Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture

Alejandra Trujillo

February 20, 2015

Mirror Essay


Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture



Latina adolescent had been shamed with all sorts’ stigmas in pop culture, although some of these stigmas may have been around for years they still affect the Latino population today. With the Latino population being the highest increase over the years, according to the United States census bureau as of July 1st, 2013 the Latino population had reached 54 million. Latinas have become objectified and categorized to teen pregnancy and lack of education, which brings on a bigger issue misrepresntations assumption. So why are Latina women categorized into theses stigmas, and stereotypes?

My whole life I’ve lived in the small town of Oregon City with the Latino population being below 10% 7.3% to be exact according to the United States Census Bureau. Growing up in a community that was and still is very undiverse resulted in me losing a lot of my cultural values and in many ways it made me see the Latino/Hispanic population very differently. I slowly began to struggle to talk in Spanish fluently it then turned into “Spanglish.” I was not only losing ability to speak the language properly, but I was losing the connection with my parents who could barley speaks or understand English. I began to see how different I was to the other Latina girls at my high school, and realized that I was not one of them. I had gone from attending church in Spanish to English, and not to mention people telling me I was “white washed.” Until college I began to gain my cultural values and morals back with the small diversity at Portland State that seemed very diverse to me. Last year in my Portland Freshman Inquiry I remember my professor tell us that Portland itself was not diverse, and to me this seemed wrong. This was very shocking to me because I had previously done an assignment for this class about the diversity in Portland. I then realized that the lack of diversity in Portland was greater then what I saw before. Coming from a small town were the Latino population was below 10% Portland seemed overly more diverse to me, but it actually was not like that at all.

Latina adolescence have gained a stigma that has portrayed them in negative ways some what may be true others that may not be so true. One of the main things that is seen mostly in the media Latina women being objectified to be “sexy” more so in news channels, soap operas, music video’s, or movies. Instead of being pessimistic and thinking that most Latina adolescence will becoming pregnant throughout high school, we need to be optimistic and talk about higher education and safe sex. Latina adolescences face many obstacles with the lack of resources in the underrepresented communities to language barriers. One of the main struggles for Latino/a adolescence comes with being the first generation in their family to attend college, with the possibility of becoming pregnant more common in the Latino community it has become difficult to reach out to receive the right resources, and help. While pregnancy may be an issue another issue would be the relationship needed from parents or guardians to pursue higher educations. From my personal experience I know how difficult it can be to find the right resources, and motivation to find a better future. Although my parents were very supportive the support was very limited. It became hard to seek their help when they had never done a college application because they had never got the opportunity to even consider attended college. Its important to become aware of the issue that occur and barriers that are faced that may lead to young Latino women becoming a statistic.

Back in 2012 a Latina student made headlines by composing “The Pregnancy Project” for her senior project, what was then made into a film. The project consisted of making everyone in her community believe she was pregnant. The reason to this was to see how differently she would be treat not by her not just by her peers, but family, teachers, and community. We have stereotyped the success that can be reached if an adolescent becomes pregnant, and it is very similar for every race. Throughout this film it shows how one can go from being treated in a favorable way to a non-existing person. Gaby being a student who is looked up to be her peers, and greatly appreciated by her teachers sees the transition of her now being considered a statistic, and how differently one is treated when they become part of a group. In this case it was that she was a Latina teen whose mother had her at a young age followed by her sister and brother becoming teen parents.

Freedom Writers was released in 2007 it tells the real life story of teacher who helped students who were struggling academically at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach become successful involved in their education. The lack of striving for a higher education for underrepresented communities and the difficulties those are associated with being in a low-income. The different struggles vary from gang associate, abuse, and violence and I think a lot of the time we forget that this issue occur on a daily biases. Many times with underrepresented communities more so with Latino/Hispanic and African American populations the issue of higher education is grater and I think it is well represented in this film. For some it may be difficult to open up about issue that occur outside the school setting, and it becomes difficult to talk about the issues because a lot of the time these underrepresented populations think that no one cares. The idea of mentor and supportive academic advisor who shows care into helping these type of issue that occur outside of the school setting can simply change the life of not one but multiple students.

Orange Is the New Black is a series on Netflix that tells the real life story of Piper Kerman who was busted in an drug that has happened 10 years ago. In this series the prisoners have segregated themselves into racial groups. An interview done by Gabillet on PopSugar, Kerman stated, “While initially people might sort of gravitate toward the people who are the same color of them.” While reflecting on the stereotypes that Latina women face I noticed many of them being applied in this series. Daya Diaz being pregnant by an officer seems something scandalous especially in prisons. Latina women are known to be loud, intimidating and scandalous. Later in season two you see the group of Latina women take over Red’s job in the kitchen, and they use that to their advantages because Latina women are known to be good in the kitchen. The emphasis that is shown thought this series is a lot of what you may imagine Latina women to be in areas where the Latino population in greater and the gang violence may be more present.

In conclusion I believe its important to understand and read about these on going issues that do not just affect the Latino population, but the underrepresented communities in United States. We need to seem beyond that fact that not everyone is a statistic. Learning to see things from a different perspective to understand pop culture and change how Latina and other communities are portrayed. Beginning with having more access to resources and programs that help pursue higher education, and opportunities for Latino women.








