“Dirty Latino” Stereotype? Chale!

“…results of a new study [by Univision] called “Why Latinos Look So Good”…revealed [that] 34% of Latino men shower twice a day vs. 16% of non-Latino men. Now, that statistic can be partly explained by the fact that Latinos predominantly live in warmer areas of the country (mainly the South and Southwest) or that their line of work may require a second shower in a day. But who cares why? All I hear is ka-ching! Calling all marketers of soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, after-shave, face cream, etc… ” – Chiqui Cartagena

My husband, Carlos, takes at least two showers a day – sometimes three, even in the winter time and even on weekends when he hasn’t gone to work. Our older son is the same… our youngest son is another story. He forgets to shower if we don’t remind him, but I think he’s just being a typical little boy at this point.

Carlos is also obsessive about his teeth. He’s a dental hygienist’s dream-come-true. Who else can honestly answer “yes” to the dreaded question, “Do you remember to floss daily?” – (Carlos does!) … The products he requires for regular maintenance may even out number mine; Soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, deodorant, body spray, body lotion, eye drops, hair gel, face lotion, foot cream, toothpaste, mouthwash… believe it or not, the list goes on.

Just a few of Carlos's products.

When women have complained to me in the past about how their husbands leave stinky socks lying around and such, I never knew how to respond. “Don’t you hate that?” they’d say – but I’m more likely to leave a pile of dirty laundry on the floor than Carlos is. His side of the closet? Neat and tidy – Even his T-shirts are on hangars. My side of the closet? A complete disaster – piles of clothing, not even folded properly. It’s the same story with shoes. Carlos has sneakers which are many years old but look brand new. He can’t understand how I manage to beat my shoes up the way I do… (I’m not so sure either to be honest.)

Carlos's side of the closet.

My side of the closet.

Carlos’s cleanliness extends beyond the home and to his vehicle. It may be the last $5 he has in his pocket, but if his car looks dirty, he brings it to the car wash. I remember when the kids were little they were scared to drop so much as a Cheerio in Daddy’s car. (My car on the other hand, probably still has a Cheerio or two crushed into the carpet from their toddler days. My kids are 12 and 9, by the way.)

Over the years I decided that maybe because Carlos came from an impoverished childhood, he just values his belongings more than I do. I also decided that he is just a perfectionist, which has its benefits. (Though the disadvantage is when he tries to force his standards of perfection on very imperfect, laid-back me!)

Now that I come upon this study, I wonder, is this obsessive grooming/cleanliness a Latino male thing? Is it cultural? What do you think?

24 thoughts on ““Dirty Latino” Stereotype? Chale!

  1. Tracy,

    I can relate to both Carlos’ grooming and organization habits and to the dynamics and contrast between you and him (similar to the contrast between me and my wife).

    It sounds like Carlos and I come from similar backgrounds (lower-middle class/blue collar Latin America) and yes, definitely there was great pride in cleanliness. Growing up, showering at least once a day was mandatory and enforced at school (and I lived in a colder climate, high in the mountains). Also, being poor and having few nice clothes that you would want to wear often required that you take care of them and wash them regularly and meticulously. And I knew of people poorer than me who had dirt floors in their house which they kept meticulously swept and neat.

    So “dirty latino”? – my ass! (which is quite clean).


    • Rubén – LOL at your last sentence there.

      Thanks for relating your experience. I love hearing about your life in Colombia.

  2. I don’t know… I don’t even have a shower everyday (sometimes I forget, like your youngest son).
    Of course, mi closet is impecable. I like to be well dressed and clean. I also smell nice all the time.
    Maybe it’s a characteristic of latin men, don’t you think?

    • I don’t know, Federico. It could be. This study I quoted wasn’t especially big so I look forward to the comments here to see if they can give further insight. Most Latino men I’ve known definitely take care of themselves though and like to smell nice.

      But then again, my (Anglo) father, has a lot of the same habits as my husband. He’s a very clean person in general.

  3. Your hubby and my hubby sound like they are brothers from another mother! LOL

    My hubby is the exact same way. When we lived in the States, Hubby would take a shower twice a day. Once before leaving for work, so he didn’t smell and then again when he came home, so he didn’t smell like sweat and to relax. He only showers once a day here in Mexico, mostly because turning on the boiler and waiting for the water to warm up is too much of a hassle.

