These Women Rock Indigenous Clothes to Reclaim Their History
Bolivia’s cholitas, with their bowler hats and layered skirts, were once targets of discrimination. Now this fashion is a source of pride.
Walking the streets of Sucre, Bolivia, over a decade ago, photographer Delphine Blast was struck by the Aymara women and how they dressed in layered skirts and shawls, with a bowler hat perched atop their long black braids. The women were both tough—years of hard work etched in their faces, weathered by the harsh altiplano climate—and delicate. She remembers being impressed by their strength, especially after she learned of the social and racial discrimination they had long endured.
This was before the 2005 election of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Amerindian president, under whose leadership the majority indigenous population saw greater recognition and autonomy. When Blast returned recently to La Paz, she noticed a shift, especially among the younger generation. These women,