Why the Esquire Sofía Vergara Interview Fails: Perpetuating the “Hot Latina Sex Object”

Esquire magazine is not a publication I read but it was brought to my attention because everyone was making a fuss over how beautiful Sofia Vergara looked on its new cover. Yes, she is a gorgeous Colombian actress who would look amazing on the cover of any magazine. Then as I began reading an excerpt I was immediately offended by the interviewer's sexist and racist line of questioning. It was as though he was checking off a list of slurs: loud; sexy; dances but doesn't cook; and she cannot possibly be intelligent. Was he really confusing her for the character she plays on TV?

I have no idea what university he took journalism courses from but these are a few of his questions.

"Where's the line for a Latin woman between being beautiful and being slutty?"

(The question objectifies women.  No woman has to be beautiful, sexy for anyone much less be called slutty.)

and then in response to Sophia's answer to that question:

"But that would suggest that a Latina always knows what's right."

(Offensively insinuating a lack of intelligence among Latinas.)

Sophia's response: "Well, we do."

Interviewer's response:

"The words made me laugh, just as if they'd come off my wife's lips."

(Demonstrating that you can be married to a Latina and still be misogynist, sexist and racist.)

Sofía Vergara is a comedic actress. She is not an activist nor an educator. She gets paid tons of money and receives many awards for maintaining the representation of the hot, loud, and sexy Latina. It's pretty ironic how she pays the consequences in this very interview for perpetuating a stereotype that is toxic and dangerous to all women by being objectified and not taken seriously at all.

While Sofía gets accolades, it is Latinas in the real world who pay the harsher and sometimes dangerous consequences. Sometimes people in the real world have trouble understanding the images we see on television are exaggerated and are, many times, false. Especially since we do not get to see any other examples of Latina portrayals on television. No behavior can be restricted to an entire race, culture or country of people.

In the real world Latinas face prejudice, discrimination, and unequal treatment, having to disprove misconceptions on the basis of their looks.  A woman's color, shape or size are not an invitation of any kind. Stereotypes create false ideas of what women of color can or cannot do, placing obstacles to their quest success across every field.

The best lesson this Esquire article can provide is an actual demonstration of the vicious cycle society has fallen into by repeating its mistakes and failing to bring diversity into mainstream media. The interviewer's treatment of Vergara shows how Latinas will never be respected and treated equally in society if we continue the charade. Right now it's all the same, it's all boring, and damaging, and I'm not tuning in to these shows or purchasing these magazines.

Mainstream media also loves to promote how women have come a long way but statistics prove otherwise. Here are some facts to consider:

The 2010 US Census shows the median annual earnings of women 15 or older who worked year-round full time was $36,931, unchanged from 2009.

Facts on women of color in elective office

  • Of the 89 women serving in the 112th US Congress, 24 or 27% are women of color.
  • From those, 13 are African American, 7 are Latina, 4 are Asian American and none are Native American.
  • Of the 68 women serving in statewide elective executive offices 10, or 14.7% are women of color.
  • Women of color constitute 4.7% of the 7,382 state legislators.

Source: http://www.wcffoundation.org/pages/research/women-in-politics-statistics.html

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