Gender and Language, Vol 14, No 1 (2020)

‘Should Latinas go blond?’ Media representation and the regulation of Latina bodies and Latinas’ social and cultural practices in a beauty magazine

Deyanira Rojas-Sosa
Issued Date: 21 May 2020


In the United States, ‘Latinas’ is an ethnic category that includes a very diverse population. Since second- and third-generation Latinxs tend to be Englishdominant speakers, it is common to see publications in English that target this group. This study analyses how one of these publications, a beauty magazine for Latinas, uses different linguistic devices in their interviews and beauty advice columns to create a racially/ethnically homogeneous image of this community. My analysis focuses on this publication’s articles about hair, with particular attention to metaphors, the use of Spanish, and the indexicality of the term Latina itself. It shows that while characteristics of, and stereotypes about, Latinas are praised and celebrated, the advice offered contains instructions to regulate the Latina body to conform to beauty norms that are more valued in the United States, those associated with White women. Also, my analysis shows how this publication establishes different levels of Latinidad (Latinity) in which being too Latina represents traditional and primitive values that seem to be part of these Latinas’ imagined community’s heritage but not their own. I argue that these advice articles are intended to discursively create a Latina body acceptable to mainstream America; that while attempting to create a homogeneous image of Latinas, the publication paints a picture of tolerance toward Latinas that many of them do not experience; and that the articles do not take into account racial, social, ethnic and sexual differences among Latinas. I show how instead this publication seeks to regulate the Latina body and establish which Latinas’ social and cultural practices are acceptable for White America, so that they do not disrupt the predominant social order.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.36302


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