These Photos Put The Curvy Latina Stereotype To Rest Once And For All
Latinas are curvaceous mamis with plumped breasts, small waists, thick thighs, hips that don’t lie and a tremendo behind – at least that’s the way we’ve been portrayed. In reality, we come in all shapes and sizes, from fly flacas to big babes, making the curvy Latina stereotype inaccurate at best and harmful at worst.
Like every other beauty ideal, the voluptuous myth, though sometimes praised for being “healthy,” can be dangerous for those who don’t measure up. It’s yet another unattainable standard that places a woman’s worth – and Latinidad – on every arch of her body. Not fulfilling this stereotype can lead to body image and identity issues, which can lead to serious mental illnesses like eating disorders.
That’s why it’s crucial that we challenge the curvy Latina myth. We have to remind ourselves, and the rest of society, that our bra cup sizes range from AA to off the charts, and that the coveted Latina ass ain’t always as round as J.Lo’s or Tahiry’s. Here, 15 proud and poppin’ non-curvy Latinas do just that.
Stefany Ruiz, Salvadoran, Washington, D.C.
Courtesy of Stefany Ruiz
“I grew up feeling like if I was not thin, if my boobs didn’t come in right or if my butt wasn’t the right kind of round, I wouldn’t be successful in life – I wouldn’t be successful as a woman. I spent parts of my youth compensating for curvy features that I was ‘missing’ by accentuating what I did have: nice hair and full lips. I taught myself to ignore the fact that I had belly rolls, flabby arms and cellulite in front of others, but inside I obsessed over it. On the outside, everyone admired my confidence; on the inside, I was anxious and insecure. The curvy Latina myth needs to be debunked so that Latinas don’t live a life that hangs on the belief that our worth is only in our physical beauty and femininity.
We are independent bosses who make things happen on our own. We are out here killing it in science, art, politics and every other field. I learned that my power doesn’t lie in the shape of the curves on my body but in the essence of my spirit and the actions of my life. If we move past the stereotypes, the world will see that power, too.”
Yvette Montoya, Mexican-Chilean, Los Angeles
Courtesy of Yvette Montoya
“Growing up, I always felt like there was either too much or not enough of me. I have a thicker body type, but I’m more muscular than curvy. I don’t have a tiny waist, big boobs, a big butt or wide round hips. But those are literally all of the things people associate with being Latina. For a while, I thought, ‘Well, where does that leave me?’ I never saw women with my body type, my skin tone or my hair type on TV – especially in Latino media – and I just thought it meant that I was ugly.
I felt like I needed to have this sexy thick voluptuous body in order to be Latina. It made me really insecure. I had to check myself and recognize that stereotypes are designed to make us doubt ourselves, to make us unconfident and to keep us from our power as women. I am who I am. This body is my vehicle in the world, and I’m just so fortunate that I’m healthy.”
Jada Gomez, Puerto Rican, Honduran and African American, New York
Courtesy of Jada Gomez
“As an Afro-Latina, I always thought I needed to have the curves and the booty I’d always hear about in rap songs. Although I have some curves, I’ve got a bit of a flat bum. But in college, I began to really accept that I’m shaped differently, and there’s no right way to be Black or Latina. I’d love to see this myth debunked so that young girls won’t feel the need to alter their beautiful bodies. So many women are injecting toxic chemicals into their bodies to achieve this ‘ideal,’ and that simply doesn’t have to be. We are so much more powerful than any stereotype. What we say and how we live is so much more important than looking like a Coca-Cola bottle. Even Coca-Cola bottles don’t look the same anymore.”
Cristina Arreola, Mexican, New York (via Texas)
Courtesy of Cristina Arreola
“I’ve spent a lot of time defending my ‘Latina-ness’ to others – but mostly to myself. I don’t want to discount the amount of privilege that comes with my skin tone and body shape, but it has also led to a lot of self-doubt. I ask myself, ‘If I don’t fit the stereotype of what a Latina should look like and I don’t speak Spanish, am I really even Latina?’ I’ve also suffered with an eating disorder since high school, and much of that is influenced by both the fact that I feel my body shape doesn’t fit into the ‘ideal white body’ stereotype (thin, toned, no stretch marks or cellulite) or the ‘ideal Latina body’ stereotype (curvy, big boobs, big butt, also no cellulite or stretch marks).
It’s an issue that I’ll be working on for a long time. This stereotype is so, so dangerous. Placing the weight of an ‘ideal’ body shape upon someone based on their ethnicity is a recipe for self-doubt, disordered eating and cultural confusion. I want Latinas of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies, and I want the world to accept that Latinas comes in all shapes and sizes.”
Julisa Jaq Basilis, Dominican Jew, Philadelphia
Photo Credit: IVYESI
“I constantly have people question and refute my ‘dominicaness.’ ‘You don’t like hot sauce?’ ‘But you aren’t fluent in Spanish,’ ‘But you’re mixed, though,’ they say. The curvy Latina stereotype, however, is one that’s particularly frustrating because it’s also sexist. The stereotype is taken as an invitation for people to feel like they can discuss me sexually or talk about my sexuality or touch my body. It’s uncomfortable and almost always accompanied by some sort of unwanted come-on or harassment. I don’t understand how my speaking in Spanish on the phone is an appropriate segue into talking about my ass and how I can’t really be ‘Mexican’ because I don’t look like Jennifer Lopez – huh?!
