The Pinterest pins for “Latina”, “Mexican” and “women” provided a deep well of mixed messages about this group of individuals. There were several posts that celebrated and encouraged the strength of Latina women— exemplified by the likes of Frida Kahlo and Selena Quintanilla. More common, however, were posts reinforcing negative stereotypes about them. A large amount of Pinterest posts carried themes that portrayed Latina women as feisty, aggressive or violent.
The aggressive homemakers
One of the more prominent themes in these Pinterest tags was the assertion that Latina women were moody or ill-tempered, but they made up for it by excelling at stereotypical “feminine” responsibilities. They highlight a Latina woman’s ability to cook and have a strong sexuality, reinforcing the belief that women are meant to excel at home. Along this, her ethnicity is tied to an abrasive attitude. There has long been a stereotype of the “feisty Latina” that challenges anything and anyone. These posts demonstrate these characteristics while still binding the women to traditionally feminine household roles.
Sweet and Spicy
In a similar characterization of Latina women as the previous theme, several posts portrayed them as a mixture of “sweet and spicy”. They posts demonstrated how Latina women could be kind, caring and sweet—all stereo typically feminine traits— when they wanted to be. However, this sweetness was contrasted with an aggressive, often violent side. These women are stereotyped as being kind and pleasant until something goes wrong. At which point, they are portrayed as being uncontrollable in their anger or need for revenge.
Spicy, hold the sweet
A Latina woman’s temperament was a prevalent theme in several of the Pinterest pins. While some of the themes discussed paired the stereotypical abrasive temperament with a softer trait, some left out the positive outlook altogether. Many posts about Latina women portrayed them as quick-tempered and angry by nature. These posts focus on revenge, and a Latina’s violent reaction to even the slightest of offenses. They are portrayed as manipulative, vindictive, conniving and unable to control themselves—as if their ethnicity is an immediate indicator that they should be angry.
Too much to handle
Finally, several posts highlighted a Latina’s hyper-sexuality or bold personality as a way to dominate men in a romantic relationship. These traits are portrayed as intimidating to the average man, and something only the select number of “strong” men can handle. These stereotypes can warp a viewers’ perception of a healthy relationship. Instead of a relationship built on mutual trust and respect, Latinas are thrust into the role of the aggressor who controls every relationship she enters, scares away the “weak” and requires a specific type of man to be able to handle her.
Pinterest misses the mark
One of the more alarming trends I saw throughout these posts was a positive spin put on these negative stereotypes about Latina women. These Pinterest posts make it seems as if the aggressive, violent, vindictive and controlling stereotypes put on Latinas are something to be celebrated. As if these are what give her strength. The strength of Latinas is certainly something to be celebrated, but when we associate this strength with violence or aggression, we immediately take a good thing and portray it as negative.
We are giving a false impression of what strength really is, and mislabeling an entire group of people while we do it. The “feisty” Latina stereotype is a watered-down phrase used to label them as uncontrollable and angry, which are not only untrue, but they diminish the true qualities of strength Latinas have that are not born out of aggression or violence.