“I was born in Peru, where the term ‘cholita’ is used in a derogatory way,” says Miami-based photographer Celia D. Luna, “mostly to insult Andean people because of the way they talk or the way they dress.” Being from the Andes herself, Luna has been on a mission to embrace her birthplace and its culture. When she learned the cholitas of Bolivia were proudly wearing traditional clothes and doing so while participating in extreme sports like skateboarding, she knew she had to meet and photograph them.
It was a challenging series to take on. She began reaching out to the women six months before she traveled to Bolivia, but only a few responded. It was enough to take the leap, and once she arrived there, Luna was able to photograph the wrestling and hiking cholitas and have a full-day session with the cholita skaters.
“There were so many great moments, but getting to know each cholita and sharing that experience with my mom was one of my highlights.”
Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.