But what I hate most about it honestly is how it has been internalized in our culture, and how it creates separation and tension between fellow Latinxs. Weight and body image are definitely points of tension in my Dominican family, and I feel it often creates competitive or insecure energy between sisters, mothers and primas. We are all subconsciously trying to uphold this unreachable fabricated standard that was created to oppress us, not empower us. We have to work to tear down this internalized oppression that pits us against ourselves and one another, and one way to do that is to squad up with a group of badass, confident, independent womxn. There is nothing in the world that makes me feel more magical, empowered and safe.”
Sonia Guiñansaca, Ecuadorian, New York
Photo Credit: Rommy Torrico
“As a migrant queer Latinx, I’ve grown up not seeing myself reflected in the media. During my teen years, when my body was developing, I wished that I could see a reflection of what my body was becoming. The closest I got to seeing myself, my type of body, was when America Ferrera made her grand debut in ‘Gotta Kick it Up.’ But that was not enough. As a young Latina, I had to balance the over-saturated sexualization of my body and at the same time the invisibility of it. The curvy Latina stereotype makes no room for a range of bodies, a range of body sizes, a range of style, a range of agency or a range of autonomy. The curvy Latina stereotype taught me that my body was only valued for the boobs and ass I had, but it was also a particular set of boobs and ass: thick on the hips but skinny on the waist and arms. Any deviation from that meant that I was not worthy of desirability, not worthy of visibility and not worthy of being called beautiful.
The curvy Latina stereotype harms everyone. It makes young Latinas feel lonely in their experience and makes young Latinas alienate themselves from their bodies. It says that we can only exist in one type of way: to uplift a particular sexualization, a particular gaze in this country. How beautiful it would be for all of us to exist and see our selves mirrored in all the ways we could be, all the ways our bodies jiggle, all the ways our bodies survive and all the ways we are brilliant. Debunking this myth allows us to finally exist in the multiple ways our bodies are. It also allows room for us to be understood beyond just curves but rather as complex multi-layered beings. My body may or may not have hips, but my body is fierce either way.”
Lety Garcia, Dominican and Mexican, Austin (via Houston)
Courtesy of Lety Garcia
“I have always been a petite girl, so I was constantly reminded that I didn’t have a booty or ‘curves for men to grab.’ That took a toll on my self-esteem because I wished that I had everything Latina women were exoticized for. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t born for the shallow consumption of men, and that I wasn’t put on this earth to be ‘pretty.’
Once I had my confidence restored, it felt as if I was on a cloud because I didn’t care what anybody thought of me, and that’s a huge power to have. I want everyone to feel confident in their own bodies, throw societal standards out the window and reclaim their time. We’re put on this earth to move mountains, not satisfy shallow likes.”
Kayla Velez, Puerto Rican, New York
Courtesy of Kayla Velez
“Growing up, I admired my mother’s and grandmothers’ very voluptuous bodies. As I hit puberty and started to develop, I realized I was pretty flat in all the ‘wrong’ areas. When I went to high school, I was surrounded by Dominican and Puerto Rican friends who were all very curvy and full in the ‘right’ areas. Almost every Latina I knew was curvaceous. I always wondered why I did not inherit those big breasts and butt. For a long time, I felt less Latina because when someone thinks of a Latina the first image that comes to mind is J.Lo or Sofia Vergara, and that just wasn’t me.
However, I understand now that curvy is only one type of body shape being shown and glorified in the media. Latinas come in all shapes and sizes, and we should celebrate and acknowledge all of them. This myth needs to go because it makes girls feel like they have to live up to something that they can’t, and that might push them to obtain plastic surgery to feel more Latina. Latina should not be a single-sided word because we are all so different and multifaceted.”
andrayah del rosario, Colombian and Mexican, New York
Photo Credit: Mylan Torres
“The exotic, Coke-bottle shape, small waist and big hips box that all Latinas are told to check off was a big blow to my self-esteem growing up. I’ve always been ‘gordita,’ but never the right type of gordita. My fat wasn’t in my butt or my boobs. It’s (still) mostly in my torso and back, places where fat isn’t ‘acceptable.’ As much as I loved my Latinidad, and still do, I struggled with the fact that I didn’t fit the mold that Latinas were supposed to fit into. I spent so many years trying to make myself smaller and sexier, but through a lot of self-love and self-reflection, I’ve accepted that I’m Latina because of who I am, not because of my body. Any and all stereotypes are extremely wrong and damaging.
There is no such thing as a ‘good stereotype.’ All the time and energy that was spent on hating my body could have gone toward school and hobbies. By perpetuating that ‘real Latinas’ are only a specific type of curvy or sexy really diminishes us to our bodies and does not account for our intelligence and other gifts we bring to this world. We are so much more than just our bodies.”
