Talking about Latin American women automatically leads many to think of beauty pageants, curves, and tans. It is as if our bodies were a format ready to copy and paste.
These conceptions have done serious damage to the mental health and self-appreciation of our women, who for decades have subjected their bodies to extreme treatments in order to be perceived as that unrealistic model replicated in the media.
However, with the advent of social media, the reality is even more thorny.
From an early age, our girls and teenagers are exposed to a string of concepts and stereotypes that are more than impossible; they are unhealthy.
Did you know that 1 in 2 girls say toxic beauty advice on social media causes low self-esteem?
This is the message behind the Dove Self-Esteem Project, an initiative that provides free tools to help young people navigate the effects of toxic beauty stereotypes on self-esteem. Their resources include tools for parents, mentors, teachers, and youth leaders, and are free to download and proven to build positive body confidence.
That’s why we decided to join forces and debunk five Latina beauty myths perpetuated on social media.
‘The ideal hair is straight’
If we take a look at Latin American popular culture, we have few images of women proudly wearing their natural hair. Even the queen of salsa, Celia Cruz, often hid her hair in colorful wigs.
This has resulted in a proliferation of products and images on social media of Afro-Latina women with their hair subjected to a thousand and one procedures to make them straight, when, in reality, nothing is more beautiful than natural Afro hair.
‘Latina women are naturally tanned’
False. In Latin America, there is a multiplicity of skin colors. Thanks to our natural richness, sun exposure varies according to each region.
However, too often, we see stereotypes of the perennial tan on social media, which convinces our girls that their naturally imperfect skins are something to get rid of.
The beauty of curves and the guitar body
No, not all of us Latinas have hips like JLo. In fact, there are as many bodies as there are women on our continent.
Slim, curvy, with prominent breasts, or without them, each body is beautiful in itself. But if we subject our young women to constant comparison with a single model, it will be increasingly difficult for them to learn to see true beauty.
‘The ideal woman has no body hair’
No, this is not about a feminist campaign. It’s about understanding that all bodies are beautiful, with or without body hair.
Did you know that body hair removal is a 20th-century phenomenon?
At least 93-99% of women reported removing body hair regularly in 2018. However, few know that the practice actually began with razor companies in the 1920s who needed to advertise to a larger consumer base.
Even if Ovid was already talking about contempt for “legs bristling with coarse hair” in the 1st century BC, it is impossible to pretend to perpetuate a stereotype invented by men in a primitive society, much less on social media.
‘Latinas should look like a sex bomb’
We can’t even imagine the pressure social media must exert on girls and young Latinas who see how their race is perennially associated with hashtags of “sexy” without even really understanding what that implies.
The hypersexualization of Latina women is a product of movies and television. Now, with social media, our young women are exposed to this archaic model that forces them to skip stages of their lives and subject their bodies to unnecessary transformations.
What if, instead of perpetuating these myths, we detoxify our feed? Visit the Dove Self-Esteem Project to learn where to start!