One of the biggest problems I have had growing up is that I am of Hispanic heritage but was adopted and raised by a pretty typical Caucasian-American family and so I didn’t grow up the “traditional” Hispanic way.
So one of the biggest problems that I have had is people around me assuming that since I look Hispanic I am somehow automatically instilled with any and everything that has to do with being Hispanic. I used to be a cashier and almost everybody that came in asked if I spoked Spanish because of how I looked, and if i didn’t I was looked down upon because I didn’t know. This assumption led to me being looked down upon by not one ethnicity but really anybody who walked through the door. So when I received an assignment to look into apart of me that I never really touched because people were so mean to me because I wasn’t raised a certain way, I grabbed the chance and ran with it. With that being said, Hispanic women have pushed through the stereotypical lens they have been shoved into and evolved to become an independent and confident part of society, show in today’s popular culture media.
Hispanic Stereotypes and Popular Culture
I am not going to lie, there is usually going to be some truth behind a stereotype but that doesn’t mean that they are fully true or sometimes true at all. One of the biggest things that I haven’t dealt with personally but that I know has been a huge issue, is the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community and the different Hispanic populations, and how those have came together, has really been hard for a lot of different people, specially teens. I feel confident in saying that a good portion of Hispanics that are religious, are pretty true to their religion and one of the things that we have seen lately in media is how those two haven’t been getting along. Netflix’s show One Day At a Time has really stood out in popular culture recently because of the end of their first season.
“15-year-old Elena Alvarez (Isabella Gomez) walks out at her quinceañera wearing not a traditional gown but a white suit, shortly after coming out to her family. Her father, Victor (James Martinez), rejects her, leaving her alone on the dance floor for the father-daughter dance. But Elena is not left alone for long. Her mother, Penelope (Justina Machado), quickly steps in to take Victor’s place, along with the rest of the family” (Lawler, 1).
This show is a great example of what is going on in the world today because this is the sort of stuff that is actually happening. After doing research for this project, I noticed that there was an expectation for people with Hispanic families (or even just people with Hispanic heritage) to be apart of everything traditionally Hispanic and, then if they weren’t, they were pretty much shunned and outcasted. This project actually showed me that these assumptions about who I was while growing up wasn’t happening to just me.
With that being said, over the past decade these assumptions have gotten better and One Day At a Time is a great example of that. One Day at a Time is reaching thousands of people on Netflix and showing them that they aren’t alone. I think that is one of the most important things that I discovered this term, was that just because people feel alone or isolated doesn’t mean that they actually are. Everybody is different and that a part of you doesn’t define you no matter what people say.
Digging Deeper Into What Being a Hispanic Woman Represents
After my initial research I realized that the one of the biggest problems that women of Hispanic heritage face in popular culture is that they really aren’t taken seriously in America. As of late most of the shows launched with a Hispanic woman as the lead have not done well at all. This wasn’t until shows like Jane The Virgin showed up. Jane The Virgin has found this niche between relating to people of Hispanic heritage while talking about people with Hispanic heritage at the same time.
One of the ways that Jane The Virgin does that is the show is in a sort of telenovela format. A telenovela for anybody who doesn’t know is “a soap opera produced in and televised in or from many Latin American countries”. Jane The Virgin “…makes the telenovela format its own and adds dimension to characters who could otherwise be flat and unoriginal ”(Martinez,1). Jane The Virgin cease relatable to everyone and that is why she has done over 64 episodes and is now going on their forth season. This show has really made an impact how Hispanic are seen and understood. Before this project I had never seen this show and honestly expected to not like it but Jane the Virgin is relatable and real and I personally couldn’t help but binge-watch all of it because I saw so much of me in her. This was a huge turning point for me in this project because I went from wanting to try and stand-up for some of Hispanic heritage to being proud of it, and who I am.
What I learned?
My journey the past ten weeks for this project has really made me that much more confident in who I am and what this part of my identity is and has become. When I was I was younger I was embarrassed of this part of my identity because people would shun me for not being a “real” Mexican and after this project and diving head first into this I am noticed how I am not the only one who feels this way and that Hispanic women comes in all shapes and sizes. Unlike American popular culture Hispanic popular culture is starting to show that. One of the best examples of this is Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Orange is the New Black has surpassed every other Latina-led show in the past decade. Everybody is different and that’s a part of what makes Orange is the New Black so amazing and so important. “…These women are tender and tough, nurturing and cruel..”(Bmanuel,1). Orange is the New Black has gone even farther and shown dimension to their characters, making them actual people. This show “ No longer mere whores or virgins, mere mothers or girlfriends, Flaca, Gloria, Daya, Maritza, Aleida, Blanca and Maria show us the breadth
of the Latina experience on screen, in all its complicated and unapologetic glory.That, more than anything, is Orange Is the New Black’s lasting legacy” (Bmanuel, 1) So in conclusion, I went from wanting to try and stand-up for some of my Hispanic heritage to being proud of it, and who I am, that is what I learned from my Sophomore Inquiry, Popular Culture.
-Martinez, Diana. “Jane the Virgin Proves Diversity Is More Than Skin Deep.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 May 2017.
-Bmanuel. “Most Radical Thing About ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Is Its Latina Characters.” Mic. Mic Network Inc., 15 June 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
-Lawler, Kelly. “How Netflix’s ‘One Day at a Time’ Flips the Coming-out Script.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
-“One Day at a Time.” Netflix Official Site. N.p., 06 Jan. 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.
–“”Orange Is the New Black” Recap (4.2): If the Suit Fits.” AfterEllen. N.p., 22 June 2016. Web. 22 May 2017.
-“Jane the Virgin Chapter 38 Recap: Moving Out.” Channel Guide Magazine. N.p., 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 22 May 2017.
-N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2017. http://37.media.tumblr.com/0841e4aded2c66f09da05585412ec9d9/tumblr_mrk0fyA6yl1r17qi5o1_500.gif
-Giphy. “Jane The Virgin GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY, n.d. Web. 07 June 2017.
-Giphy. “Netflix GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2017.
-“Telenovela.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 07 June 2017.