Between the adventures they had, the clothing they wore, and their general badassery, many of us know our mothers are cooler than us. Suspecting that others enjoyed looking at throwback pictures of their moms as much as we did, we put out a call on social media asking readers to send us their snaps and tell us why their mothers are incomparable. What we received was a series of touching stories of Latinas starting over, juggling families and businesses, and taking moments to make their children feel special.
In honor of Mother’s Day, check out 31 photos of our and our readers’ moms. And prepare to swoon at the vintage fashion goodness.
Editor’s Note: We have lightly edited the following responses for clarity and concision.
"I'm lucky that she's my oldest best friend."
Location: New York
Well, first of all, check out her Afro! Really, could anything be cooler? My hair wishes it could get on her level. Also, my mom was (and remains) so passionate about civil rights and equality — for Puerto Ricans, for Black people. I’m really proud that she passed that fire down to me. Nothing could ever stop Mami’s drive. I’ve always been a bit nerdy and awkward, but her self-confidence shines through every photo. She just has an aura about her that shines like gold, you know? It radiates from the inside out. And that megawatt smile really doesn’t hurt. She’s about 19 or 20 years old in the picture.
My mom and I are funniest when we’re together. She’s a single mom, so growing up most days it was usually just the two of us, and now it’s like we have our secret language and shorthand for everything. We can crack each other up with just an eyebrow quirk or a hand gesture. We will bring back catch phrases from years ago and incorporate them like they just happened yesterday. When we really get going on a story, we constantly end up talking over each other (I’m usually going a mile a minute, she’s more purposeful with her words). It’s been like that since I was a little girl. She just… gets me. Maybe it’s a little cliché to say on Mother’s Day, but I’m lucky that she’s my oldest best friend. -Carmen Phillips
"She's still sassy today, to be honest."
Year: Late 1970s, early 1980s
Her name is Carmen Luisa Burgos. She’s being sassy and carefree, and her outfit is on point. She’s still sassy today, to be honest.
One of my favorite memories is when I was studying abroad in Paris and she came by for a visit. We spent the entire time she visited together, except for one time when I had to take a final exam, so I asked her to wait for me in a close-by park. When I came back from the test to meet her, she had a new hairdo. Turns out, she walked into a salon and even though she didn’t speak any French, she managed to explain to the lady with hand gestures that she wanted a haircut and exactly what kind of haircut she wanted. I’m just amazed because my mom had never gone anywhere where she didn’t speak the language except when she initially moved to the US as a kid, and people can be mean. But she did it and she was so proud. The haircut looked great! Later that day, while getting us train tickets, I turned around to where she was waiting for me to find some guy trying to flirt with her while she laughed. Told you she was sassy. -Amanda Alcantara
"My mom was the mysterious cool girl at all the parties."
Location: San Marcos, Texas
This picture was taken in San Marcos, Texas 1982 on their graduation night. My mom is 18. Her name is Angie. My mom moved to Texas her senior year of high school, and she was not impressed (lol). She grew up in Denver, Colorado. Her bestie was her cousin, Roy, who’s in the picture with her. He drove his Mercedes-Benz into a ditch this very night and lived to tell all about it.
In 2016, before Roy passed away, he told me my mom was the mysterious girl at all the parties they went to together. -Tori Anguiano
"Mi madre was wayyy cooler than me!"
Location: Either during her honeymoon in Brazil or somewhere in Puerto Rico
Year: Maybe 1982
Mi madre was wayyy cooler than me! She looks romantic, powerful, sweet, fearless and like she’s living her best life in some beautiful seaside destination.
I was super nervous to go to kindergarten, because I was worried that no one would want to be my friend. My mom wrote a story for me in English called Little Bunny Bin-Bin about a bunny who was afraid to go to school, because he thought no one wanted to be his friend, but then he went to school, and made his first friend. It was just written in pencil on pages she took out of a notebook and stapled together. She even drew pictures for the whole story. She would read it to me before bed every night and to my surprise, the story came true in real life and I did make friends at school. Years later, I found the storybook and realized that when my mom wrote it she was still learning English and it had some grammar and spelling mistakes. This made me appreciate it even more. Not only was she creative but she was passionate and courageous in wanting us both to learn the language and be inspired. Signs of a true supermom, gracias mami te adoro! -Xenia Rubinos
"She always made sure she took care of herself and the ones she loved."