Jenny Lorenzo, Cuban, Los Angeles (via Miami)
Photo Credit: JD Renes Photography
“Growing up in Miami, it was frowned upon to not have curves as a Cuban woman. I got comments like, ‘If you’re Cuban, how come you don’t have a big booty?’ or ‘You’re the skinniest Latina I’ve ever seen!’ or the ever-so-popular, ‘Ay, que flaquencia! Tienes que comer, niña!’ When it comes to auditions, I usually have to try out for white-passing roles because I don’t fit the category of what Hollywood perceives to be Latina.
The pressures to have an hourglass figure and, ahem, certain assets, has made me feel less sexy. But I’m learning to overcome that. I love being petite and fun-sized. People like to put Latinos into one box. We’re all supposed to eat the same food, listen to the same music, have the same skin color and body type. BUT, NO! We come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Latinos are an incredibly diverse people.”
Jassmine Soto, Mexican, Fort Worth, Texas
Courtesy of Jassmine Soto
“When I was growing up, I felt like I never hit puberty because I didn’t fit the curvy Latina stereotype. I never grew into the way the media portrayed us, so I always felt I looked like a child next to other Latina women. Not only did I feel like I didn’t fit in, but I also felt inferior.
As a Black Latina, it was double the burden because the curvy stereotype has been placed on Black women and Latinas. This myth should be debunked because, as cliché as it sounds, we come in all shapes and sizes. Body positivity is as much about feeling good about ourselves, inside and out, as it is about fighting harmful stereotypes.”
Elise Pérez, Dominican and Puerto Rican, Washington D.C. (via Orlando, Fla.)
Courtesy of Elise Pérez
“The curvy stereotype is one of many myths prescribed to Latinas that has made me feel distant from my own culture. I don’t see myself in my Latina friends, in my family or in the curvy Latinas so prominent in the media. I look at these Latina babes and all their curves, and I think they are amazing. I think, ‘That’s what I should look like.’ But there is no one way for a Latina to look. Striving to attain this archetype can be so damaging, but yet it’s not a narrative in body positivity conversations.
Latinas, like many people of color, are often put into categories. The stereotype that all Latinas look the same, that we all fit into a physical mold, is extremely problematic. I think this comes largely from being a woman and how we are thought of as having a singular identity. We’re not afforded the individuality of men, and more specifically white men. When this categorization intersects with cultural identity, too, we are left with these harmful stereotypes that erase so many different kinds of people within a specific culture. Like anybody else, Latinas come in varying shapes, colors and sizes. I should never have to question my Latina identity and neither should anyone else.”
Connie Chavez, Peruvian, New York
Credit: Sugar Jean-Pierre Sanchez
“The curvy Latina stereotype has been an unattainable beauty standard forced upon me by society and reinforced by my mother, who always wanted to see me skinny and curvy. For her, if I was these things, I was beautiful. So I believed her. I would look at curvy women and only see beauty. Then, I would look at my body and see ugly. We are force-fed a narrative that all Latinas have curves like Iris Chacon, Selena and Salma Hayek, and that this is the object of every man’s desire.
But as a teenager, I looked more like plankton. ‘What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I have curves,’ I’d ask myself, angrily. I had very low self-esteem, which still filters through today. It’s taken a lot for me to get to where I am. Thankfully, we are moving toward more diverse and honest representations of the community, and I think – hope – that will help younger generations love and embrace themselves from the start.”
Sabrina Rodriguez, Dominican, New York
Courtesy of Sabrina Rodriguez
“I come from a family where the women came in all shapes, sizes and skin tones. Because of that, I was taught to love myself and my body. But the confidence instilled in me during my youth doesn’t mean the curvy stereotype isn’t damaging. I do think that the myth of the curvy Latina should be debunked because we all look different. We Latinas, curvy, flaca, gay, straight, morenita, whatever, should all get love! Latinas are bomb … period!”
Anesat Leon-Guerrero, Mexican, Indiana (via Oregon)
Courtesy of Anesat Leon-Guerrero
“My perception of beauty derived from the novelas I would watch with my mother and sister. Most of the women had pear-like or hourglass body shapes. Meanwhile, my body was described as a ‘ruler,’ straight down. I was body-shamed in my youth for not having breasts like my mom or a bubble butt like my aunts. I always thought I would ‘grow’ them once I turned older, but that never came. In my adulthood, I’ve also been shamed, though mostly by white men who exotify me.
My passion and personality, they suggest, are too loud for a flaca. This curvy myth must be debunked because it’s affecting the self-esteem of all Latinas, especially younger girls who are more vulnerable to media. As I look back at photos of myself taken during my childhood and high school days, I realize how beautiful I really was, but my mind and heart were clouded with insecurities and unhappiness that I hated my body. Young Latinas should not have to worry about changing their bodies to feel appreciated or loved. They should be focusing on their goals and happiness, not on looking like novela stars.”
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