Las Cholas de Bolivia: The Uphill Battle Against Racism, Sexism and Commodification in Contemporary Bolivia

  • Courtney McDonough University of Victoria
Keywords: Bolivia, chola, Andean, Indigenous, pollera, commodification, cholita wrestling


Cholas, Indigenous Bolivian marketplace women recognized for their distinct traditional dress, have seen the commodification of their image both domestically and internationally. Their long colourful skirts, polleras, have been used by others as a way to censor, label, stereotype and exploit their position in a hierarchical society. Foreigners travel thousands of miles to consume what they hope to be an authentic representation of the chola identity. The creation of cholita wrestling has allowed some upward mobility for a small number of individual chola women, yet it perpetuates the foreign consumption of the Indigenous female body. Throughout their history of marginalization, these women have fought for recognition and equality within Bolivia. This essay will examine how the definition of what it means to be chola in Bolivia is ever-changing as they face one hurdle after another.
Research Articles