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Latinx community: 3 tips for authentic representation

Even though there is nearly 58 million people of Latinx, Hispanic and Latino-Identified descent living in the United States, the way they are represented in media and advertising usually boils the community down to one-dimensional stereotypes like sultry, sexy, spicy, machismo, drug lord, service worker, farmhand, exotic, ambiguous, immigrant, invisible or other.

Men, women, and everyone between or outside the binary are often highly sexualized. Women are flattened into exotic playthings or domestic workers. Men can only be macho, hypermasculine, and dominant.

latinx woman
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Everyone is stripped of their unique stories and relegated to the background as the ambiguous “ethnic” friend, the service staff, or some other offensive and harmful stereotype.

Two years ago, iStock by Getty Images launched the Nosotros Collection: the very first curated collection aimed at dismantling the pervasive stereotypes that exist in the Latinx community.

With National Latinx Heritage Month upon us, it’s an important time to call out the urgency of the content in the collection and ensure creatives are using it as a lever to reclaim Hispanic stories in our visual landscape. Here’s some advice when selecting imagery for your campaigns.

1. Move past harmful stereotypes

It’s important that communicators and marketers counteract misinformed tropes and stereotypes by selecting authentic visual content—images, video, illustrations or vectors– that accurately represents the Latinx community.

This year, the most popular images from the Nosotros Collection are significantly more varied than previous years and inclusive of intra-Hispanic race, ethnicity, and age.

This is progress but our work is far from complete. Diverse imagery of the Hispanic community is long overdue, and it’s critical that we continue this work to dismantle the stereotypes that have festered for decades in media and advertising.  

2. Understand the intersectionality of the Latinx community and depict its layered identity 

latinx family
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

The Latinx community is one that is large and diverse, so it’s critical to intersectionally represent all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. When looking to engage the Latino community, images, videos and illustrations must understand the nuanced differences of the cultures. 

The good news is the industry is making progress and we need to keep this momentum up. 

Beyond race and ethnicity, we also have to embrace other layers of identity within the community. Unfortunately, we still aren’t seeing enough Latinx people who are LGBTQ or have disabilities in media and advertising. 

Don’t diminish the Latinx community to a single, shared trait. Instead, highlight and celebrate its tremendous diversity. 

3. Don’t focus on one aspect of life: tell complete, well-rounded stories that paint a real picture. 

latinx community
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Finally, it’s essential to avoid tokenism and shift to a focus on showcasing the lived experiences and perspectives of Latinx people. This means digging deep to truly understand members of the community and telling their stories in a human and authentic way. 

When we kicked off the Nosotros collection in 2019, our mission was to mend not only the lack of diversity in appearances and nationalities but also the lack of robust storytelling representing the Latinx community in the media industry.

Brands can ultimately help achieve this goal by selecting visuals that show all aspects of Latinx people’s lives (i.e. with family and friends, at home, at work, celebrating, traveling, etc.). 

The Nosotros Collection should continue to serve as a guiding point and a place where people can access imagery that authentically portrays the Latinx community. But, at the end of the day, real change will come with brands actually integrating these visuals in practice.

Looking forward, brands should commit to improving the representation of the Latinx community in their content and hold themselves accountable by consistently making the choices that helps them do so. 

Article by Tristen Norman, Head of Creative Insights, The Americas iStock