If you’ve ever done a Google image search for the word Latina, you’ve encountered it—pornographic photos, T and A, and more. And no, we’re not talking Jennifer Lopez’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Oscars or her V magazine cover shoot. Do a Google, Bing or Yahoo image search and sure, you will find some familiar Latinas: JLo, Salma, Eva Longoria, Eva Mendes and some Latina magazine covers. But right there, next to one of the highest ranking most respected Latinas in the land—US Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayer—is well, lots of A!
Many Latina bloggers tweet, blog and post images with the #Latina hashtag. As such, you’d expect images of Latinas in all forms to show up on your screen: students, wives, mothers, activists, artists, musicians. But much of what you get under #Latina are pornographic images.
But Latinas are working to change that. There’s a movement afoot called Let’s Take Back Our Tags! In a steady stream of Tumblr sites, Latinas all over are forming a grassroots movement to stop the abundance of fetishizing images of naked Latinas posted under the Latina hashtag.
“I’m sure most if not all ethnic groups/cultures, that we as women of color represent, are inundated with images that do not reflect who we really are, or at least play into stereotypes, myths, sexist, and colonial imagery,” wrote Tierracita, a grad student and activist from the Tumblr site called Turquoise Traipsing.
As a Latina blogger, it really bothers me that I can’t do a simple Google image search for images of Latinas without the strictest setting on my browser. A Google search for Asian woman turns up a few “hot, sexy Asian” women photos as well, but not the proliferation that Latina does. This is not the case if you do a Google search image for “white woman” or “black woman,” where you get a variety of non-sexual images.
“These images make me sick, not because they feature nudity and sex, but because they perpetuate harmful stereotypes about my people,” says Breakdownbreakthrough, another Tumblr site supporting Take Back Our Tags.
Mamiverse’s own VP and digital editorial director Sylvia Martinez was quoted last August in a Mashable story about: Search stereotypes: What web content reveals about cultural biases. “The online stereotype of the hyper-sexualized Latina is simply not true.” She said that Mamiverse was launched, in part, to help fill the websphere with “more content that is truly reflective of who we are.”
“Mamiverse is committed to supporting efforts to Take Back Our Tags,” Martinez said.
I sincerely hope we can work to achieve this because I struggle with the fact that this is the climate in which I’m raising my two young daughters, ages 6 and 8. What will the online world be like when they are teenagers? Adults? It’s a scary thought, particularly since our children are growing up tech savvy from the womb! It is challenging enough trying to raise them to have a positive body image in a culture that worships extreme beauty and hyper sexuality.
This is why I think the Take Back Our Tags movement is important and deserves attention from all Latinas online. Together, we can turn the tide. We can make the word “Latina” synonymous with strength, beauty, poise, culture and health. How can we make this happen? By flooding news feeds and dashboards with positive images of Latinas in an effort to edge out all of the negativity surrounding the #Latina hashtag.
Latinas are not your whores, your playthings, your objects of lust and desire. We are mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, artists, seamstresses, entrepreneurs, actors, politicians, doctors, lawyers, musicians, writers, designers and valedictorians, to name a few. Keep your nasty images of people of color away from me and my daughters! Let’s take our tags back. Next time you post a photo, a status update or tweet, use the #Latina hashtag so we can reverse this awful trend.