Representation of Latinas in American media is problematic because it mostly relies on a limited set of stereotypes that perpetuate an idea of the Latina as embodying one of two opposing identities: a hyper- sexualized exotic object or a desexualized Other. This usually takes form in the feisty, sexy Latina, or the immigrant maid. A casual acceptance of this mythical binary is dangerous because it forces actual Latina women into rigidly defined roles where the desired appearance and function of their bodies has been decided for them.
My aim was not to fix American media’s diversity problem, but instead to use satire and design to express my own social criticism. I designed and screen-printed Fantasia Latina T-shirts that present three common Latina conventions: the Rumbera, the Chola, and the Maid. With the book How to Be a Latina, I broke down the layers that make up a stereotypical “Latina” in order to show that this identity—a combination of specific styling, language, and behavioral choices—can be performed. For my final investigation, I created a satirical character, Mami, a Cuban-American vlogger, and branded her web presence and her series of lifestyle videos. Mami, through her exaggerated embodiment of the stereotypical Latina is meant to critique the expectations imposed upon the Latin American woman. Throughout the projects and across media, my goal was to draw viewers in through humor, leaving them to enjoy and then question whether ethnic stereotypes are real or a set of characteristics that can be performed.