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On Why I Date Latinos

February 13, 2013

Warning: This post discusses dating in a heteronormative fashion. Please know that I intend no disrespect when using generalized statements and am well aware that the arguments I make here are only valid within my experiences in this type of relationship.

Hola! I hope you freethinkers are finding this February to be fierce and fabulous! If you subscribe to the popular idea of February as the “month of love,” then I hope you are feeling amorous and lovely. For myself, February is just another month; I use any opportunity during the year to engage in loving activities with whomever I feel a connection with.

However, many people close to me have noticed that I tend to save said activities for a certain type of man. That is, a specific type of man from a certain background. Although I immediately recoil at the idea that I might have a predilection for any one “kind” of man (I hold strong that the females I occasionally fantasize about fit no particular mold), I’ve started to think that maybe my friends are right.

Then I start to wonder, “Why?” What is it about men from this background that attracts me to them? Even the men have asked me this question. As I pour through the possible answers in my mind, one quality keeps popping up, over and over again.

Are these men any more faithful than other men? No. Are they more handsome, more considerate, or more emotionally available than some? That’s going to be based on opinion, but probably not. Then what is it that keeps drawing me into the arms of these men? Allow me, dearies, to explain the reasoning I finally could not find fault with; a logic that I hold to be true for a majority of the men I’ve encountered from this background (although there are ALWAYS those pesky exceptions, so please don’t take this as gospel).

Permit me, if you will, to elaborate on why I date foreign-born (and raised!) Latino men.

I didn’t really start dating, per se, until my senior year of high school. All of a sudden I was desirable and, even though I started the year with no boyfriends under my belt, I left for college with a solid six “relationships” down in my history books (full disclosure, none of those are now counted as relationships, as two weeks here and a month there do not a relationship make). I dated all different kinds of guys, and found myself heartbroken by two of them. They were the ones I liked the most. They were Latino.

In college, I dated one guy on and off for two years. I wasn’t really into him, but he was just so damned nice that I didn’t know how to break it off. We never entered a “relationship” phase, just casual dates, and right after graduation I eventually got some guts and called it off. I realize I’ve probably suffered some karmic retribution for not cutting that cord sooner. Oh yeah, he wasn’t Latino.

After graduation and into grad school, I started dating a Latino guy we’ll call Romero. This was my first “real” relationship (we fell in love with each other, moved in, etc., etc.). Things didn’t work out. After Romero, I didn’t see anybody for three years.

After I finally got over that relationship, I started dating again. This time I only dated foreign-born Latino men. Not because I was seeking them out, particularly, but because we always kind of found each other in a crowd and were magically drawn together. I began hanging out with Latino men and women, and their families. I also started speaking Spanish rather quickly, and developed some strong friendships which remain until this day.

During the time when I’m getting to know somebody and they are getting to know me, questions about who we are and what we like inevitably start to come up. Things like, Do you like short guys? (I quickly realized I would have to get over any complex about being taller than my mate, as incredible height is not a generally inherited characteristic amongst the Latino population.) Do you like older or younger guys? Do you like to dance? What kind of work do you do? These are common queries that are thrown my way.

Of course, I have some questions too. Do you have kids? How long have you lived in the US? Do you like it here? What’s it like where you’re from? Are you married? You are? Do you have any cute, unmarried cousins?

After chatting with someone for a while, then moving past friendly chat into flirty chat, if the situation calls for it, we eventually get to the compliment phase of the night. I often hear things like “You’re beautiful, intelligent, funny, and sexy,” and I respond with such smooth lines as “You’re handsome. You have pretty eyes. I like your hair. Can you help me with my Spanish?”

The one thing that never gets mentioned, however, is body size or the body in general. No “Dayum! You have a great ass!” or “Ooh baby, you’re thick!” No “You have such a pretty face” or “I’m a trainer at Crunch; I love to work out.” I’m not looked at with disgust, nor am I looked at with creepy eyes from a man dying to get his plus-sized fantasy fetish fulfilled. I am just looked at with either adoration if he’s interested or general respect if he’s not. And I have to tell you, when I first encountered this behavior, it FREAKED ME THE FUCK OUT.

