Why The Search For Passionate, Big, Brash Latina Moms Makes Me SickJeannette Kaplun
It’s no secret Latinas moms are hot, right? I mean, just take a look at Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek. Then why does a casting call for “passionate Latina moms” make me sick to my stomach? I’m not the only one feeling this way. Another fellow Latina, Tanisha Love Ramirez, shared her feelings on Jezebel yesterday. To paraphrase her, the casting call made her blood boil.
Why? Perhaps it has to do with stereotypes that have always bothered me, and what they imply. More than once people have told me I don’t look Latina enough or question whether my children speak Spanish at all since they are fair skinned and my son has blue eyes. Once I was asked why I didn’t wear as much makeup as other Latinas. And there was one incident many years ago in which a male producer said that I needed to show more cleavage and wear shorter skirts if I wanted to make it big in Hispanic television. Not really how I wanted to shine, since I studied journalism and was more concerned about credibility.
I know appearances are key when working on television, plus you need to show your personality if you want to stand out. But people really want more. After all, for years I co-hosted the only network parenting television show on the biggest Hispanic networks in the US, Univision and Telemundo. I can proudly say our shows were all about sharing useful, informative and entertaining content, which doesn’t mean we didn’t have beautiful hosts and guests. We did. But Todobebé and Viva la Familia’s TV hosts, which included some of the most famous and beautiful Latina moms (for the record, we did interview Salma Hayek), were never directed to be brash, wear sexier clothes or to show how “hot blooded” they are.
I can’t condone how this reality show casting call once more is objectifying women. Especially Latinas. As if our ethnicity predisposes us to act a certain way and requires us to look sexy at all times. In all ethnic groups you will find big and brash personalities, women who are a bit heavy handed with their makeup or that simply enjoy showing a bit too much skin. But why do we insist on singling out Latinas? Is it because we are supposed to be curvier? Louder?
As a mother, it worries me. How I hope my daughter won’t be pigeonholed because she is Latina! Or that people will not assume that when she misbehaves I will pull out a chancleta (flip-flop) and that I’ll start smacking her. Or that she will have to wear tons of makeup, trashy clothes and be sexy to really fit in the Hispanic profile.
While we are discussing this, can other writers and the media please do me a favor? Quit trying to pretend you know Spanish or are familiar with Hispanic expressions. I am sick of reading Latina moms are “muy caliente.” In case you’re wondering, where I grew up it doesn’t mean “very hot” or “very sexy.” It means “very horny.”
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