I can’t count the number of times my mother chastised me for slouching throughout my childhood. A few times she even succeeded in convincing me to practice walking with a book on my head so that I might “improve my posture.” Many times, she threatened to send me to “charm school.” Perhaps she should have just considered a nice family getaway to La Antigua Guatemala instead. The Mayan women and the colorful, traditional dress unfailingly catch the “Western eye.” I’m certain as a child I would have been just as mesmerized by their indigenous beauty as I am now. And to think, if my little eyes had spied these women walking around with their wide, brimming baskets of fruits and goods balanced atop of their heads… I imagine my mother would not have been able to keep me from practicing such “poise” when I arrived back at home. I probably would have passed it on to the neighborhood kids as a fun, childhood game – one that would have come with a cultural lesson. So that settles it: when the time comes for me to teach my daughter “posture and poise,” I’m bringing her to observe La Antigua’s Mayan women.
text and photos by Laura McNamara.
© 2009 – 2020, Laura McNamara. All rights reserved.