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“La Tóxica” Stereotype: What It Is and Its Consequences

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

One evening as I was casually scrolling through Tiktok, I came across a few videos of a girl with over three million followers who I (and, as I scrolled to find out, many other Latinas on the app) found to be a bit cringy and problematic. The user that caught all of our attention had completely taken over the hashtag, #LatinTrend… while being an entirely white woman born and raised in England of Portuguese descent. She had gained most of her following and views from making videos in red lipstick and gold jewelry, with Spanish audio and that hashtag, which she uses to contribute to the “La Tóxica” stereotype. The issue here is multifaceted — and quite overplayed by content creators — so I came here to break it down and provide my own two cents on the stereotypes and content creators that milk it for profit. 

What is the “La Tóxica” Stereotype?

“La Tóxica” is used within the Latine community when someone is speaking about a girlfriend or wife. The term, meaning “Toxic Girl,” is used to refer to a female significant other who embodies traits that many people who get into relationships would consider to be toxic or generally unhealthy; this has been depicted on traditional and social media as extreme jealousy, short-tempers, screaming fits, and controlling behavior. While these characteristics are generic and grossly overplayed, I want to be clear that the term, in and of itself, can be used as just a casual nickname within a couple. In my opinion, however, within the relationship is where the name should stay. 

Why is Stereotyping Harmful to the Latina community?

This whole “La Tóxica” as a stereotype is increasingly harmful to Latinas because Latinas are the only ones who mass media associates with being toxic. The harm comes in many forms, but for one, not all Latinas, in fact, most do not act in any “unhealthy” ways when in relationships, and this stereotype is like a popular culture “nudge” or “expectation” of what a Latina wife/girlfriend looks like. Latinas already have to deal with so many different strings pulling on them, telling them they are too much or not enough of something, and this stereotype, I fear, is another one of those strings. If you’re Latina and your significant other has never told you, “You’re a lot to deal with” or something of the sort, social media will try to convince you that you’re not “spicy” enough to be Latina or to relate to the culture. 

Let’s backtrack for a second; for all of the actual tóxicas reading this, let’s look at why “tóxicas” are even considered tóxicas. “Extreme jealousy, short-tempers, screaming fits, and controlling tendencies”: sure, these don’t characterize all Latinas, but for the Latina content creators that use the hashtag (who should be the only ones using it), these do seem to hit on the nail, but how come? First of all, think about the incredible machismo Latinas endure throughout most likely their entire lives. Fathers come home late to a clean house and dinner on their plates, brothers can’t do their own chores, and uncles speak however they please. All in all, it’s a very manly-man world for a lot of us Latinas, and I, for one, am not interested in seeing any of those toxic masculinities in my own relationships and future family. If I feel anxious, unvalued, unheard, or disrespected, I may react in a way that can be considered “toxic,” but that toxicity has matured from fear and silence into a way to survive and demand respect. 

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The Cringiness of Portraying “La tóxica” Online

This one simple concept is why I find the content creation surrounding “La Tóxica” to be so cringy and annoying…especially coming from creators who are not Latina! The girl I mentioned before, with three million followers, is literally profiting financially from the overly sexualized and aggressive stereotypes that society has unfairly placed on Latinas. My beef with the situation also comes from the fact that “said creator” has been actively deleting comments that Latinas are leaving her, explaining to her why her videos are harmful and blocking accounts that are calling her out. She knows what she is doing and she refuses to stop or even acknowledge it —once again, silencing the voices of Latinas, and it’s more than played out. Besides one problematic Tiktoker, these harmful stereotypes are seen as nothing more than a “trend” for so many people online. And as unserious social media is, using a group of people’s trauma responses as a way to be “cute and quirky” for a “fun little post” just reads as being more disconnected and ignorant than anything. 

As a Latina, and as a girl lovingly referred to as someone’s son’s “tóxica,” I think there needs to be more discussion about the way we are perceived by society and even within our communities and families. You can be Latina and not be una tóxica; you can be anything but Latina and still embody these characteristics. But to la tóxicas who are loud, respected, and proud of being every ounce of you that you are, keep doing that and more. Simply, our “spicy” existence should not be for anyone’s profit or laughs (BESIDES OURS!)

Gabriela Guevara

CU Boulder '23

I am passionate about happiness and the freedom for people to feel love. As I am working towards a degree in Political Science and Ethnic Studies, & eventually law, I hope to inspire people to reflect, learn, and spread light. Thank you for reading my words! xoxo