13 Celebs Who’ve Spoken Out Against the Notion They’re “Not Latina Enough”
A widely held misconception about Latinas is that they have to look a certain way—dark skin, brown eyes, brunette hair—or have an accent to be legit members of the community. But the reality is Latinas are extremely diverse—and some aren’t fluent in their family’s native tongue. Yet, in recent years, many celebs have been called out for “not being Latina enough.” Below we profile 13 celebrities, including Lauren Jauregui, Jennifer Lopez, and Gina Rodriguez, who’ve had to defend their right to claim their Latin roots.
The Fifth Harmony member, who’s Cuban-American, was the most recent star to defend her identity. She went after a radio station based in Spain that aired an opinion piece questioning the legitimacy of American celebrities who self-identify as Latino.
Jauregui clapped back at the station with not one, but numerous tweets. “An article based off of opinion. I feel Latina because I was born in a Latin family. I speak the language, I cook the food,” she wrote. “I have been part of the Latino community in Miami since I was born; I have always had them around me. Anyone could tell you that.”
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“I’m going to be reprimanded by a culture that I’m supposed to support and is supposed to support me because of the way I was raised? That is too limiting. That is unfair," the Jane The Virgin star said during a conversation with HuffPost Live in 2015 after she was criticized on Instagram for her Spanish-speaking skills. "You want to tell me I’m not Latino enough?...I am as Latina as they come. And I am not defined by anybody’s definition of Latina."
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“I’m really proud of [my heritage], especially the way that the Latin community is kind of taking over and rising above politically,” she told HuffPost. “Even though I don’t speak fluent Spanish, I love singing in Spanish. I love being able to represent the curvy sassiness of a Latina woman. It’s just a part of who I am, and I couldn’t be more proud to represent that.”
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"I'm proud to have a Mexican heritage, and I've always deeply rooted my identity in it," the actress told O, The Oprah Magazine in 2010. "Then, about ten years ago, I went to Mexico ... when I got there, I was perceived as American because I didn't speak Spanish and at the time knew very little about the history of Mexico. Yet in America, I was considered Mexican because of how I looked and my last name. It was confusing. I thought, 'If I'm not Mexican, and I'm not American, who am I?'"
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"You don't have to be brunette to be Latin. It's just a fact," Thorne told HuffPost Live in 2015. "I'm naturally blonde, and Cameron Diaz is Latin, she's Cuban and she doesn't look Latin. People ask me all the time: How did you have a quinceañera if you're not Latin?"
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"Another controversy came up in the Latin press about the fact that I didn't speak very good Spanish -- which Selena [Quintanilla] didn't either," Lopez said about being criticism for not being "Latina enough" to play Selena in the self-titled 1997 film.
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“There’s this tug-of-war between two cultures. Am I Latin? Am I American? What the hell am I?” Ferrera told Contact Music in 2009. “I love my culture and I’m very proud of my culture. I want to learn so much about where my family is from and my roots and to know Spanish. But when you’ve lived your entire life in American schools, you don’t get that.”
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"I often hear things like, “You don’t look Latina enough, ” and that mentality is so backwards," the Riverdale actress told People Chica. "The fact is: I am Latina, so how are you going to tell me that I don’t look Latina?"
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Kat Von D
"Throughout my entire life, people have assumed that I am only white and part of me gets frustrated because I would not be who I am if it were not because I grew up in this [Mexican] culture," the makeup mogul told People en Español. "I always say that I am Latina, but I have a stronger connection with Mexico, where I was born. There is a visual richness in that culture that inspires me a lot and can be seen in my work."
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“No one gives Cameron Diaz a hard time for not speaking Spanish,” the Mexican-American entrepreneur told Latina. “Her dad’s Cuban, and I was telling her I feel so bad because everyone is so nasty to me for not speaking Spanish.”
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La La Anthony
"For me, not looking like some people’s idea of a typical Latina has been challenging and often painful," she wrote in a personal essay. "I constantly find myself trying to justify who I am, and why should I? I’m proud of my heritage and my family. Both of my parents are from Puerto Rico."
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“If I’m not American enough and I’m not Latina enough, then what am I? I’m just nothing,” the Orange is The New Black actress told Vibe about not being good enough for the American or Latino market.
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“I think being Latina is about having pride in your heritage,” Dawson said to Latina. “Although I am not a fluent Spanish speaker and I can’t make every dish without a recipe, I am 100 percent Boricua and I am proud of that.”