I began investigating this pattern of conduct. As a person with a degree in Sociology, I felt it was my duty to get to the bottom of this abnormal reaction to fat — that is, no reaction at all. I began telling my Latino friends about my involvement with the Size Acceptance movement. They thought it was great, although they didn’t understand why there was a need for it. I had to explain the blatant discrimination that people of size face everyday because of their bodies, and often related it to the contempt that immigrants in the US have to consistently face. We discussed the stupidity of the intolerant, questioned the mindsets of the bigoted, and wondered aloud why we don’t live in a world where difference is celebrated and accepted.

I began to ask the guys I would date how they felt about my body. Confused, they would say, “I like your body.” When I would ask them what type of body they preferred, they would say, “No es importa.” When I would push and ask them to just tell me what type of body they liked better, they would say, “No es importa. Me gusta todos cuerpos.” I was flabbergasted. Did these guys really just tell me over and over that bodies don’t matter? That they like them all? Are they really telling me that they have NO preference? That they just love women, regardless of shape or size?

Yes, they really were.

And they were telling the truth. When I’m looking at a plus-sized magazine and they come up behind me and see a bigger woman modeling, I hear “Ella es bonita.” When I’m watching TV and there is a thin model wearing lingerie to sell picture frames and pickles, I hear “Ella es bonita.” When I’m out and I see a Latino man with a woman on a date, or in a family setting, I see women of all shapes and sizes by their sides. And they all seem happy. They don’t care. It’s refreshing. And it’s a TURN-ON. Not just as a woman of size, but as a woman who’s used to being judged by my appearance daily.

Many people are quick to stereotype Latino men and state that they LOVE fat women. From what I’ve witnessed, they LOVE all women. I think it’s the fact that this includes fat women that throws people off. Indeed, there are men from certain backgrounds who fetishize fat women. This is not what I’m looking for, and it makes me just as uncomfortable as those who loathe me because of my body. The fact that the body is just a part of the woman, not the part that defines her beauty, is what attracts me to Latino men.

Earlier, I made it a point to mention that I mostly date foreign-born and raised Latino men. This was not a mistake. Unfortunately, through my dating forays, I have found that men who are raised in the US, regardless of their backgrounds, are more likely to have a judgmental attitude about the size and shape of a woman’s body. For them, appearance es importa. And while that’s okay for some women, it’s not what I’m looking for in a partner.

All in all, I realized that I do, indeed, gravitate towards a particular type of man. I am always quick to tell people that no, I do not have a “type” as far as looks go; I don’t discriminate, and can find beauty in all people from all backgrounds. However, I now know that I lean towards dating men who find me beautiful, sexy, smart, and funny. Not because of my body, and not in spite of my body, but because of who I am and in spite of what anybody else thinks.

I am by no means suggesting that these men do not exist in other cultures; we all know that this would not be a true statement. What I am suggesting, however, is that from my lived experiences, there seems to be a higher proportion of men who feel this way in the foreign-born Latino community than in other cultures. Which is why now, when I am asked if I prefer Latino men and why, I have my answer ready and waiting.

Kerasi sig

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    February 13, 2013 10:28 am

    Great post and brings back some fond memories.
    I noticed the same thing back when I was single and sorta kinda maybe dating (this was when I first moved to MN, 20 years ago). For a couple of years, I was living in a small motel in a very small town here in MN that rented rooms by the week/month. Most of the people who stayed there were summer-only residents – they were men who came up from Texas/Mexico to work at the canning plant in another small town nearby. 90% of these men had been born and raised in Mexico. Some of them were single (or said they were) and a few of them wanted to date me. I didn’t understand why, I was fat and most men I knew didn’t like/date fat women – this was in my pre-internet days and I didn’t have a clue what FA was or that it even existed. But these Latino men wanted to date me, weren’t afraid to be seen with me in public, and we had a lot of fun when we went out. It was refreshing, to say the least. It’s really too bad that so many men have been indoctrinated to think they prefer one body type (the one the media says is “acceptable”) over another one instead of looking at women as a whole package and that body type is no importa. (I thank all the gods that exist that my husband isn’t one of those men, and that body type doesn’t matter to him – he just likes women, of all sizes/shapes).