Work Citied


Brown, Anna. “U.S. Hispanic and Asian population growing, but for different reasons.” Pew Research Center. (2015) Web. 26 June 2014.


Freedom Writers. Dir. Richard LaGravenese. 5 January 2007. Perf. Hilary Swank. Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey. Biography. Film.


Gabillet, Annie. The True Story Behind Orange Is the New Black. PopSugar. Web. 16 July. 2014.


The Pregnancy Project. Dir. Teena Booth. 28 January 2012. Perf. Alexa PenaVega, Walker Perez, Sarah Smyth. Film.


United States. Census Bureau. “State and County Quickfacts.” Oregon. (2015). Web. 05 February 2015.

9 thoughts on “Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture

  1. i enjoyed reading your mirror essay, i feel like our papers correlated. both of these identities (African American and Latinos) are negatively received in the media and i liked how you expressed that Latins are misrepresented. Also, i liked how ou implemented the movie freedoom writers because it is really relevant in your argument. great essay

  2. Alejandra,
    I liked reading your paper, being a Latino myself and writing my paper on Latinos I found this very interesting. Doing my research I found that there are very different stereotypes for Latinos and Latinas, and it was nice to read about Latinas. One thing I found in common is that Latinas are shown as sex symbols which is very similar to a Latin lover that I wrote about. I liked how you wrote about your experience being a Latina and felt disconnected from your heritage. I understand where you are coming from with this as I too have the same feelings sometimes. Even though Portland isn’t as diverse as some parts of the world its nice to take a step back and remember where you come from.

  3. Alejandra,
    I have to say that I enjoyed your paper very much. I know some Latinos/Latinas that have gone through the same thing as you. They have told me how they struggled with re-learning spanish and recognizing their culture and I like that you spoke about that in your paper. At first I didn’t understand what you meant by Latinas being seen as sex symbols but when I thought about it I realized that in all the movies and all the music videos I’ve seen, Latinas were very sexualized. I really liked your essay, keep up the good work.

  4. Hi Alejandra. I enjoyed reading your essay, it was very insightful. It’s always interesting to see how people marginalize those that are so similar to them. It seems like every culture does it. It must be very difficult for minorities to maintain their heritage and also try to adapt to their new environment. There will always be those that stick to their heritage as much as possible and look down on those that don’t do the same. As long as you’re true to yourself though things will work out. You also mentioned the sexualization of Latin women. My first exposure to Latin women was on Univision in the 90’s. The variety shows, soap operas, and morning news. The women were always highly sexualized and it was very obvious. We only got one channel of Latin entertainment so it created a lot of stereotypes. Those roots are probably still influencing us today. Hopefully the pop culture image of Latin women can positively change to better represent the strong intelligent women that the community relies on.

  5. Hello Alejandra,
    I found your essay to be very interesting, I chose to read your essay because I also wrote about how latinas are portrayed by popular culture, I chose to concentrate on latina students. I also found that latinas are highly sexualized. I also speak a lot of spanglish and I did not notice it until I visited my grandparents in Guatemala and they couldn’t understand what I was saying. They would always correct me with little things like “carpeta” its not a proper spanish word, carpet would be said as “alfombra”. My Portland Freshman Inquiry professor also told me about the lack of diversity in Portland but yet PSU promotes it’s vast diversity.
    Good job on your essay!
    -Josseline Barrientos

  6. Hello Alejandra,

    Great job on your essay! I enjoyed reading it and can relate to come issues.I grew up in a small town as well and I was probably 1 of 3 Asian student in my high school. So I totally know how it feels to grow up in a small town. I liked how you brought up the fact that people say Portland is not very diverse because I think it is very diverse, I probably think that because I came from such a small town. I feel that there are stereotypes out there about latinos getting pregnant young, not finishing college or they always have alot of children but I have many friends that are Latina that dont fit into these stereotypes and most are college graduates. I think being a minority as well I can relate to your essay.

  7. Hi Alejandra,

    I really enjoy in reading your paper! I think you did a great job on your essay! I do think Latinos/Latinas are misrepresented and there are certain stereotypes. I think it is important to keep the diversity of city. To some extent, cultural diversity can create vibrant vitality.I think similar situation happens in Asian- American families. Many of my friends say that they feel hard to communicate with their parents because their parents cannot speak English. It is a sad experience. I think you point a universal issue. Thanks to share your paper.

  8. Hi Alejandra,
    I thought you did great on this paper! Although I do not directly relate with this topic, I found it to be very interesting. I know the representation of Latinos/as is currently a big issue in America, and I enjoyed reading your elaboration on this topic. I agree that looking at these populations as a statistic is terrible problem, as it allows the government and companies to remove the human element from issues. I enjoyed reading this, great job!

  9. Hello Alejandra,
    You did a really good job on this paper. It was very interesting and kept me reading till the very end. Using Freedom Writers as one of your sources was a brilliant idea. That is honestly one of my favorite movies so I was thinking of the plot while I continued to read your paper. Being Latina myself I grew up in a place where it was very diverse so I always had every type of race around me. People weren’t necessarily as stereotypical as like other places. We are very misrepresented in the media and people sometimes stereotype us into false categories that they see in the media. Thank you for sharing your paper, I enjoyed reading it.

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