Adoptive Mom and Luisa Cosplayer is Schooling TikTokers on the Definition of Self-Love

Maribel Martinez is the living embodiment of strength, love, and Encanto's Luisa.

Maribel Martinez screenshot of cosplay as Luisa from Encanto
Photo: Maribel Martinez

Maribel Martinez skyrocketed to TikTok fame after cosplaying Luisa from Encanto. No pressure!

The 23-year-old adoptive mom of two proves the power of representation in film, and in loving and embracing yourself. Dressed as Luisa and lip-synching to the song "Surface Pressure" has garnered Martinez more than 20 million views on her personal TikTok page. Viewership increased dramatically when others started to share the video clip far and wide.

"I've never seen any cartoon character or Disney character ever look like a feminine but yet masculine woman," Martinez told Today. "It's not a normal thing you see every day."

Not only does she look like the strong, masculine, and fiercely feminine character, but she relates to Luisa on a personal level as well.

"The song just related to me so much in my own livelihood," she told Today.

"It also relates to a Hispanic community where the family dynamic is brought up like that," Martinez told NBC News. "We're put under so much pressure."

Martinez was first touched by the song and the lyrics before even seeing the film about the Madrigal family, who are each gifted with magical talent. Luisa's gift is physical strength, but her emotional side, which is under pressure due to family obligations, is given equal relevance in the story. That hit home for Martinez.

"Growing up as a middle child, I felt so much pressure to take care of my siblings and handle adult responsibilities," she told Buzzfeed. "I never really had the opportunity to be just a child. I was my mom's emotional support and a role model to my younger siblings."

After Martinez's older siblings were "adopted out" of the family, she became the oldest.

"I felt like I had no choice but to take on so much weight," she said.

Her sentiment aligns perfectly with the words Luisa sings, which include: "Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that'll never stop, whoa. Pressure that'll tip, tip, tip 'till you just go pop, whoa. Give it to your sister, your sister's older. Give her all the heavy things we can't shoulder. Who am I if I can't run with the ball?"

As if Martinez couldn't possibly take on more, in a great act of love, she adopted her two younger siblings to raise as her own children. For her, this show of compassion and unconditional love for her siblings, now children, was also a gesture of self-love following a childhood riddled with abuse and trauma.

"I realized it was okay to not always be strong, and allow myself to feel emotional without having to feel insecure with expressing myself," she said.

Martinez is leading by example and inspiring millions of children and families to love and honor themselves. While she's humbled by the unexpected response to her TikTok, Martinez takes pride in inspiring one special little girl, her adopted daughter, who was once her little sister.

"I just want her to always find a way to love herself the way she is … it doesn't matter if she's different," she told Today. "I'm the parent who will support no matter what my child chooses to do with their life as long as it makes them happy."

She tells Parents that her kids are "as shocked as I am but also excited" about her viral success.

Martinez's TikTok continues making people feel happy with more views racking up every day and viewers gushing over the content.

"You were meant for this part!!!" one viewer commented. "We gotta get you to BROADWAY ASAP!"

One mom commented, "My daughter (4yrs) is losing her mind. She's watched your videos constantly since we came across your profile. You're amazing!"

Another mom wrote, "My daughter loves your video and wants to be strong like you."

Martinez told Buzzfeed, "Honestly, I feel honored to be called the real-life Luisa."

Keep inspiring, Maribel!

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