Dora the Explorer is iconic. A brown, bilingual character who got through situations with her brain, magic mochila and monkey best friend? She was the realest role model for a little Latina like me. But, as I got older, I saw more of another Latina on my screen—the ones with curves that made me feel inadequate and an accent that was bait for laughs—the spicy Latina. If you’re drawing a blank, think Gloria on “Modern Family.”  
Although representation of Latinas on screens has improved in recent years with shows such as “Jane the Virgin,” “Orange is the New Black,” and  “One Day at a Time,” the number of characters who bridge the gap between Dora and Gloria have been few and far between. Many may view the spicy Latina stereotype as a mere inconvenience, but here’s why it actually matters: we turn to media to see ourselves, because of the lack of representation of Latinas in the government and positions of power. Thus, the spicy Latina stereotype actually hurts all of us and hinders Latinas from improving the future for all Americans. 
A common misconception is that it’s a compliment to be portrayed as a spicy Latina. At first glance, it does seem like Latinas are portrayed positively. We’re seen as attractive, passionate women who can whip up a delicious storm in the kitchen and an even better one on the dance floor. But in reality, this stereotype negatively impact how the rest of the world views us.  
A study from the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California released in 2016 found that 39.5 percent of Latinas in film and TV were dressed in sexualized attire, and 35.5 percent in some form of nudity. And this is when audiences see us on screen at all. According to a 2018 Glamour article, although one in five American women identify as Latina, we only make up 7 percent of speaking roles on television. How can Latinas be expected to have big career aspirations when we’re continually objectified in the mainstream media? 
For instance, how many Latinas can you name that are in positions of power in our government? In the entire history of the United States, only 19 Latinas have served in Congress to date. Today, Latinas make up only 3.5 percent of Congress even though Latinxs make up 18 percent of the U.S. population!  
According to the Washington Post, in 2016, Mexican-American Catherine Cortez-Masto became the first Latina in history elected to the U.S. Senate. In an interview with CNN, Cortez-Masto says she knows young Latinas look at her and say, “Oh my gosh, if she can do it, I can do it too.” 
We can also find hope in Texas, who elected its first two Latinas representatives to the House, and with New York sending Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to serve in Congress, among others. 13 Latinas are currently fighting our fight in Congress, which could result in unprecedented improvement for Latinos’, and all Americans’, rights and quality of life.  
Additionally, in 2013, the Center For American Progress found that Latinas make up less than 3 percent of all STEM fields. The spicy Latina’s impact on this is amplified by research conducted by Common Sense Media in 2017 which found that girls who saw more female stereotypes on TV were less interested in STEM careers than those who saw footage featuring female scientists. That is why Latinas must see more stories like Laura Gomez’s to help them break free of stereotypical expectations. Gomez, originally from Mexico, is an entrepreneur and diversity advocate. According to USA Today, she is part of the 1 percent of Latino tech start-up founders. Gomez worked at YouTube and Google before founding her own company, Atipica.  
Hollywood writers and producers have the power to influence how media-consuming Americans see Latinas, which is why accurate representation matters. We need real, complex Latina characters who know their roots, but are not placed in a mold. Once we see more diverse portrayals of Latinas on our screens, I believe more Latinas will dream bigger than they ever thought possible and hopefully find themselves in a wide variety of real-life roles, whether they be in the government or Silicon Valley. 
As for what we can do, it’s actually easier than we think. Through various social media apps, simply liking or sharing a Latinx’s story can expand awareness. We can look at Gina Rodriguez’ #MovementMondays for inspiration. Created by Rodriguez in 2016 in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, she uses the hashtag to highlight and celebrate Latinx actors and their work every Monday on her Instagram, increasing Latinx visibility. We can also make an effort to support shows, films and other media content made by Latinxs. I recommend starting with wearemitú.com for some great content on the diverse Latinx experiences in America.  
Latinas should not need to continually prove their Latinidad by conforming to a stereotype. Rodriguez said it best in an interview with HuffPost Live, “I don’t actually sit in a definition (of a Latina). I walk in my world, happily and confidently.”  
So, can we please reserve the use of the word “spicy” to food only? I am not a jalapeño.
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The noisy gym cheered for 25-year-old Alex Georgiadis as she won a championship with her co-ed volleyball team. They worked hard for this moment. While their team wasn’t part of a professional league, their win symbolizes the benefits of playing on a co-ed team, or a team with both males and females. 
Professional co-ed teams could have victories similar to Georgiadis’. If women were allowed to play on professional sports teams with men, the combination of their skills would make the team better, and it would help motivate other women to join the sport.  
Women have been fighting for a place in sports for many years. During the 20th century, women were finally allowed to participate in the Olympics. This gave them the chance to earn gold medals and have their name imprinted in history. There was Gertrude Ederle, who won a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay in the 1924 Olympics. In 1945 Babe Didrikson Zaharias became the first woman to make the 36-hole cut to qualify to play against men in a PGA Tour. Wilma Rudolph was the first woman to win three gold medals in track and field in 1960 Olympics.  
