According to Hollywood films and television shows, Latinas are hyper-sexual, “spicy”, and curvaceous. There aren't that many Latinas role to begin with and the few that are portrayed usually come with the stereotype. While some Latinas may chose to describe themselves with those adjectives, it eliminates the notion of us being a person when its the only media roles available. Instead it explicitly makes Latinas sex objects and not only limits the roles for Latina actresses, but effects how Latinas are seen in society. The mainstream representation of Latinas are so obscure from reality that there is also the issue of almost completely excluding Afrolatina roles. In Hollywood, Latinos are almost always light or olive skinned and black Latinos are just non existent. Actress Gina Torres, an Afrolatina, has spoken about her experience in Hollywood saying "When I became an actress I quickly realize that the world liked their latinos to look Italian. Not like me. So I wasn’t going up for Latina parts. I was going up for African American parts. Regardless of the fact that I spoke the language better and understood the culture better, those [stereotypical latina] weren’t the parts that I could take seriously. Suddenly you have to explain why I look how I look. And then it gets complicated. And nobody wants complicated.”
When Latinas are misrepresented in the media it creates an unfair and unrealistic expectation from Latinas. We are expected to be loud and always “sexually on” at any given moment. Latinas are not only misrepresented but have a skewed view of who they are and what they should be. Unlike white actresses, Latinas aren't usually offered the opportunity to portray different roles. Latinas aren't seen as quirky to have a show like New Girl or enough to be included in “normal real girl” shows like Girls.
For my final project I would like to create a video where different Latinas are interviewed and are able to discuss their views/personal stories of their representation in film and television. This idea is inspired by HBO's segment Habla Women, where women share their stories from a Latina perspective, and Bell Hooks' The Oppositional Gaze where she examines how black female spectators view their representation in the media. My project time line isn't certain yet as my schedule has been unusually erratic lately, but I would like to start filming the interviews late this month.
Habla Women promo poster:
Afrolatinos in Hollywood