The Power of Words
Silvana Paternostro describes the difficult life of women in Cuba. For an audience of mostly women, her emotional tone and simplistic style lets the reader get a feel of what these poor young women are going through in the October 2002 issue of Glamour Magazine.
Paternostro explains the hardships that these women endure though out their lives. The only way to make a descent living in the country is to become a cabaret dancer or prostitution. She writes of their only two options with such emotion. The reader can truly feel their struggle. When the reader sees their pay (fifteen dollars) a month, it showers them with disbelief. One truly cannot fathom this idea. She speaks of the emotional break downs and discouragement. Directors that pinch their fat, make them feel un-pretty and lower their self esteem as well as shatter their dreams when their told they are not good enough. The authors detailed description
Paternostros’ emotional tone makes well with women readers. It is something that women can relate to more readily. Through out the article, the author throws out descriptive terms that play emotionally on women.
For example, Paternostro speaks about cabaret dancers being the only means of making money. Unless of course, they would rather sell their bodies. When she says “money making option,” this means fifteen American dollars a month. To truly think that this is what can be spent in seconds here and only lasts a month there- is astonishing. It really makes the reader realize how blessed they are. Although things can be tough, it can always be worse. She also makes the reader realize other things that are taken for granted. For example, here in America, people change careers and start their lives over at the age of fifty. This is clearly not an option in Cuba. Through the use of descriptive sentences the author gives a detailed description of the qualifications to become a dancer.
Paternostro states “to qualify as a dancer, girls must be younger than twenty one and at least 5’4”, to be a dancing model, she must be at least 5’8”. They must posses grace, beauty and rhythm musically.”
Clearly this is a detailed description of the attributes dancers must possess. It also tells of the young age girls must be to qualify. At such a young age, the dreams and hopes of these girls can be shattered in the blink of the eye. Cuban girls’ dreams are over, while an Americans’ is just beginning. If the reader looks deeply, this line possess emotional as well.
Other details of many readers take for granted are things the author describes as “luxuries others could only dream of- such as cell phones, trendy clothes and other unthinkable luxuries.” The author uses descriptive words to describe what many of these girls will only dream of in their life.
Paternostros’ simplistic style is not complex. The article does not contain complex words. There are no difficult meanings. The author is straight to the point using short sentence structure.
In addition to her simplistic structure, the author showers the article with emotional tone. These two things go well together. Paternostro clearly describes the emotions of the dancers. Women can easily relate to this. They can relate to the anxiety of standing before an authorative and not feeling “good enough.” She states “Maria nervously stands before the schools artistic directorthis is her one chance to shine.” One can feel truly feel for Maria. The feeling that “this is it, it is now or never and I’ve only got one shot.” The yearning to be successful is an emotion anyone can relate to.
It is in this emotion where the line stating “where the peso is worthless, it is not stardom they seek- its survival” truly comes into play. It is in this line that shows style and tone together as one. This simple statement is straight to the point yet sheds emotion at the same time. When speaking of young adolescents, barely reaching womanhood “struggling to survive” one can truly feel its emotional impact.
To add on to the emotional impact, women can sympathize with the authors’ choice of words; they feel the embarrassment and anxiety when she describes the physical examination of the dancers. Paternostro states “scrutinizing her, they pinch her body, looking for fat. They advice her to loose a few pounds, tone her thighs and come back in two weeks for another audition.”
Although these dancers are put down, the author describes the dedication and hunger to succeed in this choice of career. She speaks of one girl who “spent all night waiting for a bus to take her home, even after being mugged the night before.”
Clearly after such a catastrophe, one would not put themselves back in the same situation. For these girls, the dedication and determination to succeed was stronger then being attacked. Most women wouldn’t think twice about going back to that situation. These young girls are hungry, and unless their six feet in the ground, no one person will take their dream away.
There are emotions through this article that only women can relate to such as-agonizing over weight, hair, an unwanted mole, freckle or pimple. The mental torture these young girls feel. The pain of rejection because how they looked physically was not good enough. The things women in this country complain about are literally things women in Cuba can die over. When the next best thing to making money is prostitution, a huge reality check comes in to play.
After making it through the grueling hours of auditions and examinations, few are lucky to be accepted into the school. Once they are, their costumes and make-up are a beauty and wonder to look at. The author compares the girls to “walking light fixtures.” The imagery of this statement paints a clear picture for the avid reader.
Sylvia Paternostros’ use of simple sentence structure, descriptive sentences and emotional tone truly help the (mostly women) readers realize how lucky they are. As well as how much they take for granted for the lifestyle they live. All of these tones, styles and characteristics truly help the audience to relate and feel the struggle and pain of these girls. Mission accomplished!