Young Latinas Are Starved For Role Models
By Laura Donnelly Gonzalez, co-founder Latinitas
We know the archetype of the anti-hero of literature, the “anti-Christs” in horror cinema. Now, a new literal icon saturates American pop culture and soon, the American lexicon: the Anti-Role Model. I’m going to focus on the female gender anti-role models riddling the airwaves with banality, uselessness, excessive wealth and self-sexualizing. She evolves not in her humanity, but in her branding.
The anti-role model is epitomized in Kim Kardashian and her look-alike sisters and “poorer man” versions donning Old Navy commercials. I first lauded Kardashian’s omnipotence in media, that the United States was finally seeing beauty in a “morena” shade with wide hips and giant nalgas, a renaissance per se, of J-Lo’s pique in the early “oughts.” I was hopeful that the blonde-haired/blue-eyed anorexic perpetuation of American Beauty was on its way to retirement, and this more representative image of the American majority was at large. She was shapely with darker skin and was becoming what Jennifer Aniston’s “Friends” haircut was for my peers in my 20s.
The problem lay in that hundreds of Latina girls we are meeting weekly in Latinitas, a non-profit based in Central and West Texas focused on empowering young Latinas using media and technology, are still naming Kim Kardashian as a role model. Quick, break out the media literacy lesson! Though, our girls were able to eventually delineate between a role model and a celebrity icon, thousands still aspire to Kardashian status, having tossed their “That’s So Raven” and “Witches of Waverly Place” heroes aside for the seemingly more glamorous and celebrated sex kitten.
So, though Kardashian, in some ways, made invisible-feeling brown girls visible again, the camera lens documenting this rich girl with a checkered sexual past has created a loyalty amongst Hispanic girls and teens to every dunce-lie thing she is saying, doing and marrying.
The problem lies in that there are remarkable actual Latina role models out there doing things of note from our first Latina Supreme Court Justice to lesser famous chicas running for office, creating public art, acting as social workers, blogging daily or are CEOs. Smart, ambitious girls of color are stuck with a continuous the single and vacuous image of Kim Kardashian on their TV screen, advertisements, cell phone updates – permeating their subconscious, conscious to a level of eye-gouging.
So here’s my open letter to Kim:
Dear Ms. Kardashian,
Now that you and your behind have enjoyed an ample 15 minutes of fame, a rise, then fall from good graces as your reality TV wedding soon became the fictitious narrative it actually is — can you now go Greta Garbo on us? For the sake of Hispanic girls distracted by your popularity, who are missing stories of the real heroes out there making a difference in their lives without them even knowing?
Such as Dolores Huerta, Soledad O’Brien, Salma Hayak, The Dream Act teens, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, the women that lead Latinitas’ clubs and so many others who could have used that $28 million you spent on your wedding to change thousands of lives?
Laura Donnelly Gonzalez
Laura Donnelly Gonzalez is one of the founders of Latinitas, a digital magazine made for and by young Latinas with outreach programming that empowers Hispanic girls and teens using media and technology addressing the critical state of Latina girls today.
[Photo By david_shankbone]