Often described by Latinas/os in South Florida as a low-class, slutty, tough, and crass young woman, the hypervisible figure known as the "chonga" is practically invisible in feminist scholarship. This paper examines the meanings associated with the chonga identity and the emergence of visual representations of chongas in order to understand how these bodies produce and reflect discourses about Latina girls' sexuality, ethnicity, and class. I argue that the sexual-aesthetic excess of chonga bodies complicates dichotomies of "good" versus "bad" girls and signifies non-normative politics that trouble the disciplining of behavior and dress for girls of color. I offer sexual-aesthetic excess as a concept in order to theorize modes of dress and comportment that are often considered "too much": too ethnic, too sexy, too young, too cheap, too loud.

My arguments are based on a questionnaire regarding chongas that I administered to South Florida residents and analyses of related visual representations. The questionnaire responses illustrate the meanings associated with the chonga identity and reflect the discursive field in which images of these young women circulate. The chonga images and questionnaire responses inform each other, as there is a recursive relationship between social discourse and visual production.


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pp. 63-90
Launched on MUSE
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