    Hubby also takes much better care of his face, body, clothes and shoes than I do. I like to tease him by singing this song when he’s taking too long to get ready. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0-BqONdyVE

    • Awh man! What is the song, Leslie? YouTube won’t let me see it because “This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment. It is not available in your country.” — That’s never happened to me before. I thought it was only other countries that suffer with those silly rules on YouTube… Oh the humanity!… LOL. What is the song?! jijiji…

  4. My Husby likes to shower whenever he feels the slightest bit greasy/dirty. If he gets a eensy weensy stain on his clothes, it’s enough to cause a full blown change of outfit. I tell him, “YOU’RE NOT KIM KARDASHIAN!” and block his way to the closet/bathroom. But my Dad, on the other hand, takes only one 5-minute shower a day. FIVE MINUTES. What can you possibly clean REALLY well in 5 minutes? He’s a landscaper. He works out in the sun and sweats 1000 gallons of sweat a day. And comes home and showers for 5 MINUTES. It’s not sanitary.

    I think it’s how men are raised. My Husby didn’t have a Mom growing up, so he pretty much taught himself to be clean and stay clean. My Dad was the baby of the men team (there’s 13 of ’em), so mi Abuela would baby the crap out of him. Folded, ironed his clothes and kept him tidy. Now it’s my Mom’s responsibility to make sure my Dad doesn’t leave the house looking like a monkey and smelling like one too (on days she’s upset, she’ll let him leave that way).

    I remember I dated a white guy in high school. He stunk! That’s the extent of my hygiene experience with white people :P

    • LOL, Trina. Te prometo, not all white people stink. Most of us actually smell like cookies and rainbows.

      …jijiji… Seriously, I think that in any culture/race/ethnicity you’re going to have people who care about hygiene and those who don’t. 90% of my time was spent around white people growing up, family and non-family, and some people stink, and others don’t. Teenage boys especially go through a phase where they haven’t yet realized the importance of fresh socks and deodorant… most of them catch on though. Gym class was hell on my sensitive nose.

      Your comment did remind me though – one of Carlos’s Tíos doesn’t use deodorant or many products at all. He also uses the same shirt a few times before washing it. He’s kind of a hippy – very much into protecting the environment. I’m usually cool with “natural scents”… but his was a little strong at times. LOL. In Europe it seemed to me that most everyone smelled more “natural” … again, not a bad thing for most people… (MOST…not all.)

  5. I read this report a couple of days ago when it first came out and it kind of tickled me at first because I thought the same thing. Of course the statistic is going to be different if the job types are so varied, and it also made me question their findings because I myself am nowhere near this scenario. Like Federico and your youngest son I am much more likely to forget to shower every once in a while, and I do not like using “male grooming” products all that much…well, at least not when thinking too much about it.

    So I decided to go through my things and see how much of this crap I actually had. It turns out I’ve got quite a bit of things in there. I’m working on a vlog to really highlight the products in my closet. Ahi te cuento :-)

  6. I can’t relate. He’ll shower once a day but he skips over the lotions, powders, and stuff. Um, he’ll occasionally use cologne. Sometimes I wish he would take a second shower in a day. My man stinks from stress; he works in a high stress abusive office environment. Neatness is not in his vocabulary. He’s very disorganized both at home & at work. Hubby is an only child and was incredibly spoiled by his mom (she’s deceased). I think that’s why he’s so messy.

  7. I think it must be something we’re born with…my husband will “forget” to shower…but I don’t know how that’s possible. My daughter is the same way…and she’s a girl!! But my older son is a neat freak…takes a bath all the time, changes when his clothes get the slightest stain…just this morning he freaked out because he got milk on his shirt before school…we actually had to put it in the dryer because he didn’t want to wear a different one! And Diego lives in the water…but he’s only two. We’ll see when he’s older.

    I love the variety of topics you always talk about…I never know what I’m gonna read here!

