White Western sensibilities, notions of Latinidad and feminist aesthetics collide in Dangerous Curves: Latina Bodies in the Media by Isabel Molina-Guzman (New York University Press, 2010). While not fully addressing issues of Latina/o privilege related to whiteness and Blackness, it is nevertheless a thought-provoking book that reveals some insights into continental debates on Latina/o identity. If you are familiar with discussions of how mainstream media represents and misrepresents people of color, a lot inDangerous Curves will not be new to you, but there are still plenty of diverse examples, from TV’s Ugly Betty to films like Spanglish. Molina-Guzman investigates how presumptions of conservative Latina/o politics (embodied in family-values cultural mores and religious faith) as well as Latina nubility contrasted with white beauty standards, cast Latinas into a position for white consumers that is at once more primal than traditional white images, but safer than Blackness, which is oftentimes far more scrutinized by mainstream media. More subtly,Dangerous Curves relates how the pressure to sell shapes key decisions in telling a story. Whether it is playing up Frida Kahlo’s sexual orientation over her socialist political beliefs via Salma Hayek’s portrayal in Frida or Jennifer Lopez as a diva, globalization and capital play a role here that cries out to be challenged more fully.
If there is a missing spot in Dangerous Curves, it is taking these observations beyond the academic and into the realm of affecting lives. Full review.
- Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas [review]
- Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay [review]
- Call for Submissions – Multi-dimensional Afro-Latina/o Identities in the 21st Century [#Feminist Friday]
- Media Blackface: “Racial Profiling” in News Reporting
- Chicana and Chicano Art: ProtestArte [review]