Kay Lopez Developed Instagram Gifs To Better Represent All Kinds Of Latinas
Latinx representation in media is limited but leaders like Kay Lopez,a 34-year-old social strategist and content developer, are working to change that. For her latest project she developed 100 gifs to better represent Latinas beyond those normally attached to brands or stereotypes.
“I wasn’t finding any gifs that really spoke to how I felt Latinas should be describing their power and self. The few gifs that I did come across were tied to alcohol brands and soccer teams. It was hard to understand why these gifs didn’t already exist,” she told FIERCE by mitú.
Her background is in social strategy and content development, and she used her skills in graphic design to create the gifs “that spoke to the Latina community.”
She also tapped into the community she developed through the Instagram account, Latinas Poderosas which has more than 30k followers.
The ethos behind the online community is to uplift Latinas and claim space in the digital world while promoting positivity.
“Empowering our community is the foundation of Latinas Poderosas. My goal has always been to empower Latinas by showcasing both past and present Latinas who have created positive impact. Women who have not settled, women who have pushed boundaries and who have made their dreams possible despite obstacles.” she said.
This was the same intention she brought to the project so she reached out to the members of this community to find out what it was they wanted, opening up her DMs to suggestions and requests.
She initially drafted several empowering terms that spoke to Latinx in a positive way.
Eventually, her efforts evolved into working to ensure she represented the diversity within the Latinx community.
She asks for two to three words max per phrase and is continuously looking for popular colloquial adjectives throughout Latin America to “truly capture the diversity of our community.”
“I wanted terms that were not focused on one country, I wanted to pull and showcase the diversity in our phrases and the diversity of the Spanish language. Today you’ll find gifs that read ‘cachimbona’ a phrase used in El Salvador, ‘La Llorona’ which ties to Mexican [folklore], ‘Ya Tu Sabes’ used in the Dominican Republic, and, one of my favorites, ‘Blaxican’ created by special request. The more terms we have the more impact we have!”
Since launching earlier this month the gifs have already generated more than 20 million views and counting and so far the most popular terms are “Prima Hermana,” “Mija,” and “Bebecita.”
Lopez, who is a first-generation Mexican-American Houston transplant living in Los Angeles, is constantly working to make the gifs more inclusive and representative.
According to one report, nearly 40 million Instagram users over the age of 18 were Latinx in 2014 and yet, according to Lopez, the only gifs available to Latinx were primarily stereotypes.
“I want to refrain from Latinx stereotypes as much as possible, words like ‘caliente,’ ‘chancla’ ‘tacos’ – with the exception of ‘tacos before vatos’ which was a request from a fan – and I definitely want to stay away from words that insult our community or other communities. I want the gifs to showcase the diversity of our language, our culture, and the vibrancy of our roots.”
Diversity in a community that includes nearly a quarter of U.S. Latinos who self-identify as Afro-Latino among the millions of immigrants who come from 33 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Her efforts are undoubtedly making the social sphere all the more colorful.
This addition to the digital landscape means that when someone searches “Latina,” “latinas poderosa” or “latinx” in the gif section on Instagram or Snapchat, they’ll be flooded with colorful words including “reina,” “poderosa,” and “diosa.”
Switching up the narrative is ultimately the goal, it’s empowerment at people’s fingertips when the terminology associated with the Latinx community, specifically women, goes from sexual or provocative (the common associations with Latinas) to diverse and uplifting.
“I want Latinas to know that they matter, that they’re seen and heard. I want to encourage our community to create. If you find our narrative missing don’t just shrug it off, do something and create it because no one else will create it for us.”