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Separating Latina Stereotypes from Reality

Updated on February 7, 2013

Latinas in daily life are sometimes affected by unfair stereotypes of what people believe they really are. Today, Annette, Pilar, and Maria are three American Latinas who have been brought to the table to discuss separating Latina stereotypes from reality.

Annette's background is Puerto Rican, Pilar's is Spanish from Spain, and Maria's is both Mexican and Brazilian, so their backgrounds also bring different viewpoints to the table. All three women are also college educated.

Stereotypes and Rebuttals

Q. Let's start with the stereotype that Latinas are loud?

A. (Maria speaking) I think this stereotype comes from the fact that a lot of Latin people simply communicate differently from, let's say, English people. America's culture is still based off of the behavior of the English settlers that colonized the country. English people like a lot of personal space and are more low-pitched and subtle. And nothing is wrong with that.

People with Latin heritage are sometimes less into personal space and as a culture speak more loudly. But this also varies from country-to-country. So it might sound like Latinas are loud to people of other cultures, but for a lot of Latin people, it's just the normal way of speaking.

Q. What about the stereotype that Latinas are loose?

A. (Annette speaking) I think this stereotype is hurtful, but it is simply based off of the sexy way Latinas sometimes dress in the media. I can tell you that Latinas are no looser than any other culture of female. You have to remember that the Catholic church is strong throughout all Latin countries and those Christian morals are very ingrained into the people's minds. Marriage is a very important thing in Latin culture because of the church.

Latinas sometimes dress sexy, but it is more of a look-but-don't-touch mentality. We know the female body is beautiful just like everyone else. Can you tell me, though, do you really think more Latin women are sleeping around than women of other cultures? That would be a ridiculous conclusion.

Q. The tropicalization of Latinas, for example, the portrayal of them dancing around fires, hooting and partying loudly, and exciting the men -- would you say that is a stereotype?

A. (Pilar speaking) I know about tropicalization and that's just stupid. Don't get me wrong, Latin people as a culture love celebrations, but the whole vulgar dancing idea gets me a little mad. You have to understand that while Spaniards are culturally a little different from Latin Americans and other Latinos, Spanish dancing is still a strong influence with them all.

And to anyone who falls for this tropicalization stereotype, I would ask them if they've actually ever seen real Spanish dancing? Have they ever seen Flamenco or Bolero dancing -- some of the most classic and beautiful dancing man has ever created? The island-influenced dancing that you are describing exists, but certainly not all Latinas are doing that kind of thing as a practice. People dance in all different ways. If you ask me, vulgar dancing is something you see in certains kinds of modern clubs -- where people of all backgrounds meet. And I can't remember the last time I danced around a fire.

Q. And finally, how do you feel about the stereotype of Latinas always having children, too many babies?

A. (Annette speaking) Latinas traditionally did have a lot of children, and sometimes still do. A big family is considered a blessing in some Latino cultures. I can say that Catholicism has a lot to do with it. Strict Catholics do not believe in birth control. Let me say that marriage is emphasized in Latino culture and ideally having many children is done within marriage.

If you look at statistics you will also see that Latinas get married younger than most other cultures of women. But I would also say that the more financially secure a Latina is, the less children she tends to have. That seems to be the case with most people as well.


Thank you ladies for having joined us today and helping us in this discussion panel. It is always good to get to know what a culture is like on the inside rather than to make blanket assumptions.


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