Location: Bronx, New York
Here is a pic of my beautiful mom, Ella. Mom was 19 years old. She was in her first apartment in The Bronx, NY. My mom had two kids by this time, and she always made sure she took care of herself and the ones she loved. I can barely get our of bed in the morning. I give her so much kudos.
I remember when I was in the hospital, and I was bored out of my mind. She bought chess and checkers from the discount store so we could play. I thought that was so sweet and creative considering my circumstance. -Annez Rodriguez
"She finally gave me that jacket after begging for it for 20 years."
Location: Valencia, Spain
My mom was way cooler than I am in this picture, because she was extremely fashion forward (she finally gave me that jacket after begging for it for 20 years), confident in her own skin, and always turned negative situations into positive ones. She’s my hero. I’ve always strived to be like my mom, but there is no comparing.
One of my most heart-warming moments with my mom was the year ’97 when we went to vacation in Dominican Republic, the day we found out Princess Diana passed away. I felt like we hugged for hours just crying, because we both admired her very much. She identified with Diana so much that I became obsessed with knowing everything Princess Diana ever did, thus why the moment was so sad, but it was a bonding moment between us both. -Nathaly Hernandez-Rosario
"My mom at my age was a rock star."
Location: El Paso, Texas
This photo is one of the most epic ones I have of my mom. She had just gotten out of work in El Paso and asked her love interest to take her on a cruise in his motorcycle because she loves riding bikes. You can see her rocking jewelry and her high heels while chilling with her date.
My mom at my age was a rock star, she waved with her curly hair, wore green leather jackets, and was basically a style icon. She fortunately saved a lot of her clothes and accessories, which I now wear. I live in New York were everyone is mad trendy and the majority of my most iconic fits are made up of my mom’s old clothes. -Itzel Alejandra Martinez
"When people compliment an outfit of mine, 9 out of 10 times she picked it out."
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Year: Approximately 1987
My mom has always had great style. In this picture, my mom exudes a confidence and sophistication in not only her perfectly coordinated outfit, but her lipstick and sky high hair. It shows she used fashion as expression always and wasn’t afraid to experiment. She grew up a young Latina in Chicago, so she had plenty of street smarts but always looked like a lady. My mom was 28 in this picture, and it was taken in my parent’s first house in Chicago, Illinois.
I think it’s funny that she still dresses me! My mom is my biggest supporter and even though she lives in Texas and I live in NYC, she’s always sending me care packages filled with very stylish clothes. When people compliment an outfit of mine, 9 out of 10 times she picked it out. Kinda embarrassing for me but she knows style. -Annette Mia Flores
"I just love how confident and fierce she looks with that pose."
Location: Austin, Texas
Year: Probably 1994
She’s a million times more stylish in this picture than I will ever be, but I just love how confident and fierce she looks with that pose, definitely more photogenic than I am. At the age of 22, when this picture was taken, she had already moved to a new country, bought a house, and become a mom to me! And I think that’s pretty cool, all while serving looks in her mom jeans.
Some examples that illustrate the caring woman that my mom is would be the countless times she took others into our home, fostered dogs and even pigs, or that she carries Christmas presents in her car every year just in case she needs to give anyone one, and her trips to Mexico to give back to her family, including clothes and supplies for ALL my cousins. -Carmen Rangel
"She is always telling me to loosen up and stop acting like a monja."
Location: Redwood Shores, California
My mom moved to the States from Mexico when she was 14, and it didn’t take her very long to figure out what was cool. She loves clothes and changing up her look. The ’70s hair, sunglasses, and romper are all proof that she’s way more fashionable than I’ll ever be.
One time on Thanksgiving, my mom asked me what I was going to wear. I told her I didn’t know (I’m not really a planner when it comes to clothes). She responded, “Ju chould wear someseeng sexy.” I was so grossed out. I told her, “Mom, it’s Thanksgiving not a bachelorette party.” But, she wasn’t going to give up. “Dat doesn’t mean ju haf to dress all cobered up like a menonita.” And I was like, “Okay, I will try to not dress like a mennonite.” That conversation pretty much sums up our relationship. She is always telling me to loosen up and stop acting like a monja.
