My Ethnicity is Not Your Fetish

The perfect woman idealism has consistently changed throughout history. Cultural stereotypes and the male gaze are the blueprint for creating this woman fantasy. Men are the ones who pick and choose what they want in a woman like building a robot. The beauty standard for women changes no matter what. Having a slender or curvy body fluctuates from time to time. We [women] can never be satisfied with ourselves because all of the sudden we’re not the definition of beautiful. 

The media influences how different ethnicities are supposed to look like or act as if it’s a personality to be a certain ethnicity. Growing up watching latina icons on the big screen like Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara, and Salma Hayek they were the representation of latinas in modern American media. Then the fantasy of a spicy, exotic, and sexy latina woman was the trope for Latina actresses. 

Ever since the “silent era” during the 1930’s where silent movies dominated the world of entertainment, latina women were already portrayed as fiery, dramatic women whose temper had to be tamed by the white alpha man. During the 1930’s, the only identity Latina women can portray on-screen was the temptress. The fantasy of a spicy, exotic latina woman was glamorized by white men. Telenovelas also have cultivated the trope because of its dramatic plots. In most Hollywood films, the Latina characters are just known for their colorful personality that brings a bit of edge to the plot but the male lead of the movie only exoticises her instead of embracing her as a person. 

Not exuding the spicy, exotic, and sexy latina woman fantasy means that I’m not fulfilling the male gaze’s desires. Being asked to say something in Spanish because it sounds ‘sexy or exotic’. The Spanish accent is mocked in the media because it’s funny or non-American. Just because Spanish is a romance language doesn’t mean it’s the sole purpose for sexual fetishes. With the fetishization of latina women means only fantasizing their body instead of the complexities of a person. It’s not to shame the beauty of latina women because we’re not an object to be contained, sexualized, or conquered. 

 Being told why I don’t have a curvy, voluptuous body as other Latinas at the age of 12 ruined my self-esteem. Of course I don’t look anything like them because I’m barely developing. Men like the voluptuous body and fiery essence of latina women and when they’re trying to find it in me, they get disappointed. I may not have the most curvaceous body or sexual presence but that doesn’t mean I’m not latina. Latina isn’t my personality trait or what you only think of me. I’m not meant to be a man’s fantasy. I am meant to be me.