Why Selena Still Matters

Selena Quintanilla-Perez died March 31, 1995. She was at the height of her career and was about to release an English album. Up until this point she was a Spanish-singing pop star as well as a Tejano music celebrity. Not only did she make Tejano mainstream, she also broke barriers for women in the industry and specifically for Latinx everywhere.

Selena was the first Tejano artist to win a Grammy for her Live! album. She had her own boutique, and was also a model. Although she was often criticized for wearing suggestive outfits on stage, she never let anyone tell her what she could and couldn’t wear.

She continued to wear her memorable clothes and inspired young women in the Latin and American cultures. Some compare her to Madonna, calling her “The Mexican Madonna.” A more relevant comparison today might be “The Mexican Beyoncé.” 

Despite having lived a short life (she was killed at the age of 23), she left a huge impact in Mexican-American music and in the lives of everyone who knew who she was. More importantly, she left an impact on Latinas everywhere, even those who were too young to know who she was at the height of her popularity.

Latinas now had someone they could look up to and say, “There is someone who looks like me! I can do big things, I can be whatever I want to be and succeed.” Even after her death Selena made hits; her unfinished English album was released and won Album of the year at the 1996 Tejano Music Awards.

Her songs can still be heard on the radio today. She was one of the first Mexican-American mainstream artists, one of the first pop stars out of South Texas, and one of the first females to be successful in Tejano music. 

She is still one of the most successful artists to come from South Texas, and continues to make an impact in lives of Latina women. She will always be an inspiration to those who know her story - one of struggle, hardship, and success. The reason why so many people look up to her or feel a connection is because they can relate to her and her humble beginnings.

Mechelle Arredondo, 38-year-old South Texas resident remembers how Selena was such a relatable and influential artist in her life.

“Selena was so relatable because I looked like her, she had black and curly hair just like me, she sang in Spanish like me,” Arredondo said. “There was finally someone in the media that I could look up to without having to feel that I had to be blonde, white and skinny. She was the first person in music that I could look up to and actually feel a connection to because she could be like a cousin or a best friend, and that’s why I think so many people like her, she was so down to earth, she was just like me, like my next-door neighbor and everyone in my community.”

This year marks Selena’s 22nd year gone. Since her tragic death, Mac Cosmetics has released a make-up line in her honor, Stripes gas stations released a limited edition cup that sold out within hours, her own wax figure from Madame Tussaud’s and a festival in April dedicated to her called Fiesta de La Flor.

As the years go by it seems that Selena only grows in popularity with her music reaching new audiences every day. She will always live in the hearts of the Latinx culture, and through the lasting mark she left in South Texas and all around the world.