Latinx Women: More Than Curves

Latinx people are constantly being stereotyped. Especially, Latinx women who have had a long history of being stereotyped for being ‘hypersexualized’ in films and television shows. In this short blog post we will be analyzing the ‘passionate’ and ‘hypersexualized’ stereotypes of Latinx women in the media in shows/films. Our research concludes that more accurate representation of Latinx women in the media has grown and is continuing to grow in the upcoming years by the introduction of our new shows/films such as  Jane the Virgin, Shades of Blue, Colombiana, Grand Hotel, Station 19, Rosewood and many more. 

Sofia Vergara From The Odyssey Online
A Meme exposing the sexualization of Latinx women: From Educated Latinas

What does it mean to be a Latinx woman in film and TV? Well, one of the biggest tropes representing Latinx women is that they are ‘spicy’ and ‘hot blooded’; this means that Latinx women are mostly represented for their curvy bodies and their instinct to snap at someone at any moment (Felix). The trope of ‘spicy’ Latinx women was created based on the male gaze, which means that the audience sees a woman as visual pleasure and an “object of desire” through the perspective of a male (Jackson & Hogg, 2010). Having ‘spicy’ Latinx women in the media can make other Latinx girls and women feel insecure if they do not have the body that is constantly shown on screen (McLaughlin). This trope is also problematic because it excludes other women with different body types and with other favorable traits that Latinx women struggle with in reality. This trope does not give the audience much characteristics for them to understand a Latinx women. This ‘spicy’ Latinx women  trope basically says that Latin women are passive and are only there for the pleasure of the male protagonist. They are describing an object or like Liz Felix says, “a chicken sandwich” (Felix, 2014). It is time that we see more diverse Latinx women in films and TV shows so they are more relatable to other Latinx women. There are shows and films that are pushing back against the trope of ‘spicy’ Latinx women to show that there is more to them than meets the eye. There are TV shows and films that show Latinx women as intelligent, skilled, and can be leaders, and it is about time the entertainment industry reflected how powerful these women can be in reality.

In the TV series, Jane the Virgin, we see Jane as this confident, strong, smart Latinx woman. She was a teacher trying to inspire young kids to do their best. She became a writer and we got to see her constantly struggle with what to write next, showing her using her mind instead of her body to get what she wants out of life. There is a new TV series that just premiered on ABC June 17, called Grand Hotel. Only two episodes have aired so far, but we get an immediate impression of a character when they are first introduced. We are introduced to Alicia Mendoza whose family owns a hotel. Alicia came home from graduating from college where she received her masters in business, so she can help run her family business. She’s intelligent in deciding to go to college so she can figure out new ways to keep the hotel going and thriving. If she was a ‘spicy’ Latinx women, she would allow a man to go to college and be educated instead because that is what passive characters do. In this series, we get to see Alicia’s intelligence and creativity in action. She is not just sitting on the side-lines looking pretty while a man tries to figure things out. She is willing to take on the future challenges head on. In neither of the shows does the woman’s sexuality represent her in any way, it is just a factor of her life. They are not constantly showing their bodies off, or spending all of their waking time to trying to grab the attention of a man. Yes, Jane sexuality plays a part of her character description but that is only because she was a virgin when she got pregnant and it references religion. These women have proven that they are more than their bodies. Not only are Latinx women intelligent, but they are also skilled.

Jane from Jane the Virgin: From Imdb
Alicia from Grand Hotel: From Miami

In the show Shades of Blue and the film Colombiana, we get to see Latinx women as resourceful and skilled women. In Shades of Blue, we see Detective Harlee Santos is a crooked cop who is an informant to help with the FBI anti-corruption task force and is also working with other crooked cops. She framed her abusive ex-lover for murder but it takes skill to cover-up such a crime, to frame someone else for that crime, and be able to stay above the frame where she does not have to worry and hide from the police. It takes a lot of effort and skill to be able to out-smart cops on a murder case. We see through the series that she does bad things for understandable reasons like to protect her daughter. She never does anything bad for no reason; in this world it is a lot more complicated than right and wrong, and I am sure people in reality can relate in a similar way. In the film Colombiana, a woman named Cataleya Restrepo watches her parents get killed in front of her and decides she is going to get revenge on one of the biggest drug lords in Colombia. She has to train for a long time, get connected, and find resources in order to defeat these drug lords. If she was a true ‘spicy’ Latinx woman, that would have been her backstory that should have to live with and move on. She is determined to avenge her parents. She cares deeply for the ones that are around her and she loves even if she tries not to show it. She is very skilled fighter; the fact that she is able to take down a big drug lord and not get caught shows. In both the film and TV show, these Latinx women are very resourceful especially when they are motivated by family. These women take action when they know that no else is going to help them. Being resourceful and a skilled fighter are still a few of the many traits that make up Latinx women.