  2. Leila Haddad permalink
    February 13, 2013 3:47 pm

    Boy am I in your camp sister! Only I tend to be involved with South American men as the Carribbean latinos here are way too americanised in their taste of women and have a tendency to lust after super femme divas and I’m not one for maincures and high heels. the other big difference is, when you hook up, you are his mujer. not his friend with benefits

  3. Kerasi permalink
    February 13, 2013 8:55 pm

    I am glad you ladies have found some fellas that make you feel loved and appreciated regardless of size! Vesta, our stories read like twins! I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to glamorize all Latino men; there are just as many cons as there are pros to dating anyone from any background. What I have found is that, for me, the big hurdle of body self-image that occurs in many relationships is absent from the start in the ones I find myself in with Latino men. Of course, there may always be other hurdles to overcome; however, I think feeling great about yourself and loved and knowing that the person you are with is proud to be seen with you is a huge pro that I am glad to have nailed down.

  4. February 13, 2013 9:28 pm

    Thank you for this post! I am male, but have often felt bad about being attracted to the heteronormative American white female. Thanks for understanding! And as a sidenote, instead of beauty, I rather look for (inner and/or outer) strength in people instead of beauty. Typical guy, amiright?

  5. Kerasi permalink
    February 14, 2013 8:55 am

    Z: Thanks for responding! You are the ATYPICAL stereotypical male, and you should NOT feel badly about that…it’s something we celebrate around here!

  6. JeninCanada permalink
    February 14, 2013 9:29 pm

    Very interesting! So the stereotype *isn’t* a stereotype at all.

  7. The Real Cie permalink
    February 15, 2013 5:44 am

    I can see where you’re coming from. If I were looking (which I’m not and never will be again, long story, not the place for it) I might consider looking in this direction. I have always wanted to find a guy who neither wanted me BECAUSE I had a certain body type or wanted me IN SPITE OF the fact that I have a certain body type. A guy who just liked ME, and that was it. It always has seemed that such a thing is impossible.

  8. eleng permalink
    February 15, 2013 7:19 am

    Born and raised latinos came from a wide range of countries. I am sure that the argentinians, or the people from Uruguay or Chile are as fatphobic (or more) as the “gringos”.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      February 16, 2013 11:53 am

      eleng, do you think this might be related to urbanization? Urban people buying into current cultural prejudices? I know in rural America there isn’t nearly the emphasis on being thin or on thinness being equated with attractiveness as there is in large cities.

      • Kerasi permalink
        February 26, 2013 6:04 pm

        Eleng, have you had negative experiences with Argentinians, or people from Uruguay or Chile? I have had positive experiences with Brazilian men in the past but, as I said, there are always exceptions. I’m curious to know why you think these South American Latinos are MORE fatphobic than others. For myself, i’m willing to agree with Elizabeth that urbanization plays a big role in body agnosticism. I’ve lived in huge cities and teensie towns, and I’ve found that the folks from small towns are less judgmental when it comes to body size. However, when I lived in Manhattan, I never had a problem there, either. That might be a bad example though, because that’s like a mini-world on an island; I don’t think any rules apply there; this is why I love it.

  9. Kristin permalink
    April 14, 2013 5:36 pm

    Leila, your comment about being his mujer was an interesting one to me, as I am not very familiar with latino culture. I have developed a very close relationship with a man from Peru. He has been in the states for 20 years. He is newly divorced and not quite ready for a relationship, but we have been kissing friends in the meantime. I know there is a strong connection, but have wondered if I am more a friend with kissing benefits or if the feelings run stronger. He did call me sister the other day though when we were chatting, and I wasn’t sure what to think about that! If it’s a term of endearment than great, if not, I have been demoted to sister status which would seem rather incestuous under the circumstances (smile).

    • Kerasi permalink
      April 16, 2013 9:13 am

      Kristin, if this helps any…the man I’m currently seeing and I were friends for nearly 8 months before we started seeing each other. We’ve been officially dating for going on 5 months, so we’ve known each other for approximately a year. We both weren’t ready for anything serious at first, and so we waited. It was the right decision. It sounds like your relationship is going just fine. Don’t rush.

