Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show
At first, I was skeptical about Shakira and J. Lo performing the Super Bowl halftime show. To my knowledge, it had been quite a while since either of them released new music, or since I’d even heard them on the radio. Then, I found out the Super Bowl would take place in my hometown, Miami, which is basically Northern Cuba, and it all made sense. Miami is the Hispanic hotspot, it’s our city. Of course the show should reflect the culture that’s surrounding it. So naturally, I got excited. After a couple weeks of anticipation, the time finally arrived for the halftime show to roll out on screen. During and after the performance, the only word that popped into my head was: wow. It was absolutely stunning. J. Lo is still Jenny from the block, and Shakira’s hips?! Girl. They don’t lie. Some were unimpressed, but there are a significant amount of reasons to reconsider that perspective.
First of all, let us take into account that Jennifer Lopez is 50 years old. 50. Shakira is 43. Their undeniable talent is remarkably still out of this world, even past their heyday in the entertainment industry. They dance, sing, and perform with the same vibrance and energy I grew up watching them display on screen. I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping I look and dance that good when I reach my 50s. What they did, given their age and the fact that they have several children, was unbelievably impressive.
Having two Latinas lead the halftime show, with guest appearances from Bad Bunny and JBalvin, is also something to be celebrated in and of itself. It was an entirely Latinx halftime show. The diversity that exists within Hispanic cultures was, on top of that, delivered to the audience with nothing short of excellent style and taste. Shakira unapologetically embraced her Colombian nationality and Arabic roots, and she paid homage to African pop culture with “Waka Waka” at the end of the show. As her daughter sang a song about living in the U.S. and lines of young hispanic girls surrounded them, J. Lo took on a large feathery Puerto Rican flag with the American flag printed behind it, a political statement commenting on embracing one’s dual identity with pride as a Hispanic born in the U.S.
The representation that seeped through the performances just astounded me. Both J. Lo and Shakira have served as one of the only substantial forms of female Hispanic representation in the media for me as a Cuban-American woman (other than the legendary Celia Cruz), and for countless others as well. I was proud to see that the same Shakira whose dance moves I imitated as a child in my living room is still working and thriving as I go through college. It reminded me of the power that Hispanic-American women manifest to defy the odds on a daily basis; it reminded me of the strength of the female spirit rooted in our culture; it reminded me that the grind doesn’t stop for us when success finally meets us; it reminded me of the perseverance that runs through the veins of generations of Hispanic women who defied the previous odds for us, and never took no as an answer.
These women are mothers, performers, singers, dancers, intellectuals, humanitarians, and Latinas. They stride in the beauty and confidence that I’ve seen shine in every Hispanic woman I’ve met and in the ones I was raised by. It is safe to say that, after watching that halftime show filled with admiration over the capabilities of two Hispanic women, I was as proud of my ethnicity and my identity as ever before.