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Music / Pies descalzos, sueños blancos

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"Perteneciste a una raza antigua,
de pies descalzos y de sueños blancos,
fuiste polvo, polvo eres
piensa que el hierro siempre al calor es blando."

"Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" is a 1996 single by Shakira from her 1995 album Pies descalzos. Ironically, it was not the first single from the album, and was actually one of the worse performing singles from it — though not unsuccessful at all. Because of the song's lengthy title, it is often just called "Pies Descalzos", which can lead to confusion with the album, and the foreign versions are often only a translation of this first part.

The English translation of the name would be "Bare Feet, White Dreams". This is referring to being wholly natural and innocent, which leads right into the meaning of the song. Meaning? It's just a Word Salad Lyrics Latin Rock hit? Jajajaja. It's social satire; very strong social satire, at that, despite being mostly lost on Shakira's new anglophone fanbase. The interpretations range from taking a hit at unnatural human laws and conventions in general, to specifically women and women in more conservative places, all the way to a very narrow focus on overloading teenagers with archaic customs and expectations instead of letting them live their own lives on the brink of adulthood. But, no matter how you read it, the song is definitely saying that invented rules are bad.

And it's not just the song lyrics. The music video, is exaggerating the images of the song to mock them even more. Eve portrayed as Gluttony? Check. Literal "dust to dust"? Check. Frightening masquerade ball-cum-quinceañera? Check. Did The Killers borrow ideas from it? Possibly.

Basically, Shakira is a badass, and while not wearing shoes.

Tropes de pies descalzos:

  • Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits: "Pies Descalzos" ("Bare Feet"), which can be read to be sung to a teenage girl telling her the expectations of being a woman by equating one with all women of history; however, it may be presented as satire by loading all of these expectations onto teenage girls at their quinceañeras. It starts with mentioning the original sin, more discussion  Then a verse describes how she (the addressee)/women built lives that were perfectly calculated, but says that she (the singer) is a complete mess by not knowing timings and names and movements, before listing a lot of said "acceptable" female actions dictated by society: politeness, saying and feeling only certain things, working hard, being pure in religion, to not speak at the dinner table, to always wear shoes, to dress well, to get married before 30 and, above all, have good champagne at your quinces and to perform the special waltz well. It's almost certainly satire, likely to say that it's wrong to put all this on a 15-year-old girl, and on women in general, especially since it heavily invokes tradition but also exaggeratedly ancient tradition, as well as addressing it somewhat mockingly, it may also be potentially calling on people to care about real social issues rather than making traditional gender roles a bigger deal. Or it may be genuinely warning poor teenage girls what they've unassumingly gotten themselves into, addressing the issue with sarcasm. It is probably part of the modern discourse on the role of the quinceañera and, notably, Colombia is one Latin country where it's become more common for girls to not have a quinceañera party.
  • All Women Love Shoes: The song says this should happen, "ponte siempre zapatos", but as satire — evident from the name — whilst also invoking that women should be a race of barefooted people.
  • Author Tract: Fuck made-up rules.
  • Barefoot Sage: One interpretation of women as a group that "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" applies.
  • Call-Forward: The urinals it appears Shakira is playing the bass in from the music video to "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" is one of the many images referenced by the music video for "Perro Fiel".
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: In the music video for "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos", it's also one of the interpretations of women that the song applies.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Referenced in "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos": tú mordiste la manzana y renunciaste al paraíso y condenaste a un serpiente siendo tú el que así lo quiso (in English: you bit the apple and renounced paradise, condemning a snake even though you wanted it). Imagery used to empower women, and also positively call them out for not being weak, though - due to the use of male pronouns - it might alternatively be Shakira calling out men for being responsible for the world and humanity's evils, instead of only Eve taking the blame. In the music video, a female representation of gluttony is shown pulling apples off a tree and gorging on them.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: You not only need to understand the lyrics to "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos", but be able to interpret them, to not think the music video is just plain weird.
  • Masquerade Ball: Ironically for the meaning of the song, the image of the masquerade ball does not seem to be being used as the social metaphor that all people are hiding who they are. Instead, it is calling out the nature of humans to have such parties as some kind of social institution that nobody particularly enjoys but goes along with, as well as the plentiful rules imposed on such kind of fancy parties that cause a forced pretension to access proper adult society. It also serves double-duty as the music video representation of the quinceañera, where it is used to reinforce that point about having to fit certain rules and images to join the adults, as many teenage girls are expected to do.
  • Satire: Who came and told humans to make up their own damn restrictive 'laws of nature' when nature was already doing a good job of implementing laws? Who decides to uphold centuries-old rules despite disagreeing with their intentions? Why do we heap expectations onto everyone when no-one naturally wants to abide by them? Come and hear it all as a snarking list of how to live your damn life, from a teenage Colombian woman.
  • Title Drop: "perteneciste a una raza antigua, de pies descalzos y de sueños blancos" ("you belonged to an ancient race of bare feet and white dreams")
  • Title Track: Of Pies descalzos.