I don’t look like Sofia Vergara. Guess what? Neither does Sofia Vergara.
J- Lo, Shakria, and even Katie del Castillo don’t look like what you’ve seen on TV. These are Latinas whose images we are bombarded with as standards or definitions of what Latinas should be. Sorry to tell you this but this is all myth. These are not what true Latinas bombshells are. These are just examples of how a good push up bra and the best makeup money can buy can fuel a stereotype that, frankly, we’ve lead you to believe because it’s easier to make money off of it than actually trying to debunk it.
This definition of being of a Latina is distorted at best and absolutely inaccurate. Ridiculously inaccurate. This appalling stereotype only exists because someone, somewhere, in some place in time, thought that women with Spanish surnames were the best and most exotic thing since the banana or cocoa.
Banana or cocoa. Yes, I took it there.
And now we have super Latinas. Bombshells. They sing, dance, act, and have photo shoots. That’s all great. There’s nothing wrong with that hustle. If I had that opportunity to make my money that way, I’d run to my next magazine cover shoot in my Louboutins, too. But here’s the thing…that’s not all there is to us. Never has been. There is so much more to being a Latina than you see on your movie and television screens or on magazine covers.
What is the Latina Bombshell? By the modern “definitions” she is sexy, sassy, loud, beautiful to the point of being obnoxious, sometimes sex-driven, and submissive. That’s the important part. She is submissive to “what is in her heart”, which in many interpretations is to her relationship partner.
Those qualities do not define me. Nor does it define my friends. Or the mothers of my friends.
Growing up, this was the stereotype I’ve had offered to me as a Latina woman. This was my only option because the goal was to attract life opportunities by shimmying my moneymaker in front of decision makers who would then take care of me some how. I needed to embrace it, society said. This was who I was and I already had two strikes against me — Black and Latina. I needed to use that exotic mix to get anywhere in life.
But in my mind, there was never a question of embracing that stereotype. There was always a certainty of rebelling against it.
That was the gift of two progressive Latino parents. The rule in the house with my Cuban father was always to speak up. The soft voice will get you no where. Speak up, Papa said. There’s a voice there that needs to be heard and mi’ja, people need to hear it.
Education was paired with sacrifice. Homework first, television second. College first, then marriage, if you chose that. Keep going. Always keep going. Stubbornness was called perseverance in my house. Adapt. Survive. Win.
I know I wasn’t the only one who was raised like this. This is what being Latina means to me.
So, because I rebel against this stereotype, here is what I’m offering in this blog post today, a new definition of the the Latina Bombshell.
Latina Bombshell = a woman of Latino descent with the following qualities: intelligence, opinionated, leadership, strength. The new Latina Bombshell uses failures as opportunities. She’s a hustler — driving business and commerce as easy as she can bat one of her eyelashes. There’s no apologies for being different because it’s an honor. Different means unique and being a trailblazer.
Actually, come to think of it, these characteristics sound familiar. This sounds like how I would describe my mom. And the more I think about it, the more it sounds like a lot of moms and my friends who are raising their own little bombshells.
Maybe the true Latina Bombshell has been there all along, we just had to get past the smoke, mirrors, and the push up bras.
Icess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. Her first book, the beginning of the Jennie Manning series, will come out next year. In addition to writing, Icess teaches fiction writing classes. To learn more, sign in and receive regular emails. (No spam ever.)