Gina Rodriguez

photo: Reuters

It’s no secret that Latinas have become a force to be reckoned with. Currently, one in five women in the United States are Latina and the numbers are expected to rise to one-third of the female population by 2060. However, despite the major strides Latinas have made over the years in education and different career sectors, the media has largely portrayed Latina in more stereotypical negative roles. 

Luckily, Hollywood and TV networks are starting to portray Latinas in a more positive light. For instance, the headlines were recently dominated with the news that Laurie Hernandez is the first Latina to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Disney has also unveiled the first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor. It’s important to make sure these positive stories of Latinas continues to increase as role models are important to our identity and self-worth.

Role models affect self-worth

When you only see negative portrayals of your community or demographic, it can be disheartening and affect your self-worth. Young Latinas may not feel they can achieve their dreams based on what is being told or shown to then. If you only see Latinas being portrayed as either a maid or in some sexual context on TV, it’s hard to inspire and motivate the next generation. We need to see more Latinas as doctors, lawyers, politicians to show that we are not defined by negative stereotypes and that we are just as capable of being successful like anyone else.

Role models influence behavior

There are several studies that show humans often learn by modeling others. As such, we often mimic behavior and qualities of people we admire. Inspiring Latina role models such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer or Golden Globe-winning actress Gina Rodriguez invoke positive behavior for Latinas to follow in order to accomplish their dreams. As a successful and educated Latina, your actions can influence fellow Latinas in the workplace or even at home (children, siblings, etc).

Role models inspire

Latinas are still largely underrepresented in Hollywood and other career sectors such as law, medicine, and science. Therefore, it is imperative that we have our stories heard in any way we can to inspire the younger generation. If you’re a successful Latina in your sector, share your story to young Latinas including the struggles you endured to accomplish what you’ve done. Your immigration story or background as a first-generation student may not only be relatable to a young Latina, but you may inspire the next Steve Jobs or Hillary Clinton.

It is imperative we continue to highlight the accomplishments of fellow Latinas and show Hollywood and the TV networks, we want our community to be shown in a more positive light. These stories not only affect us personally but also the next generation of Latinas. So let’s show the world what we’re made of!

Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala.com, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.