The American Dream, we all want it. I, along with other Latinas, have dreamed of achieving the highest potential and going for the gold. I have also had to face certain expectations and stereotypes of being a Latina woman and mother, while living in the ever-evolving expectations that society has placed within American and Latin cultures.
My mother did not finish college and her mother did not finish high school. As many Latina women, we were brought up with the expectations placed upon us of learning how to cook, clean, look presentable and serve our husbands. I wanted more, and there are many Latina mothers and women in my position that want the same thing.
From my experience growing up in a border town in South Texas that is largely Hispanic, the Latina mother was expected to carry the weight of the domestic home life. The husbands went to work, came home and even though the wives may have worked as well, they were still expected to pack their lunches, iron their husband’s clothes, and be the only parent cooking, cleaning, changing diapers and raising the children. The “machismo” culture was prevalent in my upbringing and in many Hispanic homes, and the stereotypes for Hispanic women have remained constant for years.
Latina Mothers Breaking Stereotypes
First, lets address the most common stereotypes; we are fiery, come from large families, have kids at a young age, have thick accents and are largely uneducated. With movies and shows like Maid in Manhattan, Ugly Betty and Modern Family, it is easy to see these stereotypes are alive and well and commonly accepted as factual in society.
But, the expectations are evolving. The stereotype is finally cracking.
A New Generation of Latina Women
There has been a shift for the Latina woman. What do I credit this to? In my opinion, access to the internet, the rise of social media and the increased access to education have all contributed to the breaking of the stereotypes and expectations we Latinas have faced throughout the years.
The internet is now readily accessible for almost everyone. Access to information, seeing Latina leaders in any field can be searched at a moment’s notice with a phone in your back pocket. Thanks to the internet and social media, the ability to online network, access support groups, and finding your own support system have all been advanced over the years. Before the internet and social media your influence was limited. Now, it is virtually anyone at almost any time.
It is easier for Latina women to seek support, guidance, and education on any subject now versus our parent’s and our grandparent’s generation. We can “follow” role models or subjects that inspire us, whereas before we could only see what was showing on TV in our living room or take a drive out to the local library if we wanted to research something. The ability to stay in contact with people outside of a long-distance phone call and have real time access to information are now the norm.
Latina women can now find more available resources to help seek out their dreams, and the inspiration and confidence to do so. The ability to join the world outside a local area have made it easier to find a pathway to success and break any stereotype that have been set before us.
The expectation has changed because we have changed. Our society has changed. We no longer are confined as we once were to the gender roles that have been placed on us in our cultures, and that is a step in the right direction. We can define our own lives, find our own paths, and break our own class ceiling.
I know my story isn’t unique. I know there are many women out there like me. I also know that my experience is different than others even in my own culture. I’d like to inspire conversations and learn about how your life is similar or different than mine. Reach out to me!