How to Spot a Gringa

If you’re reading this right now, there’s probably at least a fifty percent chance you’re a gringo.  It’s a complex term, really, with a different meaning in every country; in fact many gringos don’t even know they are gringos.  Anyhow, in Chile, it’s basically anyone who is NOT Chilean… and sometimes if you look or act non-Chilean,  you’ll get stuck with the label, too.  ¿Cuál es la moraleja?  Be careful, it’s contagious.

So how do we protect ourselves?  And how do you know you’re not already a gringo?  Be informed.  This post aims to give you the proper information needed to spot a gringa—a gringo of the female persuasion.

Ok, we’ll start with the most obvious situation: you see someone who looks different.  Usually, it’s something obvious, like in her coloring or race.  She has blue eyes, is blonde, is black, is blindingly white, or looks another specific ethnicity. (I remember once I saw a woman in the airport that looked Irish… and therefore I knew she was American.)  So looks are usually your starting point.  How do you figure out if this mina is chilena or gringa?

One, if you’re casually walking through Santiago, there is probably a 75% chance that this person is gringa.  If you’re in La Universidad Católica, you’re screwed.  There is an equal probability of it being either.  That’s when you have to rely on the checklist.

¡Warning!  None of these factors can unequivocally and conclusively identify a gringa.  However, each of these factors is associated with a probability that represents a significant variation in the population**

Things to write off right off the bat…

  • Sports gear?  I don’t think most Chilean chicks would be caught in public dressed like that.  Moreover, if the gear is for a specific sport, it’s even more likely that it’s a gringa.  Soccer included.  Gringas play way more soccer than Chilenas.  A lot.  As in, we are number one in the world for soccer, and Chile is ranked forty-fifth.
  • Does she make you think: Woah, she’s tall.  It’s not a secret; Chileans (and many Latinoamericanos) are shorter than the average gringo.
  • Does she look confused? (Read: she is staring at some map in the metro while a sneaky Chilean is reaching into her purse…)
  • Do you recognize her brands?  American brands are usually a good hint, or rather, the presence of non-gringo brands will probably steer you away.  If she’s a student and has a backpack with the brands Head, Jansport, or Xtreme (or something else you don’t recognize), she’s probably Chilean.
  • Does she have thighs and/or junk in the trunk?  Probably not Chilean.  For some reason, Chileans tend to be petite and to have modest proportions.  It’s not the first time Chileans break Latino stereotypes…
  • Is she wearing bootcut or skinny?  Bootcut is a gringa, especially if they’re nice jeans.
  • There are just certain hairstyles that aren’t that common on Chilean gals (all of these rules are applied to the generic student population).  If her hair is all up in a messy bun, for example, that’s a gringa do.  Short hair, unless she’s clearly associated with a subculture that supports such a cut, probably indicates a gringa.
  • But the final and most telling check I make is: what do her shoes look like?  This has taken a long time to think about.  I remember always getting a definitive answer when I looked at her shoes, but it was hard to specify.  I mean, the most obvious footwear that just doesn’t make sense for a Chilean to be wearing is the flip-flop.  They’re hideous, let’s face it.  But gringas, especially some of the types that end up at la Católica, wear them everywhere.  Chileans are more likely to wear some ridiculous-looking thong sandal-type thing that crawls half-way up their calves than flip-flops.  “Regular,” athletic sneakers are also a no-go.  As are Uggs.  They’re gross.  Get over them.

That’s basically it.  Of course, any of these must be reconsidered if she’s also making out on the metro while donning a fanny pack, but hey, I do what I can.  Again, friends: knowledge is power.  Use it responsibly.

**This is a lie.  Not actually statistically or scientifically proven.  Kosher/Parve.


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