Juan of Words

¡Que Chuntaro!

Is being a Chuntaro (Choon-tah-ro) bad? 

I hear the expression all the time   sometimes in a good way, others in a bad one.  ¡Hay no, que chuntaro!  ¡Ese chuntaro esta bien guey. ¡¡Orale, que chuntaro!!  Surprisingly, a lot of young people of Mexican descent like being characterized as chuntaros, or knowing the activities they are taking part in could be described with this adjective. 

Perhaps in the same way non-Mexicans enjoy the term ghetto(i.e. That’s so ghetto, ghettofabulous, etc.)

Frequenting Spanish-only clubs that play straight musica norteña and rancheras, as well as dressing up in boots, cowboy hats, and large belt buckles are among the activities that could deem these young people chuntaros, at least those are the defining attributes they factor into the equation.   

The online Urban Dictionary actually defines chuntaro as a Mexican slang word, or synonym, for naco: a.k.a. 1) an Indian or Indian-looking Mestizo or 2) an uncultured or lower class person.  Yet, for the most part, when we use the term chuntaro we don’t mean it in such a disparaging way.  More often than not it’s used as a satirical expression of something or someone we find amusing. 

Even when used as an insult the translation is not so literal. 

For example, if a Mexican tells you you’re dressed all chuntaro they usually mean you’re appearance is less than appropriate for the place/event you are at.  Perhaps you’re wearing a prom-looking gown to Sunday mass, you could be wearing unintentional holes in your jeans or shoes, or just maybe the shimmer on your shirt or blouse is so strong it reflects the sunlight onto a nearby wall. 

By the same token, if you are at a specific location with a Mexican and they describe it as chuntaro they simply mean it is not up to their particular standards.  It might be a kid’s birthday party where there are more adults drinking than there are children playing, perhaps a quinceañera where the second-floor dance floor is so small and crowded it feels like the whole party might come crashing down onto the first floor at any given moment, or it could just mean the Mexican you are with is a little snobby.

Herein lays the problem of using the word chuntaro.  Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what I consider appropriate and up to my standards could be hideous and very chuntaro in your opinion.  So I am sad to say the fights / debates about what is or isn’t chuntaro will continue. 

On the flip side there are a lot of “chuntaro, and proud of it” folks out there, myself included.      

What do you consider Chuntaro?

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