Walking the streets of Sucre, Bolivia, over a decade ago, photographer Delphine Blast was struck by the Aymara women and how they dressed in layered skirts and shawls, with a bowler hat perched atop their long black braids. The women were both tough—years of hard work etched in their faces, weathered by the harsh altiplano climate—and delicate. She remembers being impressed by their strength, especially after she learned of the social and racial discrimination they had long endured.
This was before the 2005 election of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Amerindian president, under whose leadership the majority indigenous population saw greater recognition and autonomy. When Blast returned recently to La Paz, she noticed a shift, especially among the younger generation. These women, known as cholitas—a diminutive of the pejorative Spanish word chola, in reference their Indian heritage—had been reclaimed by a new generation. There was a cholita modeling school and television show, and their traditional dress was even inspiring broader fashion trends. Read More via NationalGeographic.