Commentary: Racism with a bite
SAN DIEGO -- Real women eat tacos.
A reader demands to know when I'm going to stop writing about "this so-called phony racist (expletive) that Latinos are being discriminated against."
Maybe when we no longer have to put up with stories like that of 17-year-old Domonique Ramirez, a Mexican-American and ousted Miss San Antonio who was told by an Anglo pageant official to lose weight and "get off the tacos."
This story originated in the world of beauty pageants, but it's still as ugly as they come. It's either a case of racism or "sizeism." Or both. And if you need help seeing what's so offensive, imagine a Jewish girl being told to stay away from bagels, an African-American being warned to avoid fried chicken ...
I prefer an amusing commercial featuring Mexican actress Salma Hayek in a restaurant kitchen devouring tacos while a group of movie executives wait for her at a table. When she joins them, she forgoes the menu and declares that she is watching her figure.
It's a great spot because it shows an attractive actress doing something we don't often see Hollywood starlets doing: eating and enjoying food.
In a country where many young women combat anorexia, I hope young Latinas -- including the two cuties back home who call me "daddy" -- grow up to see the world, and their bodies, more like the people who created the Hayek commercial and less like, to borrow from Charlie Sheen, the "trolls" who get their kicks coming up with creative and cruel ways to put down girls for not having what they consider perfect bodies.
People like Linda Woods, the socially impaired president of the Miss San Antonio pageant board who admitted on a radio show that she made the tacos comment but claimed that it was only "because (Ramirez) is 17 and that's what these kids eat."
Really? Visit a fast-food joint during a high school's lunch hour, and you'll see that "these kids" also munch down pizza, hamburgers, milkshakes and fries. But for some reason, Woods didn't tell Ramirez to avoid those fatty foods.
Ramirez -- who weighs 129 pounds and wears a size 2 -- was ultimately stripped of her title and scholarship.
Woods claims that Ramirez violated her contract by showing up late to appearances and taking an non-sanctioned modeling assignment.
Ramirez sued. Texas District Judge Cathy Stryker rejected her request for a court order to keep her title. Stryker set March 14 for trial if Ramirez wants to continue her lawsuit.
Regardless of how this plays out in court, Woods should be dumped from the Miss San Antonio organization. Does this institution really want to see its image tarnished by continuing to be represented by someone who acts so boorishly? Besides, given that San Antonio is more than 60 percent Latino, do the pageant's sponsors really want to associate themselves and their brands with such comments?
Fearing that I might be making too much of this, I reached out an expert on Latinas and their self-image. Screenwriter Josefina Lopez helped movie audiences understand that -- as her film is titled -- "Real Women Have Curves." But she still doesn't understand how thickheaded some people can be when it comes to weight.
"When are people going to get it that beauty comes in all sizes?" Lopez told me. "It's ridiculous that they keep emphasizing that (Ramirez) ate too many tacos, almost making it a racial insult. I hope she gets her crown back and shows people that being a beauty queen isn't just about beauty but about standing on your throne and fighting injustice too!"
Woods insists that this story isn't about race and that, her comments about tacos not withstanding, Ramirez's weight "has nothing to do with why she is not Miss San Antonio anymore."
If you believe any of that, I've got a building in San Antonio to sell you. It needs a little work, but it's a classic. Go downtown and look for the Alamo.
Ruben Navarrette's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.