Meet Lupita López, a Mexican bullfighter who is making waves as a strong, motivated woman in a sport completely dominated by men. Coming from a long line of bullfighters - her great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother - Lupita is the only one to reach full matador status, or in her case, matadora status.
Not everyone at BUST is a fan of bullfighting (it can get pretty gruesome) but Lupida herself stands for lots of things we do believe in. She exudes strength, determination, focus, composure and most of all, passion. Even with her family and friends' concern for her safety, risks around family honor, and criticism for being a woman in a traditionally male sport, Lupita keeps on doing her thing. She says that from the start, bullfighting has made her feel as if her “life had acquired meaning.”
Luptia is from the Yucatan region of Mexico, though she's currently living in Laredo, Texas. In the United States it's illegal to kill bulls for sport, so Lupita participates in bloodless matches while she's on this side of the border.
While bullfighting is more culturally accepted in Mexico it's still not recognized as a traditional sport. That means the government doesn't supply matadors and matadoras with grants or any type of organized monetary compensation. In this sense, Lupita’s career as a matadora depends on private sponsors.
She spends much of her time building professional relationships and attending tientas, which are testing sessions in the homes of bull breeders. This is where Luptia chooses to use both her femininity and her thick skin to her advantage.
“As women we get treated better, but at the same time there is always someone who wants to take advantage of that situation, in all manners of speaking,” says Lupita. Often when a woman enters sports and other male-dominated professions, she's automatically seen as vulnerable. This is multiplied for Lupita considering the sheer amount of power and force required to conquer a bull.
Beyond bullfighting's history of notoriously hot debates between animal rights activists and aficionados, Lupita’s story is still a remarkable one about overcoming social standards. The structure of her society too-often promotes ideas about women who participate in so-called man’s pursuits as being immoral, shameful and distasteful. Lupita was able to address and shift the structure of society by fulfilling her passion, and that's something few people can say they’ve done. Brav-a Lupita, brav-a.
Thanks to New York Times Lens.
Photos via The New York Times and NPR.