What is missing from media representations is not necessarily an indicator of that which is not present in our culture but rather a sign of that which we desire to ignore, extirpate, or marginalize.
— Latina/os and the Media. Ahgharad N. Valdivia.

“Jennifer López les dice no a los implantes de pompis” (“Jennifer López says No to booty implants”). This article published on the HuffPost Voces, the Hufftington Post Spanish-speaking edition, serves as a good example of a generalized content and portrayal of Latinas usually spread by the U.S. media.

Promotional poster of "Devious Maids", a TV series executive produced by Eva Longoria.

Promotional poster of "Devious Maids", a TV series executive produced by Eva Longoria.

According to a study conducted by Teresa Correa comparing the portrayal of Latinas in the English-speaking daily newspaper The Miami Herald with its Spanish-speaking counterpart, El Nuevo Herald, “a generalized image of Latinas has pervaded the mass media: Latinas are represented overly hyper sexualized as well as religious, conservative and family oriented. They have a Spanish accent and a homogeneous look: tan, dark hair and curvilinear.”

The homogeneous portrayal of Latinas disseminated through media differs from reality. 

There are 25 million Latina women in the U.S., and the number will increase to 51 million by 2050, making up 25% of the total female population in the country. Hence, they are a heterogeneous group with different levels of assimilation in the U.S., dissimilar cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and diverse physical builds, raging from Afro-Latinas to indigenous and European descents. 

Despite this fact, images of curvy and hyper sexualized Latinas pervade magazines, the news and the film industry. This overly framing stereotype has implications not only in the way society views Latinas, but also in how Latinas view themselves.  

If the mass media has a prominent role in the dissemination and reproduction of stereotypes and racial and ethnic simplifications, two questions afloat: Does the portrayal of Latinas disseminated by mainstream media respond to their reality? Which are the effects of that depiction in Latinas’ real-life? 

The WIMIM Project

Patricia Valoy is one of the participants of  Who is Missing in Media?

Patricia Valoy is one of the participants of  Who is Missing in Media?

Who is missing in Media? is an on-going project aiming to look into the Latina identity promoted and disseminated through the mainstream media. The project will explore absent narratives in the generalized media discourse by means of first-hand testimonies of their protagonists: Latina women from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Both U.S. and foreign-born Latinas will be questioned about their identity and their widespread portrayal in the media.

The goal is to broaden the scope of the media regarding Latina diversity, avoiding an oversimplification and the stereotypification that limit Latina’s capacity to fulfill their potential in a wide range of political, economical and social aspects. Learn more about the project.

The WIMIM project will encourage the inclusion of Latina diversity and non-discrimination in the daily media through the implementation of three project phases: the conduction of interviews with Latinas; the creation of a Media Observatory; and the production of a Multimedia Guidelines for Journalists. Learn more about the phases here.