Socio-economic challenges, a disability, and the death of a loved one will not deter two sisters from living a normal life. “Normal” is a relative term, especially when speaking to Viviana and Vanessa Macias. The pair will model in the upcoming El Centro Back to School Weekend’s fashion show, brought to you by the Downtown Management District (DMD) and the Central Business Association (CBA).
The event, sponsored by Krystal Jeans and Starr Western wear will be three days of activities to include a Segundo Barrio Backpack Drive on Friday, August 5th, a Fashion Show, Saturday August 6th, and a Family Fun Day, on Sunday August 7th. Held on Fourth and El Paso Street, the weekend of programming will include music and food trucks all three days. The Macias sisters are among a group of models set to participate in the fashion show.
Vanessa, 12, a student at Henderson middle school in South Central, El Paso is more than just a model, her passion for the game of chess has taken her out of state for national championships. “I didn’t know why I was so interested in chess, but I realized after joining the school team that I had a big family – there are 36 of us on the team,” said Viviana.
Despite the team having earned the right to compete at the state and national levels, due to lack of funds, there was no guarantee the team would be able to show up. With no funds available through the school budget, it was up to the team and the community to raise the money, “We had to raise $33,000 to go all the way to nationals,” said Viviana.
They did. The team raised enough to travel to state competitions in Brownsville, Texas, then to Indianapolis, IN. The team won several first places at both state and national levels. “It was hard seeing the other players there who might have been better off than us with their parents there too. For most of us, we couldn’t afford to take our family,” said Viviana.
“I model because I love challenges and I just love to represent El Paso,” said Viviana.
Big sister, Vanessa Macias, 18, is no stranger to challenges either. The equally articulate sibling shared her personal challenges with us, “I had a stroke, and now I’m disabled but I don’t like to think of it as a disability but just another challenge.”
“Because of a genetic mutation, I got a clot in a blood vessel in my brain. We don’t know what triggered it but ever since I had my stroke I’ve had a lot of insecurities. Then one day, it clicked, I just shouldn’t care what people think,” she said.
Vanessa just graduated from Silva Magnet High School (a health-focused school) and plans to attend the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and major in Bio-Medical Concentration so that one day she can be a Pediatrician. “I really want to contribute and come back to the community and give back to the people, because there were so many medical professionals that helped me while recovering from my stroke,” she said.
The fashion show in the El Centro District is not just going to show great clothing available in the shops by the border but the quality of citizens we have in our community. “The world has changed so much, that we shouldn’t think of beauty as one generic thing. I want to feel beautiful,” said Vanessa.
In addition to economic and medical challenges, the family has had to endure the passing of their patriarch and father, two years ago. Vanessa wanted to share, on behalf of both sisters, “Chess and modeling has helped us cope and we want to follow his example and never quit.”
I think he would be proud.