Has Jessica Alba “finally cut loose” from the need to cut loose?

Somehow, Jessica Alba is, once again, gracing the cover of Latina magazine.

The last time this occurred I shared some of the hurtful comments Alba has made regarding being a Latina.

Understand please, I recognize that Alba has no obligation to identify herself as a Latina. She has every right to dismiss ethnicity altogether, identify only with her white European roots, or simply define herself as American.  I find it sad to think she, anyone, might feel no sense of pride in their heritage but it is not necessarily “wrong”.

What I do find cause to criticize is what her comments have repeatedly implied.  Why has someone who has twice posed on the cover of a magazine that celebrates Latin heritage chosen to make comments which denote a need to pull away from or hide that very heritage as though it is something “less than”?

When I have daughters I want them to be proud of their roots; to know they are rich in tradition and culture.  There is a mixed message when they pick up a magazine celebrating that and the woman on the cover is espousing the opposite (intentionally or not).

Is she truly embarrassed, ashamed, or simply disconnected?  If so, why does she keep coming back to Latin media outlets?  Is this a promotional ploy?

Maybe she has matured and as a mother is now seeing the need to connect with Latino culture but the fact is she has a history of distancing herself and making comments that show a lack of pride and a sense of judgment for Latinos.

It can be a struggle to be Latino in the Unites States; particularly a Mexican-American during a time of heated political debate surrounding issues like immigration.  Our country has grown yet we are still battling racism and prejudice.  It would be a shame to think someone might be made to feel ashamed of their heritage as a result.  We’ve truly lost if we’ve come to see success as being able to say “I have finally cut loose” from my roots.

if she is going to continue utilizing, and benefiting from, Latin media I think it would mean a great deal from our community to hear her finally address her past comments.  I don’t mean a sound-bite or a flippant red-carpet comment.  Let’s hear a real discussion on heritage.  Help us understand, Alba.

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6 thoughts on “Has Jessica Alba “finally cut loose” from the need to cut loose?

  1. I’m surprised that no one has commented here yet… As a person of white (I tend to disagree with the label white, personally) Euro (or more commonly “Anglo-Saxon”) decent, it is hard for me to relate. Now, I do not know her line, or how far back she may have to look but for me, its a long line… my parents were both born in the states, and are both (shockingly) Euro with a mix of Native American… all four of my grandparents were born in the states… all eight of my great grandparents were also American citizens… To my knowledge, even the step before were all American… Of course, I know the regions my family comes from… Myers is German… dad’s side is mostly German, with the addition of American Indian… Mom’s side if French, Native American and Welsh/English… Most white people don’t (here is a generalization, though in my experiences it is true) celebrate heritage… we’re of the ilk of melting pot Americans… i.e. everyone melts together… it could be the military backgrounds… both of my grandfathers were in WWII, all of my uncles are Air Force or were Army… we never integrated traditions, or thought about flying other flags (seems somewhat unpatriotic in my personal opinion to fly another country’s flag, but that’s another conversation)… I was never raised to think of myself as anything other than American… which I’ve never seen as a race thing (granted, there are certain groups, and by certain, I mean all the non-white groups, that suffered at the hands of poor decisions in this country — unfair treatment, slavery, internment camps, foolishness, hate, etc — though that could also be extended to include women, gays, fatties, etc). Me, personally, I don’t see an issue here with Jessica Alba… if she chooses not to embrace the latino aspect of who she is, or wants to make a separation, she has that right (as to her being on the cover of a magazine that is for latinos might be silly, but she is a part of that ethnic group, is a good role model in many ways, is very pretty, and is a celebrity, the last two being the primary reason most cover models are chosen). Is she under an obligation to speak spanish? Is she under an obligation to put some form of hispanic regalia on her car? Is she under any obligation to speak out on the treatment of hispanics in this country? Now, maybe the first two were silly, but my point is, she is a role model, maybe, for being a good mom, or for being mostly free of the bad stuff (drugs, kabbalah, scientology, homicides, slvaery, etc)… Would she even be a good person to take to the streets and stand up for the rights of hispanics, say, in Arizona? No… how could anyone take her seriously? She’s a movie star… she doesn’t have it rough… Sometimes, the best thing a celebrity can do, to keep themselves marketable, and stay out of the negative press is to be quiet… I get tired of celebrities talking about politics… I just want to watch them in movies, I certainly don’t want to hear what they think… Mel Gibson is a good example — I refuse to ever see or possess another movie with him in it… no matter how good it might be… he’s a bad person… Chris Brown is another — I cannot entertain the idea of listening to one of his songs, considering what a bad influence he puts out in the world… I feel like I’ve rambled on and said nothing important… perhaps it is because whitey just don’t get it… who knows…

    • First, Thank you for putting so much thought into this one. I think it would be horribly presumptuous of me to say that “white” people can not understand the issue I’m raising but perhaps that does play a part at least for some. I think the bigger likelihood is one that you raised yourself: many “minorities” have a much closer connection to their ethnic roots than the average “white” American and so perhaps we are experiencing the issues that your race/ethnicity experienced during their time of integration into the U.S. several generations ago.

