When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took office at the beginning of 2019, she wore hoops and red lipstick as a nod to her culture. Though many lauded her choice, the truth is that for many women – especially those that belong to communities of color – these cultural markers earn them snide comments in the workplace. And apparently, even being a successful journalist with a platform won’t protect you from this scrutiny. Back in 2017, an unnamed woman told MSNBC correspondent Mariana Atencio not to dress “too Latina” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, something she documents in her new book, Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real.
Ahead of the dinner, she received a phone call from a manager who questioned Atencio on her attire for the evening. “It was a weird phone call – with an even weirder request,” the Venezuelan journalist writes. “‘Why do you ask?’ I replied. ‘Please don’t look too Latina.’ At first, I thought I didn’t hear correctly. ‘I beg your pardon?’ I asked. ‘When you pick your outfit, I mean. Don’t look too Latina.’”
The manager then suggested she go to Saks Fifth Avenue and have someone help her pick out something that wasn’t “too colorful or tight” but more “Ivanka Trump.”