What People Actually Mean When They Say Someone Is Exotic


“Exotic” is a beautiful-looking word (That sexy X! That cute lil’ C!) that often describes beautiful things: An exotic bird. A beach house on an exotic shore…the kind you can only reach via a small plane, a ferry, a secret password and more money than any of us makes in two years. Things that are exotic are foreign, different and often, alluringly unknowable. So. Can a person be exotic, too?

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Credit: Google

It’s a question many Latinas are confronted with when the word — a word used to describe weird birds and faraway beaches — is used to define us, too. Latinos are, and have long been, an integral part of U.S. culture and history. We’re American. America is us. And yet we continue to be very much an “other” in the eyes of our non-Latino pals, as many of us who’ve partaken in such quintessentially capital-W White activities (e.g. drinking #PSLs or talking back to a parent) will tell you.

Is it that some of us look exotic? What would that even entail? What’s the metric that features commonly branded as “Latina,” be it olive skin or full eyebrows or a curvy figure, are being measured against?

Is it the accent? Some of us have one, for sure. Maybe our L’s are a lingered on a little longer, our R’s slightly more curled and pronounced. Is that exotic? And if so, for whom?

Credit: ABC / Giphy

The idea of exoticness is, I think we can agree, meant to signal something positive, alluring, maybe even a little sexy and adventurous. There’s the thrill of being presented with something new and different, a mystery you’d like to solve. But many stereotypes based on the very best of intentions and praise can fall flat when it comes to truly understanding any group of people as just that: People.

Nothing drives this home as succinctly as the top definitions for the term on Urban Dictionary, that time-honored barometer of cultural zeitgeists:

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Then there’s the added reality that Latinas also occupy a very defined space in a particular industry: Porn. To wit:

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Credit: Google

Kind of adds an additional little spin on the term’s cultural currency on the internet, no?

To that end, I asked fellow Latinas on Twitter to weigh in on the term, if they wanted. Here’s what they had to say:

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Credit: Twitter / @katbee
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Credit: Twitter / meligrosa
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Credit: Twitter / @ameliaabreu

But what do you think of the term? Love it? Hate it? Think it’s a great word as long as it describes weird birds and faraway beaches? Tell us; we wanna know.

READ: These #LatinasAreNot Tweets Slays Stereotypes Perfectly

So, what are your thoughts on the term “exotic”? Share them below!

Meet The Mexican Robin Hood Who Put Fear In The Heart Of Texans

Things That Matter

Meet The Mexican Robin Hood Who Put Fear In The Heart Of Texans

Orion Pictures

A new Latino USA podcast brings you an epic tale of Wild West justice neatly packed into one man: Juan Cortina.

Credit: @C_historienne / Twitter / Tejano History Curriculum Project / University of Texas

Living along the Texas-Mexico border during the 1800s was the epitome of the Wild West. A man named Juan Nepomuceno Cortina Goseacochea, or Juan Cortina, stood up for Mexicans in the U.S. who were being attacked and intimidated by Texan settlers who were trying to take their land – and their dignity.

Cortina, a landowner with ranches in Mexico and the U.S., started his brand of vigilante justice in 1859 when he launched a takeover of Brownsville, Texas.

Credit: @MOSTHistory / Twitter

Cortina was just taking a ride through town when he saw the Brownsville sheriff pistol whip a Mexican farm worker, who once worked for Cortina. Right then and there, Cortina decided that it was enough. Both Cortina and the sheriff drew their pistols and opened fire on each other. The sheriff missed, but Cortina shot the sheriff’s arm and fled with the farm worker to safety. Soon, Cortina’s Texas ranch was turned into the headquarters for the Mexican landowners fighting against Anglo Texans. Cortina eventually earned the nickname “Rio Grande Robin Hood.”

With his reputation as a badass cemented, Cortina would eventually go on to become the governor of Tamaupilas.

Credit: Orion Pictures

Cortina was also immortalized in the movie, “One Man’s Hero,” which tells the story of the San Patricio Battalion, a group of European (mostly Irish) soldiers who abandoned the U.S. to fight with Mexican troops. Cortina is played by Joaquim de Almeida (the bad guy from “Fast Five”).

Listen to the story of this kick-ass Mexican folk hero below! Skip to 5:13 to hear about Juan Cortina.

Credit: Latino USA NPR

READ: The Border Patrol Did Everything Possible To Protect An Agent Who Killed An Innocent Mexican Kid

(H/T: Latino USA NPR)

Have you ever heard of Juan Cortina, the Rio Grande Robin Hood? Share this story with your friends and get his story out there before history forgets him again.

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