In 1972, Title IX changed the game for women. Title IX is a “federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding.” Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of gender is not allowed. Now, we have women’s teams for sports such as basketball, volleyball, tennis, track and soccer at high school and college levels. There are also some professional women’s sports teams, like the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association. 
However, co-ed sports are nowhere to be found in the world of professional sports. Even though women can technically participate in professional sports leagues like the NFL and the MLB, there is a strong social stigma that stops them from playing. An article in ESPN tells the story of Okiima Pickett, a running back on a D.C women’s football team. She dreamed of playing on the Redskins, but never made it close to the NFL because she was prevented from playing on her high school football team in Charlottesville, VA. Her coach told her he didn't want to see her get hurt, demonstrating the social stigma against women in sports typically played by men only. 
Fans are ready to see something new for a change. “I think it’d be interesting if females and males played on the same team,” my uncle, a Boston Celtics fan, said. 
If professional teams were co-ed it would lift the social stigma and encourage girls to play. Georgiadis stated that she would like to see more females playing in professional sports, and she would like to encourage others to do so as well. Since men’s professional teams are very popular, females playing on those teams would catch the attention of many other women.  
Maybe these teams believe that they’re fine without women in their league. Maybe they don’t want the way their league runs to change if women are added. Maybe they believe that they’ll be criticized by fellow fans if they add females to their teams.  
However, that shouldn’t be true. If the MLB, NFL, and NBA refuse to change, there should be new professional leagues made for co-ed teams. Maybe someday there’ll be a professional co-ed league for volleyball, just like Georgiadis’. Maybe, because of their skill, these professional teams will have a lot of wins, just as Georgiadis’ team won. Maybe someday, the professional sports world will realize that women can benefit their teams.
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Once, when Boston resident Jeff Paddock was a teenager, he saved up all of his money. He had about $250. He was saving to buy a leather jacket that he liked. About two weeks after buying his jacket, his friends got tickets to a concert. He wanted to go so badly that he asked his mom for money to buy a ticket, but she said no and his next paycheck didn’t come for another few weeks. Paddock learned a lesson from this whole experience.  
Now, Paddock is the financial empowerment coordinator at Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, a nonprofit organization located in the South End. Here are his tips on how teens can better manage and budget their money.  
Make sure you have money set aside for emergencies.  
You never know what’s going to happen—if you lose your bus pass, need to buy necessities, or realize you forgot to buy something for school at the last minute—you want to make sure you have money to cover it. “It is important to spend less than you make,” Paddock said. If you have leftover cash, try putting it in a special pocket in your wallet or a different place to make sure you don’t spend it and have it nearby in case of an emergency. 
A good way to learn how to make a budget is to draw it out on a piece of paper, so you can see how much you have and how much you spend. 
If you realize you spend too much money, here is a good way to make sure you can manage your money! First, make sure you have paper and three different colored markers. I suggest using red, green and black markers. Use the red to draw how much you are spending. Use the green for how much you have. Use black to draw what you want to buy. With this you can see how much you spend. Make sure you always have money left over. 
Don’t let technology fool you: if you click “buy” too many times on a website, you might buy your item more than once.  
Lots of teens have access to Amazon and other online shopping sites. If you want to purchase something and you click “buy” three times, you might end up buying that item three times and spending three times the money. When you click buy once, wait for it to say that you bought the item instead of clicking buy again. Technology requires patience.  
Spend less than you make. 
This is important. You always want to keep this in mind while you're shopping or trying to budget. It is always good to spend less than you make because when you get a job you will get paychecks and if you have money left over you can add that onto your budget from your next paycheck. Or, if you have an allowance you can add on to your extra money with your allowance.
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Taza Chocolate Factory Tour 
If you are a chocolate lover this is where you should go. At the Taza Chocolate store, you can watch them grind cacao beans using hand-carved granite millstones which results in a bold tasting stone ground chocolate. You can go on a chocolate tasting tour Monday through Friday from 11 am - 6 pm, and Saturday through Sunday from 10 am - 6 pm. The cost is $8 per person and online reservations are required.  
Taza Chocolate Factory, 561 Windsor St., Somerville.  
Ice Skating at the Boston Common Frog Pond 
Not only is the Frog Pond a place to go in the summer for the spray pool, but it’s also amazing in the winter. You can spend an afternoon skating on perfect ice and getting bites to eat from the snack bar. This place is great for a date or entertaining your children. People 58 inches and over only pay $6. Those under 58 inches can skate for free. If you don’t have skates, you can rent a pair for a very cheap price: $12 for adults and $6 for kids. I recommend this because I had so much fun skating here when I was younger. I enjoyed spending time with my friends and getting a snack.  
Boston Common Frog Pond, Boston. 
Skywalk Observatory 
The Skywalk Observatory is a closed room with clear windows where you can see all of Boston. It is an amazing view and imagine how wonderful it looks during the winter with all the snow and the trees. You can also go on a audio tour and get a 360 degree view of Boston. You can see wonderful famous landmarks such as the Hancock Tower, Fenway Park, the Boston Common and Public Garden. The Skywalk is open all days of the week from 10 am - 8 pm. If you are going in the winter I would recommend going in the afternoon before it gets too dark out. In the end, it is all up to you what time is best for you to go and see the splendid view.  