"She wasn't a huge spender, and she DIYed her looks."
Location: Ciudad Victoria, Tampaulipas, Mexico
Year: Late ’60s or early ’70s
I mean that hair! I am pretty sure she was on her way to some baile, or could have honestly been her work photo, who knows? From what I can tell, she has always been on trend – from hair, makeup, clothes, accessories, everything! She wasn’t a huge spender, and she DIYed her looks and always looked (and still does) super polished.
She’s my looks hero, for obvious reasons. She makes sure to tell me how I need to fix my hair, or dress up more and every time she visits, she tells me, ‘como te vas a ir asi de fachosa a la oficina!’ -Neylu Longoria
"It's inspiring to see how confident she looks."
Location: Miami, Florida
At this point in her life, my mom had arrived with a toddler (my brother) into the United States after a long, perilous journey from Nicaragua. And honestly, I could never match her bravery.
While she currently loves herself an all-white ensemble, I love this photo because it allows me to see a different side to her. Because I haven’t had the opportunity to see many photos of her in her youth, I am glad this exists, because it’s inspiring to see how confident she looks.
My favorite memories of my mom are of all the times we went mall hopping during my teenage years. It was a special thing that we did together. -Yara Simón
"She's braver than I was at 16."
Location: Houston, Texas
My mom was 16 years old. She was out, going to a house party with her cousins and future brother-in-law in Houston, Texas. She’s braver than I was at 16. I could never fathom the thought of choosing to cross the border to earn an income for her family back in Mexico. And her sense of style was better than my T-shirt and joggers wardrobe.
She always believed I can do anything. She never shamed for being a single mother; she empowered me. -Brenda Corro
"She's so casually calm and collected in her charra outfit riding her horse."
Location: Atotonilco el Bajo, Jalisco, Mexico
My mom forgets she’s such a badass having grown up on a ranch in a little town in Jalisco, Mexico. She’s so casually calm and collected in her charra outfit riding her horse, looking effortlessly beautiful.
I have so many great memories with my mom, but one of the best was when I visited home recently, we spent all day going through old pictures, reminiscing on the wonderful childhood she gave me and my brother, and we busted out my quinceañera items and took turns wearing the crown while we did face masks. -Brenda Martinez
"I couldn't imagine being so calm, cool, and collected in a picture before leaving everything for the unknown."
Location: Caraz, Peru
My mom was 21 years old. I couldn’t imagine being so calm, cool, and collected in a picture before leaving everything for the unknown. Plus, my mom had some serious scarf game. Soon after this picture was taken, my mom left Peru and made her way to the US in the ’80s.
One of my favorite memories of my mother will always be when she would read a version of The Three Little Pigs to me. I forgot why we had the book at home – I think it was a gift or something. Anyways, I was 23 and at home recovering from a serious car accident, which landed me in the hospital for a few months. My mom would read the same story to me every night while I was home. I was probably high from all the pain killers, but the story was hilarious because she would make a different voice for each character. I still have the book in my room at my parents’ house. Can’t wait to read it to my kids one day. -Janice Llamoca
"She has the best curly hair, which I am very jealous of."
Year: Late 1980s
My mom was 25 in that photo. My mom came to the US to study dance. To get to a whole other country to learn more about something you love is very badass. Plus, she has the best curly hair, which I am very jealous of.
My funniest memory is one time I texted my mom asking if she had time to talk on the phone. I don’t hear a word from her for three days, and suddenly get a picture of her at a Gente de Zona concert. -Antonia Cereijido
"She was a luchona helping support a family of six."
Location: Indio, California
My mother, Alicia, was dope at my age. Here she is as a campesina working the fields of the Coachella Valley, but still looking fierce AF with lipstick and cute earrings. She was 31 and had just had me, the youngest of 4. She was a luchona helping support a family of six while working the grape fields, or as they called it “La Uva,” all while still looking cute.
My best memory of her is backpacking through San Luis Potosi and staying in youth hostels. She felt like one of the youngsters. That day, we took a three-hour bus ride to see a waterfall called El Ojo de Dios and to see her swimming under the water, so fearless and excited was my best moment with her. -Claudia Becerra
"She has always been so progressive about her ideas."
