‘Hispanic Girls United’ Hashtag Smashes Ethnic Stereotypes

Women are taking to Twitter to turn the spotlight on what it means to be Latina in the United States.

(Photo: Twitter users @robneilimagery @pinuplittlebit)

Jun 27, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

They’re part of the largest minority ethnic group in the United States, and now they’re using social media to speak out about the ways they’re stereotyped and shamed.

On Thursday afternoon, the hashtag #HispanicGirlsUnited began trending on Twitter in the U.S., detailing the experiences of Hispanic women who are sounding off about narrow beauty standards, cultural expectations, sexism, and racism.

The hashtag seems to have been started on Thursday morning by Twitter user Joyce Santeliz. She’d been replying to other Twitter users with the hashtag #HowItFeelsToBeAHispanicGirl. Santeliz added #HispanicGirlsUnited to a tweet about how members of the media “talk like you’re a bad thing in this country.” Since then the hashtag has been tweeted thousands of times and has started spreading to other social media platforms, such as Instagram.

So, Why Should You Care? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 54 million Hispanics living in the United States. (The term used by the bureau refers to people with Spanish origins; “Latina,” preferred by many from South America, includes those with indigenous people among their ancestors.) That number is expected to soar to 128 million by 2060, or roughly 31 percent of the U.S. population. Forget the spicy sexpot or sexy maid stereotypes of Hispanic women in the media—a 2013 fact sheet from the Center for American Progress found they are “making significant strides in education, participation, health, and other areas.”

For example, Hispanic women are graduating from college at a faster rate than whites or any other group. They’re diving into entrepreneurship too: In 2011, nearly 800,000 were managing their own business, a 46 percent jump over five years, and a larger rate of growth than the 20 percent increase in female business owners as a whole over the same period, according to the fact sheet.

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Despite those achievements, Hispanic women are often portrayed in a one-dimensional manner. If theyre not Sofia Vergaras character from Modern Family, all push-up bra and stiletto heels, theyre freeloading Mexican women who, as South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said in 2010, cross the border, they go to the emergency room, they have a child, and that childs automatically an American citizen.

But as youll see in the tweets below, the women who are speaking up have had enough of those stereotypes.

And as this epic GIF from the movie Selena shows, dont assume that just because a woman is Hispanic, she cant afford whats on the rack at Nordstrom.

Go ahead and love J.Lo, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato—but nope, not all Hispanic women are entertainers.

Hispanic women are tired of it being cool to have body hair—unless youre Latina.

Theyve noticed that bushy eyebrows and dark lip liner are usually only celebrated in the fashion world when theyre on the faces of white models, singers, or actors.

Speaking of those chola stereotypes, Hispanic women would really like to be able to wear flannel shirts without folks assuming theyre in a gang.

Nope, theyre not all from Mexico, and theyre not all lighter-skinned.

Hispanic women have had it, too, with limited gender expectations within their own families and communities.

We shouldnt need a hashtag to tell us theres plenty to celebrate and admire about Hispanic women, but the ladies tweeting with it seem to be glad its out there.