{mosimage}Dear Mexican: How come all the Mexicans who came here two or three generations ago look like “almost-white” people while the ones coming now look like those little guys who live naked in the Amazon and kill things with blowguns?

—No Indios Need Apply

Dear NINA: Chalk the phenomenon up to the natural unfolding that is the American immigrant experience. Countries tend to dump their upwardly mobile, lighter-skinned natives on the United States before the darker folks show up in the steerage of rusting freighters — remember that northern Italians arrived at Ellis Island before their swarthy Sicilian paisanes. That’s what’s happening with Mexico, NINA. In his 1983 study East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio, historian Ricardo Romo cites a 1922 demographic survey that showed almost two-thirds of the Mexican community of Los Angeles at the time originated from just four states: Chihuahua, Durango, Jalisco and Zacatecas. These states are in north-central Mexico, where the conquistadors spread their seed farthest and most vigorously. As the 20th century progressed, however, Mexico’s poorer, more indigenous states in the south tumbled like dominoes as they sent their populations to el Norte, subsequently ratcheting up the brownie mixture in the Mexican-American pot. Michoacán and Puebla (next to Mexico City) didn’t start sending their residents en masse to the U.S. until around the mid-20th century; Guerrero and Oaxaca followed around the 1970s; our Central American colony, Guatemala, now follows. The push continues even in Mexico — in a 2004 Orange County Register piece, staffer Valeria Godines described the tensions between the güeros of Arandas, Jalisco and Chiapan immigrants, showing Mexicans can be as race-obsessed as their gabacho oppressors.

Why do Mexicans swim in the ocean with their clothes on? I mean, denim?!

—Vicente Fox’s Mustache

Why do Mexicans like swimming in their clothes? Is it a Catholic thing? I remember as a child growing up in the San Fernando Valley that my pocho Catholic cousin even bathed at home in his T-shirt and underwear through his adolescence. He claims the nuns told him it was a sin to be naked.


I am half-Mexican myself but just don’t understand — why do Mexicans wear their clothes when swimming? They are the only people at a beach or public swimming spot who do it. Very bizarre — please explain!


Dear Pochos: This is by far the most-asked question in ¡Ask a Mexican! history. So, to todos ustedes, I have my own question: Are you all brown chubby chasers? Like gabachos, an alarming number of Mexicans are out of shape. According to a 2003 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 24 percent of Mexico’s population is overweight. That’s the second-highest obesity rate in the world following — wait for it — ¡los Estados Unidos! Unlike gabachos, Mexicans respect the public when it comes to flashing our flabby chichis, pompis and cerveza guts — so when we’re out near the pool or by the beach, we cover up. It ain’t Catholicism, machismo or an homage to our swim across the Rio Grande. It’s good manners.

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net. Questions will be edited for clarity, cabrones. And include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we’ll make one up for you! Plus, this week, the Mexican appears at the L.A. Times Festival of Books for a panel discussion Sun., April 29, at 2:30 p.m.

LA Weekly