My mom must have been about 31 in this picture, and we are not sure if this was Monterrey or Mexico City, but def Mexico. There are so many reasons my mom is cooler than me. She has always been so progressive about her ideas, for her time and social situation. She’s extremely smart, socialist. She raised me to be independent and always search for my true purpose. She always worked, she ran my father’s business and had her own business – she used to sell tamales along with two other ladies, the business was called Tamalito – and she was also a great mom! -Katro Rodriguez
"There's no way I could rock that hat on my big melon head."
Location: Torreon, Mexico, near the Nazas River
My mom is cooler because there’s no way I could rock that hat on my big melon head. She has always been a pro at accessorizing, but this hat is beyond epic. When I saw Pharrell was wearing one like it a few years ago, I immediately remembered this photo of my mom.
I think my favorite memory of my mom is when she would make flour tortillas for my siblings and I. I loved the huge mess we would make, rolling the dough and spreading the tortillas all over the kitchen table. The best part was after when she would take the leftover dough and make miniature pan dulce shapes for our Barbies. -Alicia Cardoza
"She just has so much more swag than me in general."
I mean, look at that hair and outfit! It’s a struggle for me to even brush my hair most days, especially as a teen. Yet, here’s my mom, only 18 and very pregnant, slaying in her yellow dress, Aqua Net sprayed hair, make up done. She just has so much more swag than me in general.
When I was little, my favorite song was “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and I would sing it with my mom. She started calling me her “Twinkle Star of the Sea.” Then, it shortened into just “Twinkle Star.” Then, as time went on and I grew older, the nickname transformed to “Twinkie,” and yes, she still refers to me as this nickname til this day. It was so embarrassing in middle school and high school when a crush would call our house phone or she would drop me off at school. Hilarious now, though! -Kat Villalba Alvarez
"She looks like an important person."
Year: 1987 or 1988
My mom is cooler than me because she looks stunning and she’s laughing. Also, the fact that she is coming out of a limo – look at the chauffeur with white gloves. She looks like an important person. -Montserrat Rosas Camacho
"Fun has always been her MO."
Location: Los Angeles
Year: Approximately 1977
This is Anais Balbona (now Anais Chavez), Cuban immigrant. My grandma made this whole costume for this Spanish beauty contest. She won OBVIOUSLY! My mom was about 19. My mom’s cooler than me in this photo because despite being made fun of at school for her “weird” Cuban lunches, in this photo she is unabashedly Latina and showing that kind of pride is way cooler than I ever was as a teenager.
"My mom is just cool."
Location: Miami, Florida
Well, my mom is just cool. I keep trying to catch up but you know, she keeps setting the bar higher each time in all areas. As far as fashion goes, my mom has been rocking confidence and style since before I was born. My grandmother (former beauty queen) was a big piece in this as she instilled an infamous saying in our family: “El Glamour Ante Todo!” This is a religious saying amongst my mom and aunts (and now my sisters and me) when we all leave the house and/ or compliment each other on any stylish looks. It’s a big part of why I like to experiment with fashion myself and see what makes me feel glam.
This picture is just one representation of my mom’s natural flair for playing around with trends and adding her touch to it all. This was the first time she also got her first edgy hairdo after having worn long locks all her life. (I smile looking at this picture knowing her and how she is sporting her “feeling on top of the world” face here that she carries when she’s excited for something ?)
Anyone that knows my mom well knows she has a heart of gold. She’s a prankster, a silly teenager at heart, and one of the hardest working/ inspiring women I know.
I could tell many stories, but I think one of my favorite things about my mom is how hilarious she is when she’s in an awkward situation or something takes her by surprise. As irony would have it, my mom (a public speaker, aka master of game faces) has yet to master the art of not laughing when someone does something inappropriate or out of place somewhere. It’s one of those things that you really need to be there to get it but to see her slow body reaction go from a slight chuckle, to can’t breathe, to someone hold me, to inevitable burst of laughter – that basically wraps all her daughters in embarrassment after she infects us with this unstoppable achy laughter over something as simple hearing someone snore at church – the list goes on. Love you mom. -Raqueli Contreras
"She can make friends with just about anyone."
