10 Reasons Why Selena Is Still An Icon
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Today marks 25 years since the tragic and untimely death of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, better known as Selena — but fans still remember her as “The Queen of Tejano,” a beloved artist who left behind an exceptionally enduring legacy. Whether it was her warm personality or her spellbinding performances, Selena had a natural charm that people adored. I’ve always wondered what the music industry would have been like had she lived since she was on the cusp of breaking into the English market, but it’s safe to assume that she would have without a doubt been sensational. Here are ten reasons why her influence has only gotten stronger with time.
1. She had the full superstar package:
If you’ve ever watched Selena perform, you know that she was a “triple threat” powerhouse. First of all, she was stunning, but without any formal training, she had phenomenal vocals, literally glided on stage, and fully delivered her songs with every ounce of her being. She had this innate, extraordinary IT-factor that everyone looks for in an artist, which only made her even more appealing.
2. Her music had an eclectic sound
How can we ever forget Selena’s iconic disco medley? When I first saw that performance, all I could think was “Damm! This girl has got some serious soul!” Selena cited other music icons like “The Queen of Disco” Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston as some of her influences and paid homage to their styles by incorporating them into her own. By fusing mainstream R&B and pop into her songs, she created a unique sound that separated Selena y Los Dinos from other Tejano music groups. This particular factor is probably one of the main reasons why their music has remained hip, and fresh for nearly three decades.
3. Her influence has extended to people across cultures, races, and generations.
Not only did Selena appeal to the Latinx community as “The Queen of Tejano,” a genre of music that she brought to the mainstream market, but her bicultural identity allowed her to relate to people from various demographics. Both Beyonce and sister Solange have expressed their own admiration for Selena, and Solange even covered Selena’s “I Could Fall in Love” during her 2012 tour. Other celebrities like Demi Lovato, Becky G, and Selena Gomez (who was named after her) all have mentioned how Selena made a huge impact on their lives and careers.
Personally speaking, I’m not Latina, nor do I speak Spanish, but thanks to the 1997 biopic, Selena was introduced to a new generation of devoted fans. I wasn’t even alive while she was, which I think is just another testament to how strong her legacy truly is. The first time I saw the film I was two, and by the time I was five, my mom told me that I was dancing along and mouthing the words to one of her greatest hits, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”
4. She had killer style
When we think of Selena’s wardrobe, we think of bedazzled bustiers, mesh bodysuits, and of course, the iconic purple jumpsuit. But what is really impressive is that all of her stage outfits were self-designed, because, was there anything she couldn’t do? She was notorious for donning a high waisted pant, or skirt, along with a bra, remastered with her own personal flair. Even offstage, she had an eccentric collection of clothes that led to the creation of her designer boutique.
5. She was a philanthropist
Selena made herself accessible to her community, visiting local schools and encouraging kids about the importance of getting their education and staying away from drugs. She was involved with the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, and filmed a commercial for the Houston Area Women’s Center to fight domestic violence. In honor of her activism, on her last birthday in 1994, Selena received the key to the city of Houston, TX
6. She was fierce, sexy, and pure all at the same time
While her outfits were flashy yet risqué, they always seemed to be worn modestly and with class. She made sure to tastefully express herself through her clothes and her dance moves, giving her that subtle sex appeal. And her figure didn’t reflect the “Eurocentric” standard of beauty that most people are exposed to. She was a proud Latina and showed off what she had; curves, thick thighs, big lips, and a booty that she wholeheartedly embraced.
7. She persevered despite any obstacles
Selena was the perfect example of a feminist role model and gave other Latinas someone to idolize. Her success was unprecedented, dominating the music charts while simultaneously combating sexism in a predominantly male music genre. For ten consecutive years, she claimed Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards, redefining what it meant to be a Latin female artist. Her posthumous Dreaming of You album has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, earning her Billboards №1 spot for the best-selling Latin artist of all time.
8. She never forgot where she came from
In the early stages of her career, she and her family played at weddings, carnivals, and in small Texas towns to earn money after they had gone bankrupt. She worked hard, was down-to-earth and remained humble despite her sweeping fame, never putting up a prima donna wall between herself and her fans. She had the ability to connect with people, and made her fans feel like she was one of them.
9. She had a beautiful personality
Aside from all of her other incredible qualities, one that really touched everyone was her huge heart. Countless people have spoken so highly of how beautiful of a person she was; gracious, personable, genuine, compassionate, (to name a few). Jose Behar, former president of EMI Latin who signed Selena, describes how she carried herself so tremendously. “She had such a unique style, a beautiful look and such a fresh optimistic outlook about everything. It was just very combustible and it made her into the phenomenon she turned out to be.” (Billboard Newspaper, 2005).
10. She was gone way too soon
It’s heartbreaking to think that she was only 23 when she passed away. Her death shocked and devastated her fans as many of them recall an outpouring of profound grief. While she was huge in the Latinx community, she had so much untapped potential and was on her way to achieving international stardom. Ultimately, after 25 years, she remains an inspiration and her eternal spirit is what keeps her alive in the hearts of millions. We will continue to remember her not only as an artist, but as a trailblazer and an icon, whose impact will last forever.