen!!!!

    You’re right that El Que Diran is not just a Latin American thing (although I imagine only Spanish speakers call it that). My uncles are shameless in reminding me how my percieved failures and inability to conform to old-world cultural norms reflect badly on the family, and as such, make it a point to (attempt to) pry into my personal life at any given moment. Because a respectable member of the culture would have been a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or biochemist by now… not a singer (albeit a fairly successful one).

    And it all started in jr high, when I simultaneously got into music and started wearing two different color socks.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if you don’t teach your daughter the importance of wearing both her socks in the same color, she might grow up to be a successful musician and shame your family with her mad singing skillz. And really, who wants that?

  • Morena Escardo

    I’ve been infected, even though Ive battled against it all my life. But I keep trying to regain my (mental) health. I love your Put Pie’s mismatched socks! They looks super cool! :D Much better than being boringly inside the box.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never been a big fan of El Que Diran, and believe me I see it everyday in my small town. :P  But I am a big fan of mismatched socks.  Put Pie looks so cute!  This post just proves what I’ve always known…You are one awesome Mamá! :)  

  • Anonymous

    Let me tell you, while I never heard this name before tonight, it soooo exists in white suburban neighborhoods, as well. And it is a voice inside my head that I have to fight against. The other day, my son wanted to wear two different shoes. It was a swallow hard moment but I did it.

  • Catalina

    I can sooo relate to the El Qué Dirán. Most of the time I don’t care, but…. The fear of disapproval is so deeply rooted in that phrase that at times it still grabs a hold of me when I want to do certain things. I need a vaccine! ;)

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