  8. When hubby goes out for parties he will take a good shower, shave and all that. During the week he works overnites and so sometimes he showers when he gets home and sometime he showers when he wakes up in the afternoon and sometimes he showers before he goes to work. I have seen him in a rush and forget to shower but he drives a forklift most of the time so he is not a stinky one. I do have to say that he uses more products than me- loves lotions and creams. Has to wash his hair every time he showers- sometimes even twice. (?!?) But as for neatness- he wants everything around him to be neat but he doesnt want to be the one to do it. He wants me to be neat. LOL. Well- I get around to it sooner or later. lol.

  9. Great post Tracy! I have to add, my hubby is also the same…very neat, clean and likes to dress well (ie. matching, accessories, etc.). I can barely manage to match my clothes! We have a joke in our family that he’s always trying to show me up when we go out because he is so much more fashionable than me. ;)

  10. Maybe Carlos and my dad are somehow related! Ditto on the clothes, car, and men’s products. My dad always smells so nice. It’s like living in the cologne section of Macys. You can “smell” my dad before he walks into a room. My dad was a Marine, so they had to be in perfect. clean, iron uniform that’s where I thought he got it from but it could be a cultural thing. Very interesting.

    P.S. I’ve never seen any dirty article of clothing anywhere around the house.

  11. No sabía que los Latinos tenían fama de “chucos”. No ha sido mi experiencia.
    Hombres (y mujeres) sucias hay en todas partes, y vienen en todos colores y tamaños.
    Gracias a DIos mi esposo es bien limpio y ordenado. No anda con miles de lociones, cremas, mascarillas etc. Lo básico: jabón, shampoo, desodorante y perfumito rico nada de perfume “7 Machos”!

  12. oh man ke chistoso…mi novio es igualito… i just consider him metro… pero aveces me enfada … he takes longer than me to get ready…and aveces se parece criticon… im mean im not gonna lie i like to have “scrubby days” no shower…no teeth brushing… coffee smelling breath…just watching re-runs -type of day…u wouldnt catch him dead doing that lol

  13. My husband is the same way. CLEAN AND TIDY. I am the one more likely to clutter the house. When we were dating I was completely blown away by the military precision his bed was made with and the minimalist treatment of his meagre belongings. His vehicle was always spotless inside and out and he always smelled good too. You can’t underestimate the value of a clean smelling body.
    He also grew up in a poor household, they even lived without power half the year! In Canada!
    He is more likely to fix something that’s broken than buy a new thing, and he takes good care of what he has… I am hoping these great traits rub off on our boys. I am not a dirty person, but I’m not as spic’n’span as my husband

  14. Pingback: Weekend Favorites – 3/27/11 | A Day in My NYC

  15. Super hilarious! My guy is so neat that it’s almost obsessive compulsion. He has all these crazy little routines to clean everything every day and takes multiple showers sometimes.

  16. My husband is IMO not either “type”. He is lazy and leaves his shoes and dirty socks wherever he may be sitting, and he will lay down on the concrete in his new clothes to check the tire pressure. He also LOVES new shoes and clothes, “trims” his eyebrows and facial hair daily, and will know about a new fashion trend before I will. He has NEVER gone to bed without brushing his teeth or taking shower, and thinks I’m kinda gross since I shower in the mornings. It’s such a weird combination, lol. He wants to look good, smell good, and have nice things, but once he has them on, he just runs around like he’s wearing sweats! Drives me crazy, lol. Then again, my Mexican BIL (married to his sister) is a clean FREAK! Takes an hour shower and will leave the bathroom cleaner then when he went in it. His shoes are constantly being scrubbed and polished and he wears gloves and a mask when he does a project such as dusting or vacuuming. My husband and his brothers love to tease him “Este guey esta tan limpio, ni siente cuando esta en su propio bano!”

  17. I’m glad someone else can relate to this! Mi esposo is a bather, too. And his familia? Even worse! When they come to visit we barely can go anywhere it takes them so long to get ready and then I can barely ride in the car with them because of all the perfume (I admit I’m super sensitive to smells and perfume makes me sick). And if we go one place in the morning and then another at night… it’s baths again for todos. Hijole! I attribute it to the fact that the town where they’re from in Mexico is literally as hot and humid as the bowels of hell must be — and I know because I’ve lived there — but honestly I’ve never been able to get my head around all the grooming. And the worst part? Getting asked over and over, “Y no te quieres banar?” LOL

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