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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 23, 2006

Defining a tita past her actions

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

It might be easier to define a tita by what she doesn't do than by what she does.

There are so many variations on titaness, so many vibrant colors in the tita rainbow, it's hard to point to external things like jean shorts, homemade tattoos or swimsuit-as-underwear as hallmarks of identification. Not every tita throws rocks at cars. Not every tita settles a bet with arm wrestling. Some even are known to shed a tear, write poetry or create delicate Jell-O molds for parties. Not many, but some.

But there are definite things a true tita would not do. A true tita wouldn't walk away from injustice, wouldn't sit idly while an underdog was getting hurt and wouldn't break her promise to a friend. That's the tita code.

Which is what made the reality-show styling of a Mainland tita so disturbing. It's one thing to put her in makeup and a dress. It's quite another to have her break the tita creed.

The show on MTV is called "Made" and the premise is that "experts" or life coaches take on the cases of high school students stuck in some variety of geekness or freakness with the goal of making them cool or at least less weird for a one-time event, like prom or cheerleader tryouts or student government elections.

In one particular episode, the subject was a girl named Samantha, unaffectionately known as "Sam the Man" by schoolmates because of her lack of feminine charms. Samantha said she wanted to be "made" into a "girlie-girl" in time for prom. The process involved pairing her with a bleach-blond tanning-salon addict with perfect nails and glossy lips. In no time, Samantha lost her tita-esque knee-length elastic waist basketball shorts. She started getting up for school an hour and a half earlier to do her hair and makeup. She practiced how to talk to boys without punching them in the arm. An etiquette coach taught her which fork to use and to dab at the corners of her mouth with a napkin rather than wipe her lips on her sleeve. She was externally transformed.

But then, they went too far. Tita Samantha had already accepted a prom invitation from a not-cool, not-cute but sweet boy. But the guy she really wanted to be with on prom night was starting to pay attention to her. So she dumped sweet geek and asked out hot dude, lying to them both in the process.

And all the girlie-girls cheered and told her she did the right thing.


If being a girlie-girl means turning into a self-centered, socially irresponsible mean queen, then this world needs more titas.

A true tita might take out a rival but she wouldn't bad-style a friend. She would put on her prom gown over her basketball shorts, go to prom with her friends and laugh at all the girlie-girls trying so hard to accomplish so little.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.