Breaking the Latina Stereotype

by Galilea Oregon

You have seen her before: beautiful tan skin, thick dark hair, pouted full lips, and a voluptuous body. She is feisty, exotic, and full of sex appeal. She is Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and Eva Longoria. She is the face of the 45 million Latina girls and women in the United States. But she is a generalized and misrepresented stereotype created by the media who does not include the diversity among Latinas across the nation.

Growing up in a Mexican household, I was accustomed to watching novelas (Spanish-speaking soap operas) and Spanish-speaking talkshows. I’d see these gorgeous women on the television screen at the mere age of five or six and I’d think to myself how badly I wanted to grow up and look just like them. I never did. My frizzy hair would not stay straight regardless of all the hours spent in the bathroom frying my hair with a straightener. I turned thirteen and I still did not have the curves I hoped myself to have. I wasn’t “hot” or graceful. I was just me.

At thirteen and a half, it finally hit me: we Latina girls are not all going to look like the Latina women on television. We are not destined to look like JLo or Sofia Vergara. JLo looks like JLo, and Sofia Vergara, well, looks like Sofia Vergara. We look the way we look because of the genes we inherit from our parents, not because we fit under an ethnicity known for its vibrant beauty.

“When I was little, I’d see actresses in Mexican soap operas with these beautiful faces and amazing bodies. I was so insecure with my body, I wanted to look like them. But I look at myself now in the mirror and I love myself. I love the way I look. I’m happy.” -Cristal Sandoval


“I hate the fact that we Latina girls are judged based on our ‘modesty.’ The fact that we’re considered ‘trashy’ because our shorts are ‘too short’ and our makeup ‘too exaggerated’ is wrong. I want people to get to know me before they stereotype me based off my ethnicity.”- Jocelyn Gomez


“I want Latina girls to know they are appreciated and loved, even if they don’t fit an oversexed stereotype.”- Chanel Torres


“I’m not loud or sassy like Latinas are perceived to be. We aren’t ‘crazy’ like most boys think we are. We’re like sisters and we want to protect each other.”- Xylia Aguilar


I think back on all those years as a little girl who could not relate to her role models on television. I wanted to be exactly like the face of Latina women. Today, I think of all the little Latina girls who are going to grow up thinking that they have to live up to that unrealistic standard in order to be “pretty,” and my heart aches for them. I want more representation. I want dark Latinas, light Latinas, mixed Latinas, short, tall, thick, skinny, I want to see that diversity of women, each and every single one of them, beautiful in their own way, I want to see the diversity of Latina women on the covers of magazines, on television. I want little girls to see Latina celebrities and to say “She looks just like me,” and to be happy with their appearances and to grow to love themselves.

The face of Latinas across the United States is changing. She is not a lonely generalization, but rather, she walks hand in hand with the thousands of unique Latina women across the nation.

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