stereotypes abound

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So let me tell you a story.

There is this person I have been interacting with recently. Let’s call her Patty. She’s really nice, but she says some things that leave me slightly offended and mostly chuckling about her ignorance.

A few weeks ago, I overheard Patty talking to a girl who looked hispanic. The girl was trying to lose weight for her upcoming wedding. Patty (who has a background in nutrition) told her that she needs to eat better, and lay off the tortillas and rice. It annoys me that just because someone looks hispanic, people automatically assume they pig out on tortillas and rice. Did you know in Peru you couldn’t even buy tortillas? They were as unheard of as Mountain Dew!

It also annoys me that people assume, just because I have a Spanish last name, that I’m hispanic. Anyways.

So fast forward to today. I was talking to Patty again, and she was asking me about Paul. I told her that he was a stick – 5’4″ and only weighing 105 lbs. (aren’t you jealous? I am!). She was surprised, and asked me why he was so thin.

“Because he’s Mexican,” I told her.

“Oh!” she said. “So he works outside all day?”

JUST BECAUSE HE’S MEXICAN DOESN’T MEAN HE’S A DAY LABORER. But I didn’t say that. I said nicely, “No he works in an office. Mexicans and Latins in general have smaller statures.”

“Do you eat his food then?” At my blank look she added, “His culture’s food?”

“No…” I started and was about to explain that he’s a fourth generation Mexican-American, but she continued on.

“I see all these hispanic women who have trouble losing weight because of the food they eat. All that rice and beans and tortillas! I’m always telling them to stop eating so unhealthily.”

Okay – break here – tortillas?? Since when are they the super unhealthy food? I must admit my blood pressure rose a bit here.

“You know, I grew up in Latin America and when I moved back to the States I was shocked by how fat Americans are. In Latin America, in general people are very small and thin. They eat these huge meals for lunch and dinner, and yet they are so thin.”

We went on to discuss this – I explained that they were so much more inclined to walk and exercise, as we Americans are lazy (hehe). They eat these huge meals, but it’s all from scratch – no processed foods. I just think it’s so interesting that she typecasted hispanic people as being overweight, because that’s the opposite of what my impression would be! I told the whole story to Paul when I got home today and he just laughed, especially about the day laborer part.

I’m not saying a diet of rice, beans, and tortillas is the best, but I can’t imagine it being as bad as she was making it seem like! Aren’t beans really good for you? And brown rice? I honestly think she was reacting because it’s just different. Oh well, hopefully I was able to make her think. I like to do that, especially when it involves hispanic stereotypes (maybe I should have told her my husband was not an illegal immigrant?). Hehe.