A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a group of people. It takes the experience of a few (or even many), and applies it to everyone from that group. It is unfair, wrong, and undermines individuality within racial and cultural groups. We Latinos have a lot of stereotypes associated with us. It can make a person feel ostracized to be excluded from some of these notions, and offended to be included in others. Here are 12 of these various stereotypes, that sadly function to put Latinos in one homogenized box.
That You Speak Spanish
Being from a certain ethnicity, or country, doesn’t automatically mean you speak its language. A lot of us grew up understanding Spanish, while responding in English. Others of us are completely fluent, or have become so over the years. Others don’t know one word in Spanish at all. Knowing Spanish is not a prerequisite for being Latino, nor does it make anyone less so.
That You Have Dark Hair, Skin, and Eyes OR?
Something that the world at large, and especially Hollywood, still needs to process is that Latinos come in all races, skin colors, hair colors, and eye colors. Latino itself is not a race — it is an ethnicity. Therefore, there are Latinos of all races, such as Afro-Latinos, Asian-Latinos, Arab-Latinos, and more. So, you can have blonde hair and blue eyes and be Latino, and have black hair, black skin, and dark brown eyes, and also be Latino.
That You Are a Good Dancer (except for Zumba)
This is one of those positive stereotypes that turns out not to be true. Not every Latino can salsa, rumba, bachata, and get down in a variety of dance styles. We, like the rest of humanity, have peeps with two left feet as well.
That You Have an Accent
I will agree that a lot of Latinos do have accents, and they’re mostly beautiful! But not every Latina is going to talk to you like she’s Sofia Vergara (even she exaggerates her accent for Modern Family). We may have accents, or have an accent when saying certain words, or none at all.
That You Are Sexy, “Spicy,” and Have Curves
I think a lot of Latinas struggle with this stereotype. Who doesn’t want to be seen as sexy and attractive? But when that crosses the line into a stereotype, a fetishization, and what leads to assault against women, it can be dangerous. The truth is that come in all shapes and sizes, and even if we do have curves, it doesn’t mean we automatically are flaunting them, or want to. The spicy thing is annoying as well. We aren’t condiments — we are people.
That You Have a Temper
Part of the idea that Latinas are spicy is that we have a crazy temper. We are jealous, possessive, and have no boundaries when it comes to angry words or physical manifestations of our anger. This stereotype is even accepted and pushed within the Latino community. With men, they are also portrayed as jealous, possessive, quick to fight anyone who looks at their girl, macho, and abusive. With every ethnicity, there are men and women who act in all kinds of ways. We are all not exactly the same.
That You Have a Big Family
People will automatically assume you have a huge family if you are Latino. That you have numerous siblings, tios and tias, and countless cousins. News flash: some Latinos are only children. Or have very small families. Or live without any family at all.
That You Have Kids (Most Likely a Bunch of Them)
Part of the stereotype that leads many to believe that all Latino families are massive comes from the preconceived notion that all Latinas have children — and a lot of them at that. Add to that the insensitive idea that Latinos are super fertile (many Latinos and Latinas struggle with fertility issues). While there are many Latinas who have a bunch of kids, some have one or two, or zero (and that’s ok!). Your ethnicity or race doesn’t predetermine how many children you are expected to have.
That You Are Automatically Mexican
While it’s great to be Mexican, all Latinos are not. Many people assume that if you are Latino, that automatically means you are Mexican. There are over 20 Latino countries, so take that into consideration when meeting a Latino and making assumptions of their background.
That You Can Cook and Clean Like a Pro
Who came up with this one?! This is another great assumption, but it’s not true. Latinas aren’t born with the magical ability to cook and clean like experts. And we are all not raised to learn how to either. Even those who learn can fail miserably, time and time again (and that’s fine!). Cooking and cleaning is not a prerequisite for women , and that extends itself to Latinas.
That You Are Either Super Hard Working or Lazy
Another stereotype, well actually two, that surround Latinos is that we are either super hard workers or perpetually lazy. The first concept is a great compliment, but even positive stereotypes are just that — stereotypes. And no one likes to be called lazy (or believed to be).
That You Are Less Educated
If a Latino speaks well, and uses impressive words, they aren’t trying to be white, or are “white washed.” If you meet a Latino, don’t assume they didn’t go to college; or if they did, don’t assume they were the first to do so. While there are many fabulous Latinos who are holding it down as the first in their family to have the opportunity to pursue higher education, there are other Latinos who are one of many in their family to do so!