When a LGBTQ person comes out to their family or friends, we say “came out of the closet,” and in Spanish, it’s the same – salir del clóset. Head’s up: Clóset in Spanish is that portable wardrobe contraption. A legit closet, like the one built into the walls, is un armario.
On December 21, 2020, journalist and podcaster Tracie Egan Morrissey opened a jar of worms that caused a massive stir. In a post shared to her Instagram Story, Morrissey shared a string of posts that examined the accent of author, and yoga instructor Hilaria Baldwin (wife to Alec Baldwin), and her alleged claims of Spanish heritage. In her post, Morrisey questioned whether or not Baldwin has misrepresented her ethnic and cultural background.
Since, Baldwin, who was not born in Spain and does not come from a Spanish family, but one from Massachusetts, has been forced to explain herself.
In a post shared to Twitter, Morrissey commented on Baldwin’s “decade-long grift” of impersonating a Spanish person.
“You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade-long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person,” Twitter user @lenibriscoe remarked at the top of a long thread that quickly went viral.
According to Page Six, Baldwin’s bio on her agency’s site claims that “Baldwin was born in Mallorca, Spain and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.” In 2018, Hola! magazine described Hilaria as “born in Spain” and noting that Spanish is her native language. @lenibriscoe shared that in interviews from her earlier days of her marriage to actor Alec Baldwin Hilaria Baldwin spoke with a Spanish accent and, in one case, seemed to forget the English word for “cucumber.”
Users pointed out that in an April interview with Cat and Nat of the MomTruths podcast, Baldwin claimed to have “moved here when [she] was 19 to go to NYU.” When asked where she’d moved from, Baldwin noted From — my family lives in Spain, they live in Mallorca.”
After being called out for faking an accent, Hilaria has had to clarify previous assumptions about her heritage.
It is true in fact that Baldwin’s parents live in Mallorca, and according to “Page Six,” they have resided there since 2011. Before that, however, they lived in Massachusetts. According to CUT, Twitter investigators sleuths “dug up the following footage of Kathryn Hayward (‘formerly an internist at the Massachusetts General Hospital’) on what looks like her website, speaking about her upbringing in Longmeadow, as well as Baldwin’s paternal grandfather’s obituary, which states that the Thomas ‘family presence in … Vermont predated the American Revolution.’ Baldwin’s grandfather’s professional travel to Argentina reportedly inspired his children to ‘become proficient in the Spanish language.’”
Strangely, however, if you search “where was Hilaria Baldwin born” on Google it shows a map of Mallorca. Hilaria’s IMDb bio states that “Hilaria Baldwin was born on January 6, 1984 in Mallorca, Spain as Hilaria Lynn Thomas.” School mates of Hilaria have noted that when she was younger she went by the name Hilary.
Recently, Hilaria responded to the questions in a post shared to Instagram.
Hilaria admitted that “there’s some stuff that needs to be clarified,” but said that her words were twisted in previous media appearances. She admitted that she was “born in Boston” and claimed to be “a different kind of Bostonian” one who lived“some of [her] childhood in Spain… There was a lot of back-and-forth my entire life, and I’m really lucky that I grew up speaking two languages,” Hilaria explained that her accent changes depending on the language she speaks more often. “When I tried to work, I try to enunciate a little bit more, but when I get nervous or upset, then I start to mix the two.”
When it comes to her name, Baldwin says that she used the name Hillary in the U.S. and Hilaria in Spain. “My parents, they call me Hilaria, my whole family call me Hilaria,” she remarked. “It’s the same name, just a few letters different, so I think we shouldn’t be so upset about it,” she said. “And whatever you guys want to call me, I will respond to both.”
So far, fans have yet to determine if Baldwin’s claims actually hold water. We’ll see if her insistence that she is not to blame for the misconceptions about her heritage works for her moving forward.
Fortunately, Oxford University Press knows this and is making efforts to combat sexism and out of date language in its dictionaries. This year, their kicking off by tackling the word “woman.” According to Oxford University Press they’ve updated and changed the entry for “woman” in its dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary, to promote equality and better describe women.
Oxford University Press explained in a recent statement that they’re expanding the dictionary’s coverage of women.
“We have expanded the dictionary coverage of ‘woman’ with more examples and idiomatic phrases which depict women in a positive and active manner,” the largest university press in the world explained in a statement. “We have ensured that offensive synonyms or senses are clearly labeled as such and only included where we have evidence of real-world usage.”
As part of their action, OUP added phrases such as “woman of the moment,” which had been absent from the dictionaries despite having the presence of ones like “man of the moment.”
According to CNN, “one of the definitions of ‘woman’ now refers to a ‘person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover,’ as opposed to being tied to only a man. The definition for ‘man’ was updated to include gender-neutral terms and references to ‘sexual attractiveness or activity’ were revised for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ entries. OUP said its lexicographers regularly review entries to make sure they are accurate. This time around, the voice of the people helped create change.”
“Sometimes the team focus on topics highlighted by user feedback (such as last year’s petition about the definition of ‘woman’) and sometimes these topics are driven by current events or through projects taking place within the Oxford Languages team,” a spokesperson told CNN.
It’s not the first time OUP has updated its words. Recently, the dictionary for the English language has made changes to words related to race and gender identity. Earlier this year, OUP updated the use of “they” which is used as a pronoun by and for nonbinary people.
In 2019, OUP removed “sexist” terms for a woman after tens of thousands of people signed a Change.org petition.
In response to the petition, suggestive phrases about women were removed including “Ms September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman,” according to CNN and phrases such as “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman.”
In a statement their definiitions, OUP wrote “Our dictionaries reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used… This is driven solely by evidence of how real people use English in their daily lives. With that in mind, lexicographers reviewed examples in its dictionary data to make sure representations of woman were positive and active.”