Location: Southern California
Year: Spring 1981
My mom is pictured with her cousin’s Navy buddy. She is cooler than me in this pic because she has always been rebellious, fashion forward, and a social butterfly. She can make friends with just about anyone. She was definitely a rebel and would change her outfit and make up after leaving the house before arriving at school.
She also told me she had been cutting her own hair since 7th grade and cut it into a feathered shag during this period. And she would mix two different lipstick colors as one color so no one would be able to copy her. She mixed her eyeshadows and blushes to create personal shades as well.
After my parents divorced, my mom rented a duplex right next door to my Nana (her mom). I spent about equal time with them both growing up. The fact that my mom rented a place right next door to my Nana is probably the greatest thing she had ever done for my brother and I. Also she loved practical jokes, such as leaving plastic bugs in our bed. -Lu Baez
"She is defiantly roasting her law professors at Syracuse."
Location: Buffalo, New York
This photo depicts my Bronx-born and -raised first-gen New Yorican mama, Vivian. She is defiantly roasting her law professors at Syracuse, which was the third institution she singlehandedly put herself through after marrying at 19 to escape an old world Catholic household. This woman somehow traveled the world, and meanwhile managed to conquer first secretarial school, then undergrad at Cornell University, and finally law school. Despite her having raised me to be similarly brave, I don’t know that I could have forged a career for myself the way my mother did. When I think about the work it took to get her celebrating on stage in that dress, en route to becoming a JD, I am simply in awe. -Kiah
"She is always done up and ready for anything."
Location: Dallas, Texas
Do you see that pose? She is always done up and ready for anything. There are way too many funny and heart-warming memories. But the most heart-warming thing she has ever done is been selfless and dedicating everything to my sisters and I. -Rufy Garcia
"Her whole existence is heartwarming."
Location: Dominican Republic
Year: 1992 or 1993
Double fisting dat Presidente and stylizing her BF/marido T-shirt with a belt? Yes, momma. She was about 30 in a company social club, where they were having a family field day, so the whole crew was turning up. Her whole existence is heartwarming, but one of my funniest memories is of her referring to one of my fav ’90s singers, Alanis Morissette, as Monserrat. “Pam, cada vez que oigo a Monserrat, me acuerdo de ti.” She still say it, and I still crack up. -Pamela Reynoso
"My mom's print game back in the day puts my mostly neutral-colored wardrobe to shame."
Location: New York City
My mom was 23 years old in this picture. My mom’s print game back in the day puts my mostly neutral-colored wardrobe to shame. Also, look at that pose. There are too many memories to pick just one, but one time in my youth I spilled an entire pot of molé, and I helped her make another. -Tony Dominguez
"She is way better at doing the 'looking at the horizon' pose than me.
Location: Monterrey, Mexico
She was 24. She is way better at doing the “looking at the horizon” pose than me. My favorite memory is everytime she did “piojito” to help me sleep. -Morris Dávila
"[She became] the first woman in her family to get a professional degree."
At 20, my mom had already completed her degree in accounting, becoming the first woman in her family to get a professional degree. She secured employment before she graduated. She was 20 going on 21 in these photos for a newspaper in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. I believe they were announcing her engagement.
The coolest memory of my mom is her teaching me how to play guitar. She learned accords by drawing strings up on a piece of cardboard, and whenever she could steal the guitar from her older brother, she learned. So when the time came, she taught me. -Franco Caballero
"My mom somehow always manages to have a genuine good time."
Location: Eastside Denver, Colorado
My mom was 25. My mom somehow always manages to have a genuine good time while somehow remaining photogenic at the same time, and the tonal black fit is an everyday inspiration.
My fondest memories of my mom come on Christmas. She always makes way too much green chile then becomes the life of the party after just one beer. Every Christmas she stresses about not having enough food or our house not being big enough but as soon as the family gets there and someone puts on Malo or El Chicano, all the stress melts away and nothing else matters besides the family. Food and family, she always has her priorities straight. -Marcus Correa
"She's always made me feel comfortable with who I am."
Striped shirt and wide leg pants is why she’s cool. She’s like 24. The photo was taken at a presentation at church when I was 3. She’s a good mom because she’s always been so supportive, and since I remember, she’s always made me feel comfortable with who I am. -Alan López