Re-imagining the Latina in Popular Culture

by Latina Fatale on 09/01/2011 · 4 comments

in Feminism

I write in solidarity with the earlier post on this site, “Shame on Latina Magazine.” I do believe it is problematic that Latinas are overwhelmingly shown in such stereotypical roles as maids and housekeepers in Hollywood and other media. What is problematic is that by and large, Hollywood and other outlets of popular culture simply cannot imagine Latinas in any other roles.

If it is not the maid or housekeeper role that we so often see in mass media, it is the sexy Latina– She is all breasts and hips, long dark hair and boy does she get fired up. Muy caliente. One of my favorite actresses, Salma Hayek, recently spoke about this image in her September Allure magazine interview. She said, “When I first started, I found that I had to play the part of something they could swallow in Hollywood, which was the sexy Latin girl, I was not dressing like that in Mexico.”

But can we re-imagine the Latina in popular culture? Can she be something more diverse, less stereotypical? More empowered?

In response to this clear problem in mainstream popular culture, I am beginning a new series on my blog called Imaginate, where we will do just this– encourage the re-imagining of the Latina image in American culture and media. We will begin by highlighting the work of female writers and artists who are breaking the mold. I want to raise the profile of women who are doing things that current popular culture rarely imagines they are doing.

We already have enough depictions of hard-working Latinas and women of color as domestic workers (could this be because there are so few women directors/writers in Hollywood?) So let’s turn the spotlight on other women working hard in other kinds careers. I welcome your suggestions as to who to profile, and encourage you to spread the word.

About the Author: Lourdes E. Acevedo is a writer and poet of Mexican and English descent. Her blog can be found here
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ankhesen Mié September 1, 2011 at 2:44 am

What is problematic is that by and large, Hollywood and other outlets of popular culture simply cannot imagine Latinas in any other roles.

So I’ve noticed. I myself try to dreamcast Latinas in unexpected roles. I started with America Ferrera.

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Lourdes Acevedo September 1, 2011 at 3:13 am

Ankhesen– Nice! I like it.

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Ankhesen Mié September 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Glad you like it. But in more “realistic” settings I’d like to see more Latina doctors, professors, and scientists. I started writing a horror novel and I cast a Latina in the role of an accomplished sociologist.

I also have this philosophy that when setting a fictional story in America, it’s best to make the dominant population Hispanic/Indigenous American.

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Aixa September 26, 2011 at 2:21 am

I think this is starting to change. Maria Conchita Alonso’s recent role with Arnold Shwarzenegger; Roselyn Sanchez, la puertorriqueña, is now playing a detective; Sofia Vergara is in a nice, family show; Jessica Alba, how many movies has she been in! I think we’re headed in the right direction.

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