  10. Tina permalink
    April 22, 2013 9:15 pm

    Sorry if my English is not good. I’m not English speaker. I’m french and I love Latin men too much. I would ready to do everything for a beautiful mexican or Colombian man. I’m so sexually attracted to them, that i afraid to become crazy. I dated 15 Latinos guys, and I wanted a serious relationship with each of them, but it never hapened. I was so pasionate for the culture I and learned Spanish. I travelled in Mexico and I had a lot of mexicans friends. My best friend in University was a Mexican girl. I lived I the house of a wonderful Mexican family in Mexico for a couple of months. I cook Mexican food. I do my own tortillas with masa de mais. I read book about Mexico, and I also read almost all the book of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I listen Mexican rock and I can sing in the canciones de Ranchera music. I think that I was Mexican in a other life. It’s the culture of my hearth. But, the problem is, no Mexican men I dated felt in love with me. I no colombian too. The men I loved more pasionately in my life, was this illegal immigrant from colombia. I will never forget him. I think that la vida no vale nada sin su amor. But we can’t control who fall in love we who. They just don’t loved me, and I never understood why. I blamed myself for that. They used me as a kleenex. They wanted only sex but not a serious relationship. I think that I would be the perfect wife, to adapt me to the culture. I’m catholic too. I wanted to met his mother, and to cook for him and to love him hasta la muerte. Maybe I’m too pasionate. And I know that I’m not ugly. I was very popular in Mexico. Almost all Latin men would like to sleep with me, but they don’t want to marry me. It’s was always the same problem in my dates. They was liar, and ready to say anything and make me believe in a posible serious relationship, but they wanted only sex. I found my Mexican with a other woman. He had 4 novias in the same time. I was so sad that I wanted to suicidate me. But I tried to date othes Latin men. But the same problem came back. They had muchas novias or were married but they don’t said that they were married. They were married with Latinas women. Latinas are good for marriage, but white women are good for sex. It’s what they believe. I me, I’m only an object. This was violent relationship, abusive and I lived a nightmare. I’m sure that in Latin America, there is good guys. So why I had only badluck with the Latin men. My best friend married a saladorian man and he beat her and cheat on her all the time. Where are the good Latin guys? And what’s wrong with me? Does a look slutty or a prostitue? I think no. I’m a normal girl. There is a problem with the culture, or the problem come from me? I finally dated north African men. Because with Latin men, the life is too hard. In middle east and north Africa, and India I’m the beauty standard. They like me a lot. But maybe I’m not beautiful enough for Latin men. Not blond enough or I don’t know what’s my fucking problem!

  11. Kerasi permalink
    April 23, 2013 11:43 am

    Tina,
    I’m sorry to hear you’ve run into some painful situations in your past experiences with Latino men. I certainly understand and have come across some of the situations you have listed. I would argue that the treatment you have suffered is not because of the race of the men you are dating but, indeed, it is cultural. As you noted, there is a lot of sexism, violence, and patriarchy embedded in the societal norms of Latino countries (as well as every other country-it’s important that you realize these behaviors can be attributed to men from all cultures, not just Latinos). And it hasn’t gone unnoticed. There are lots of great men from these countries and within these cultures who recognize certain behaviors as inappropriate and wrong. You just have to be patient and not let someone else’s internal struggle define who you are. I’ve attached some articles and books about Latino culture and machismo written by some Latino journalists/academics or provided by Latino organizations. I hope they give you more insight than I can, as I am a mere outsider making sociological observations based on my own experiences. Good luck, and don’t give up on yourself, your convictions, or your worth as an individual. ~Kerasi

    http://www.beinglatino.us/uncategorized/the-new-machismo/

    http://www.libertadlatina.org/Crisis_Latin_America_Machismo.htm

    http://nbclatino.com/2013/02/04/latinos-challenge-machismo-through-art-and-mentoring/#s:screen-shot-2013-01-31-at-4-32-22-pm-1

  12. September 3, 2014 12:38 am

    I realize this comment is a bit late to the show, but I thought I would post anyway. I could not agree more with your findings. I am dating a man from Peru, and I have found that any body type issues in this relationship are solely mine. He loves my body without any judgement, and this alone has been the hardest thing for me to get used to. I keep waiting for the passive aggressive comment to be made, or for the suggestions to start rolling in. All he has said is that he loves my body and knows that I work out regularly. He says he is just happy that I am healthy, and that he would love my body no matter what size it was. How refreshing!

    • September 14, 2014 11:29 am

      I’m so glad you’ve found such an affirming relationship! It’s so much easier to find what we need within ourselves when we’re partnered with someone who already thinks we are pretty perfect.

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