Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story is a popular source for representations of Latinx (specifically Puerto Rican) culture that has survived fifty-seven years of media evolution and remains a “cult classic” to this day. The “Maria” stereotype that sprouted from the film’s main female protagonist, who was depicted as Puerto Rican by a white actress, and one of its most well-known musical numbers—titled “Maria”—has been used as a way to not only describe Latinx women, but promote the idea that all Latinx women fit into one category of Latinx womanhood.2 While it is no secret that Latinx women are sexualized, the erasure of potential intersectionality promoted by the song as well as the treatment of the Puerto Rican women by their masculine counterparts and the rival gang of white Americans are only a fraction of the long history of female Latinx representation in popular American culture.
Junco-Rivera, María Fernanda, "Caliente, Crazy, and Conveniently Marketable: Latinx Female Bodies in American Media" (2018). Undergraduate Research Awards, Hollins University. 43.
María Fernanda Junco-Rivera- Research Award submission essay
Undergraduate Research Awards - 2018 Finalist, Junior-Senior category.