      Latina magazine’s parent company is Latina Media Ventures. Their co-president Galina Espinoza was once quoted as saying, “There are still so many horrifying stories and stereotypes out there,” Espinoza said, “and I feel like if we’re not the ones fighting to change those stereotypes no one else is going to do it. There’s still a very long education process.”

      Perhaps the disconnect for the white community is that, as a generalization, you no longer/never have had to intentionally battle stereotypes and prejudice on a systemic level.

      Of course Alba isn’t under any obligation to her Latin heritage. i made that clear from the onset of this post. No one has an obligation to their ethnicity.

      Latina magazine states their mission is to “entertain and inspire Latina women with award-winning content that covers Latin culture, style, beauty, food, music and celebrities, and to create products and services that always have, at their core, the real Latina woman—her unique needs, her unique lifestyle.” They define themselves as, “100 percent Latina. 100 percent American. All pride. All passion. This is how Latina Media Ventures (LMV) sees its unique world. And it is what drives the mission to bring the U.S. Latin community the best, most empowering, engaging and culturally relevant content.”

      Yes, Alba is another pretty Latina celebrity but her comments do not embrace the concepts of pride, empowerment, and Latin culture.

      If this were any other magazine, Who cares? But it is not.

      side note: Alba has a second generation Mexican-American father and a half French and half Danish mother. (and yes, her maternal roots are of equal value and if she were to diminish or reject them I would see it as equally regrettable)

  2. I don’t know the magazine or its parent company (this probably doesn’t come as a shock to you since I am neither female nor the product of any spanish speaking country) but the thing I find interesting is not that Jessica Alba has graced their cover twice, but that they have chosen her to do so. My natural disposition is to question and anymore, I have little faith in the words that money-making ventures tend to put forth.

    My first response is that, despite her lack of closeness to her Mexican heritage (I would suggest that many people have no idea she has any latino heritage), that she is a draw, and she sells magazines. For example — Twilight is barely a decent book series, and a truly sh*tty movie series (pardon the language, but I feel that Twilight warrants it) yet, for some reason, a weird group of people LOVE it, and it sells lots of Entertainment Weekly magazines despite its complete lack of ENTERTAINMENT value… Alba is of little substance, if talking of acting chops (recall, I’ve never once defended her acting ability, as there isn’t much to defend)… likewise, she’s not really all that relevant as a hispanic actor — think Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz, Eva Mendez, Lea Michelle, Rosie Perez — actresses that embody their heritage, and are, for the most part, more talented. My only conclusion would be that (a) this magazine wants mainstream names on their cover and have a smaller pool to pull from and (b) their ideals are important, but less important than money.

    On a side note, Erin and I try, in our own ways, through experimentation, to celebrate our heritage and hope to make it important to our girls. We’ve begun a new tradition on Christmas Eve that includes a very traditional German holiday meal and I’ve got a plan for the future (finding the pickle ornament in the tree — sounds silly but cute as well), having Norwegian pancakes, as well as latkas etc, and hope to work in some Caribbean, French and even Welsh traditions someday.

    However, I will always see myself as wholly American, not Euro-American, or German-American etc. For some people (like you, who truly are both), it makes sense… but in my humble opinion, most African Americans I’ve known have little to no connection or sense of pride in African traditions… I’ve known few people who identified themselves as Euro-American, etc… and if you’re third generation or greater, then you really are American… not ____-American…

  3. I don’t have a lot to say on most of your last comment because, well, it was very well put :)

    I do want to mention how wonderful I think it is that you are experimenting with ways to teach the girls about your shared heritage. It gets harder and harder the more generations you are removed from it so I think that’s really commendable. The pickle idea sounds adorable ^.^

  4. I think she is beautiful but I was not familiar with the comments she made about her heritage? Could you point me to those? I would be extremely surprised that this magazine would chose a women who had made hurtful comments about the very ethnicity that the magazine celebrates!! Very interesting and you’re blog is adorable by the way :).

    • If you look at the 2nd paragraph of my post the words “hurtful comments” are highlighted as a link. You’ll find what you’re looking for there. Thanks for reading! and thank you for the sweet compliment :)

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