Zoe Saldana playing Cataleya from Colombiana: From What’s On TV
Jennifer Lopez in Shades of Blue: From the Hollywood Reporter

Latinx women are also leaders in their own right. In the TV shows, Station 19 and Rosewood, shows women in active leadership roles in very demanding active careers. In Station 19, Andrea “Andy” Herrera is a firefighter. In the series people look to Andy to lead them when they are in a difficult situation. She was co-captain when her father was diagnosed with cancer and needed to take it easy. She was going to be captain until someone else was chosen over her but the captain they chose comes to her on how to gain the trust of the other firefighters. She is the daughter of a former captain, which means a lot of people are expecting great things from her, but there are challenges that come her way just because she is a woman. She rises above and is willing to overcome any obstacles that come her way. She is able to beat all the stigmas that say women cannot be a firefighter. If Andy was a ‘spicy’ Latinx women she would not be in this type of career and would just be the love interest of a firefighter instead of being an actual one. In the show Rosewood, Annalise Villa is a detective who works with a pathologist in Miami, Florida to solve murders. She is looked to solve the murders; her partner provides the evidence while she questions people and pieces the evidence to get a clear picture as to what happened to the victims. Without Annalise the murders would not get solved, and the new police captain even knows how skilled she is and comes to her to get advice on how to run things. She is intelligent, skilled, and determined, and cannot be shaken easily; these qualities do not make up a ‘spicy’ Latinx woman.

Andy in Station 19: From Variety
Annalise from Rosewood: From Pinterest

All of these women are beautiful in their own ways and their beauty and sexuality does not define them. They are not just on screen to look attractive while the men do all the work. These women are here to show that Latinx women can be anything they want to be when they set their minds to it, and that is what we want to continue to capture on screen. The time for  Latinx female characters being passive is finally over. We want to continue to see Latinx women being portrayed in the best way, so that the Latinx girls watching can see that body types and beauty does not matter in reality (McLaughlin). Latinx women can go after whatever career they want to because the sky’s the limit and times are changing forever. 

Works Cited 
“Are Latinas Made of Sex, Spice, & Fabuloso?” Educated Latina, 28 Mar. 2018, http://educatedlatina.com/are-latinas-made-of-sex-spice-fabuloso/
Best, Jason. “DVD Review: Colombiana - Zoe Saldana Kicks Ass as Besson's Latest Avengeing Angel,  Movie Talk, What's on TV.” What's on TV, 24 May 2016, www.whatsontv.co.uk/news/dvd-review-colombiana-zoe-saldana-kicks-ass-as-bessons-latest-avengeing-angel-322717/.
Bryan McLaughlin, Nathian S. Rodriguez, Joshua A. Dunn & Jobi Martinez (2018) Stereotyped Identification: How Identifying with Fictional Latina Characters Increases Acceptance and Stereotyping, Mass Communication and Society, 21:5, 585-605, DOI:                 10.1080/15205436.2018.1457699
Busto, Carolina del. “ABC's Grand Hotel Is Set in the Magic City and Stars a Very Miami Cast.” Miami New Times, 4, 12 June 2019,     www.miaminewtimes.com/arts/grand-hotel-new-abc-series-premiering-june-17-features-miami-cast-and-crew-11194745.
Felix, L. (2014, Mar 21). Latina representation on TV: We're more than just a spicy chicken sandwich! La Prensa San Diego Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/docview/1511436657?accountid=7118 
Fienberg, Daniel. “'Shades of Blue': TV Review.” The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Jan. 2016, www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/shades-blue-tv-review-851408.
Jackson, R. L. & Hogg, M. A. (2010). Visual pleasure. In Encyclopedia of identity (pp. 868-870). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781412979306.n279
“Jane the Virgin.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 13 Oct. 2014, www.imdb.com/title/tt3566726/.
“Rosewood (TV Series 2015) | Rosewood | Tv Series, Rosewood Tv Show, Tv Shows Funny.” Pinterest, www.pinterest.com/pin/313563192786597343/?lp=true.
Saraiya, Sonia. “TV Review: 'Grey's Anatomy' Spinoff 'Station 19'.” Variety, 22 Mar. 2018, variety.com/2018/tv/reviews/station-19-review-greys-anatomy-spinoff-1202733867/. 
Torres, Andrea. “The Sexualization Of Latinas.” The Odyssey Online, 25 Aug. 2017,            www.theodysseyonline.com/the-sexualization-of-latina-bodies.

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