3 Tips for Authentically Representing the Latinx Community
Even though there are nearly 58 million people of Latinx, Hispanic, and Latino-Identified descent living in the United States, the way they’re represented in media and advertising usually boils the community down to one-dimensional stereotypes, such as 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. 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 launched The Nosotros Collection: the very first curated collection aimed at dismantling the pervasive stereotypes that exist in the Latinx community. On the heels of National Hispanic Heritage Month, 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.
According to iStock’s Visual GPS research, nearly 70% of people say it’s important that the companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds. The data also reveals that 7 out of 10 people prefer to buy from brands that represent a lifestyle similar to theirs in advertising and communications. With that in mind, here are a few tips when selecting inclusive visual content for your campaigns beyond National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Move Past Harmful Stereotypes
It’s important that communicators and marketers counteract misinformed tropes and stereotypes by selecting authentic visual content—such as these images, videos, or illustrations—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 Latinx 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.
Understand the Intersectionality of the Latinx Community
The Latinx community is large and diverse, so it’s critical to intersectionally represent across all ages, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, abilities, and body types. Despite significant progress since the launch of Nosotros two years ago, Mexican Latinos still dominate iStock’s searches for Latinos. When looking to engage the Latino community, it’s important for businesses to understand the nuanced differences between the cultures. We must embrace all layers of identity within the Latinx community, and not diminish the community to a single, shared trait. Instead, highlight and celebrate its tremendous diversity.
Tell Complete, Well-Rounded Stories that Paint a Real Picture
Finally, it’s essential to avoid tokenism and, instead, shift to 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 and businesses can ultimately help achieve this goal by selecting visuals that show all aspects of Latinx people’s lives—with family and friends at home, at work, celebrating, and traveling.
iStock’s 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 and businesses actually integrating these visuals in practice. By making the commitment to improve representation year-round, brands and businesses can hold themselves accountable and be part of inspiring change by making communities feel empowered and represented in society.
To find imagery and video celebrating the diverse, authentic experiences of the Latinx community, visit: https://www.istockphoto.com/diversity