Skywalk Observatory, Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston. 
Hot Chocolate Flights at MET Back Bay 
The Hot Chocolate Flight at MET Back Bay debuted earlier this winter. The flight features four hot chocolate creations that are great for a stormy winter day. The four unique flavors include classic, espresso, caramel sea salt and white chocolate peppermint. The drinks are all served in tall, clear glass mugs, each with unique garnishes. The classic hot chocolate is comprised of vanilla chocolate, whipped cream and mini toasted marshmallows. The espresso hot chocolate is garnished with an almond biscotti, the caramel sea salt has whipped cream and a caramel drizzle, and the white chocolate peppermint has crushed peppermint stick and a candy cane. This is perfect for a cold winter day to go out with friends.  
MET Back Bay, 297 Dartmouth St., Boston. 
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Cancel the crab rangoon: It’s time to serve up authentic Chinese cuisine
We've all been there: you walk into a foreign restaurant and become puzzled by the menu. You randomly choose something—eenie, meenie, miny, moe—and the food turns out to be awful.  
Many teens enjoy Chinese food, but few are knowledgeable about the authentic cuisine. When local teens are asked to name as many Chinese foods as they can in under two minutes, common American-Chinese foods like fried rice, lo mein and chicken teriyaki are mentioned. Most authentic Chinese food is very different from American-Chinese food. It is not over sauced and does not contain a lot of grease. Authentic Chinese food is split by the many regions of the country and each region's style varies from others.  

Cantonese Cuisine 
Cantonese cuisine originated in the Guangdong province and it is the most eaten Chinese cuisine in the world. An authentic Cantonese chef will preserve the food's natural flavor, so little spices are added and there are not a lot of calories. The flavors of Cantonese cuisine are usually mild, fresh and slightly sweet. Some of the most popular Cantonese dishes you should try are Chinese steamed eggs, white cut chicken or char siu (barbecue pork). I have tasted all three dishes and they are wonderful. Think of a smooth ride on a water slide, that’s how smooth the steamed egg goes down your throat. An authentic Chinese steamed egg dish has the consistency of jelly and it is usually coated in light soy sauce. The Chinese white cut chicken is both juicy and tender, and it preserve the natural taste of chicken. The chicken is chopped into pieces and coated with light soy sauce to give it a golden look. Char siu has a reddish brown coating and tastes slightly sweet. Skewed over the fire and constantly coated with spices, char siu is moist on the inside and slightly chewy on the outside.  
Since many Americans are accustomed to deeply flavored food, authentic Cantonese food might taste very bland to them. To get the best authentic Cantonese food experience, I recommend slowly working your way from American-Chinese restaurants to authentic Cantonese restaurants, and dialing down the over flavored taste. A recommended Cantonese restaurant to try is Jade Garden, located in Chinatown on 20 Tyler Street. 
Sichuan Cuisine 
Sichuan cuisine, from the Sichuan region, is favored among the youth because of its spice. Sichuan cuisine is most famous for it's hot and spicy flavors, especially the must-have seasoning, Sichuan pepper. After eating Sichuan cuisine, it's usual for people's mouth to feel numb. Some famous Sichuan dishes you should try are the pockmarked granny bean curd, sesame oil chicken and Sichuan hot pot. Personally, anything that contains Sichuan pepper is saliva-inducing and appetizing. 
Hunan Cuisine 
Hunan cuisine, from the Hunan region, is also hot and spicy like Sichuan cuisine. The difference is that instead of numbing your tongue to the point where foods start to taste the same, Hunan cuisine stimulates your taste buds so you can taste the flavors. Hunan food is even hotter than Sichuan food and a bit sour. Some famous Hunan dishes that you should try are boiled yellow catfish, Mao's braised pork and dry-wok chicken. 
Fujian Cuisine 
Fujian cuisine originated from the southeastern province of Fujian and has a long history dating thousands of years. Fujian cuisines uses natural ingredients from mountains and the sea like wild herbs, mushrooms and bamboos in their cooking. The flavors of Fujian cuisines are usually light, with a slight sweetness and sourness. Some famous Fujian dishes are crispy skin fish rolls, clams in chicken soup and drunken ribs. 
Shandong Cuisine 
The last region on this list is Shandong which includes different kinds of seafood in their dishes because Shandong province is near a coast. An authentic Shandongese chef aims to preserve the natural color, taste and cut of the food. The flavor of Shandong cuisine is slightly salty and sometimes crispy. Some famous Shandong dishes you should try are sweet potato with caramelized sugar, red braised king prawns and dezhou stewed chicken. 

If you ever complain that your local American-Chinese restaurants cooks bad food, you haven't eaten real Chinese food yet. The next time you enter a Chinese restaurant, order white cut chicken instead of chicken teriyaki, char siu instead of dumplings, crispy skin fish rolls instead of crab rangoons and oranges instead of fortune cookies. 
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