From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture

From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture

From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture

From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture


From the exuberant excesses of Carmen Miranda in the "tutti frutti hat" to the curvaceous posterior of Jennifer Lopez, the Latina body has long been a signifier of Latina/o identity in U. S. popular culture. But how does this stereotype of the exotic, erotic Latina "bombshell" relate, if at all, to real Latina women who represent a wide spectrum of ethnicities, national origins, cultures, and physical appearances? How are ideas about "Latinidad" imagined, challenged, and inscribed on Latina bodies? What racial, class, and other markers of identity do representations of the Latina body signal or reject?

In this broadly interdisciplinary book, experts from the fields of Latina/o studies, media studies, communication, comparative literature, women's studies, and sociology come together to offer the first wide-ranging look at the construction and representation of Latina identity in U. S. popular culture. The authors consider such popular figures as actresses Lupe V lez, Salma Hayek, and Jennifer Lopez; singers Shakira and Celia Cruz; and even the Hispanic Barbie doll in her many guises. They investigate the media discourses surrounding controversial Latinas such as Lorena Bobbitt and Marisleysis Gonz lez. And they discuss Latina representations in Lupe Solano's series of mystery books and in the popular TV shows El Show de Cristinaand Laura en Am rica. This extensive treatment of Latina representation in popular culture not only sheds new light on how meaning is produced through images of the Latina body, but also on how these representations of Latinas are received, revised, and challenged.


Myra Mendible

Miss Lopez's rounded posterior is credited with making curvy bottoms
trendy again and is said by American plastic surgeons to have created
a demand for silicone buttock implants.

Daily Mail (LONDON), February 27, 2003

Despite the promise implicit in the title of this collection of essays, there is no such thing as "the Latina body." While the words evoke a set of predictable responses ("she" is hot-blooded, tempestuous, hypersexual, and in current manifestations has a big butt), "the "Latina body" is a convenient fiction—a historically contingent, massproduced combination of myth, desire, location, marketing, and political expedience. Mediated through various forms of visual representation and discourse, "the Latina body" functions within a social and cultural taxonomy that registers but an echo of the clamor, complexity, and variety of women who embody Latina identities. Building on a feminist assertion that "woman" exists as a social construct subject to renegotiations and mediations, this anthology proceeds from the assumption that "the Latin woman" is a doubly inscribed fantasy—a multiply infected and variably experienced category. Implicit in this assumption is the understanding that several forces converge in producing acculturated, gendered bodies and that these forces have very real consequences for Latinas in the United States and abroad.

This book explores some of the ways that a shared understanding of Latina sexuality, subjectivity, and difference is constructed and represented. Several related concerns informed its conception, though an overriding objective was to respond critically to the "conspicuous consumption" of Latina bodies realized via marketing and entertainment vectors.

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