Informant: Some Mexican families believe that when you are pregnant the more salsa you have the hairier the baby is gonna come out. I didn’t like salsa a lot, and I was pregnant at the same time as my cousin and she loved salsa, she would chug it. So our family would joke that her baby was going to come out with a full head of hair and mine was going to be bald.
Interviewer: Was it true?
Informant: Yeah, all my cousins’ kids had a lot of hair, even on their back- they looked a little monkeyish haha. Mine had hair but it was normal hair, no back hair though. Plus, it all falls off so does it really matter at the end of the day? … Do you want your child to be born with hair? If you did, then eat salsa! I also think about pregnancy cravings and trying to make something out of it. It reminds me of the saying that spicy food puts hair on your chest, but in this case it is a baby.
The informant is my mother, a Mexican woman who is first-generation and the oldest of 3, who was born and raised in San Ysidro,CA a border town just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Influenced by memories and conversations with her great great grandmother, many of her practices, customs, and beliefs were passed down from her maternal side of Mexican customs. Fluent in both English and Spanish, the informant has always felt conflicted about her culture as she wanted to fit in with American customs but wanted to preserve her Mexican heritage and traditions. The informant had her first child when she was 18, and worked her way as a single mother with two kids to attain her Master’s Degree and is now the Executive Vice President at a non-profit health clinic that serves the community she was raised in.
It is often a running joke in our family that the informant is the only one who could not handle her spice, and when this is brought up my family jokes that she is the reason all of her children came out to be bald. Wanting to learn more about this joke and its superstitious origins I asked her about it in the interview that we had.
I think this superstition is impacted by the dietary qualities of Mexican food as well as pregnancy cravings that many expecting mothers have. Usually, the spicier food or salsa you eat the tougher you are viewed to be, and this thought could have transpired to create the origins of this folklore. I also think it has to deal with the masculin stigma revolving around what “toughness” constitutes, and usually hair is a more masculine trait so the tougher the baby the tougher/more masculine the baby.