General Question

SergeantQueen's avatar

Why would someone lie about their heritage?

Asked by SergeantQueen (11169points) 3 weeks ago

“Hilaria” Baldwin (Alec Baldwins wife) claims she raised in Spain when actuality she grew up in Boston and just vacationed in Spain. She changed her name from Hilary To Hilaria (Spanish) and pretends not to know English that well.

The article states that her agency has a bio about her. And in that bio it says “Baldwin was born in Mallorca, Spain and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.” But on her Insta it says she was born in Boston.

She has been faking an accent too according to some people.

But I am not one for celebrity gossip or drama. I am just sharing the reason behind my question, for context. This applies to celebrities and non-celebrities.

Why pretend to be someone you aren’t and go as far as to fake an accent, name all your kids Hispanic names (which is totally fine, but given the context of faking your heritage it is a bit weird), and even pretend not to know English words?

My last name is Puerto Rican (My first name is a Spanish word as well), my Great Grandparents came from Puerto Rico, but I was born in America. I wouldn’t pretend to have been raised in Puerto Rico and/or be apart of that culture when I’m not. It seems fake and rude. That isn’t my culture and I don’t pretend it is. So I cannot understand why they would do it. Maybe for attention, but if you aren’t a celebrity??? What attention are you getting??

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31 Answers

SergeantQueen's avatar

I should add her parents aren’t even from Spain. She was just a visiting tourist. She has no right to make it her heritage when it isn’t. Participating in certain Cultural things like making food from Spain? Sure. But faking an accent is weird as all hell.

SergeantQueen's avatar

It’s one thing to embrace other cultures and to experiment and enjoy what other cultures offer but it’s another to say “I am this culture” when you aren’t.


End rant on that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

This happens from time to time. Not so long ago this woman who was white, tried to pass as black. She was a college professor, and was canned for her lying and various counts of fraud.

I don’t know the psychology of it – maybe people see themselves as something special or they want attention.

As far as the Baldwin thing goes – so what? If he is OK with it, then it’s not my business, except as a curiosity. Hardly a thing to be outraged about.

SergeantQueen's avatar

I am not outraged too badly. Just irritated more so at the comments on her post totally supporting her and saying its “cute” to forget the English version of words. Like… No. It isn’t. I have seen people get made fun of pretty badly for not being able to speak proper English so I am sure for most ESL people it’s just embarrassing (but I am also not speaking for them all) But whatever. I just think it’s stupid but it’s her life and she must deal with the consequences.

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kritiper's avatar

Because they are ashamed of it.
My great grandmother, on Dad’s side, was ½ Cherokee. So that made Gram ¼ Cherokee. And she would turn very brown when out in the sun so that she would be seen as a “breed.” (Half breed, mixed race.) And in 1910’s Oklahoma to boot.
She never talked about this, but whenever she would go out to work in the yard with us kids, she’d get all covered up with a long shirt, gloves and a big hat to keep from getting tanned. To us kids she’d say it was because she was allergic to the sun!

stanleybmanly's avatar

What does it matter? What sort of fraud can there be? Who is she cheating? Why would her status be elevated with a claim of Spanish heritage? Is she ashamed of Boston? In the end, who gives a shit and WHY?

kritiper's avatar

Possibly, like my grandmother, it matters to her.

zenvelo's avatar

Being “from Spain” is a lot more exotic and mysterious than being from Boston. How much nicer to get asked about paella and not asked about the Red Sox or Fenway and are you Southie?

But then the lie gets told so much you can’t back out of it. Think of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos deal.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@kritiper your grandma’s reasoning makes sense, but what possible drop in status accompanies being born or reared on Boston? I can understand passing yourself off as heir to the British throne or some such nonsense, but a false claim of Spanish heritage from someone living in America? Americans have about as much regard for Spanish lineage as I do Chinese trigonometry.

Mimishu1995's avatar

There was a certain girl in my country who also pulled this trick, but in a much more disgusting way. She is Vietnamese, but claims to be a Korean immigrant, and went on her way to fake Korean accent. She has a Youtube and FB account where she posts frequently about her mundane “Korean immigrant” life, teaching people Korean, trying to learn about Vietnamese culture, things like that. She even makes and sings her own music. She even went on TV to sing for talent shows and kept up with the lie of being a Korean. In reality, she appears to be a model for a makeup class, and her “songs” are just other songs from other artists with her own lyrics. Her singing isn’t that good anyway.

I feel a bit sorry for her though. She seems to have problems with self-esteem and want to be someone famous. She can’t fool anyone with her lies, so this is mostly just her lying to herself at this point.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Thread looks like a private conversation.

I can’t speak for the woman in your example, but I can list a number of reasons.

* Religious persecution. Jews hid their religion/heritage during the holocaust. Right now, in China, Uyghurs are being “deprogrammed”. There are concentration camps where terrible torture reportedly takes place around the clock. This
episode of PBS Frontline is an hour of intensive insight to the bigotry, China is doing this to Mongolian people, and anyone they view as substandard cultures.
Check out Turkish Christians.

* Trends. If a particular culture, or race is trending as extra cool, some people start digging through their family tree.

* To blend in to a new environment.

Have you heard of Rachel Dolezal, who is a white woman that was the president of an NAACP chapter? She was outed as caucasian, but says she identified as black. Some people are just nut cases.

JLeslie's avatar

Did she write the bio that lies about where she was born? If not I won’t accuse her of lying, someone else got it wrong.

Also, if she spent a lot of time in Spain growing up then she did grow up in Spain.

If she spoke English while in Spain she probably adopted that accent and can switch in and out if it. Ever been to Miami? Some parts of Miami people born and raised in America speak English with a Cuban-American accent, because that is the English spoken all around them.

I lived in Michigan during college and can say out and about just like them and say pop instead of soda no problem. When in Rome. I lived in the South and use y’all sometimes. I grew up with parents from The Bronx, and can sound very NY when with New Yorkers. I’m not taking it, it’s natural for humans to adjust to the group.

I went to elementary school in NY and at age 9 moved to DC. Most people think I was born in NY. I was born in DC! Read that carefully. I was born in DC, and moved to NY when I was 18 months old, but a lot of people don’t know that part and assume I was born in NY because I talk about memories there when I was very little.

I’m not going to assume this woman is a liar. Maybe she strongly identifies with Spain.

Some people change their name for their career. My SIL told her daughter to basically lie about where she was born, which pissed me off. I think because she doesn’t want her daughter associated with that country. My BIL changed his first name to make it less likely people would guess he is Mexican or Latin American. We thought that was ridiculous too. A friend of mine in TV journalism said a lot of people in her field were changing their surnames to Spanish names to get jobs. Not long ago Jews changed their names to hide they were Jewish. Some people shorten long names for ease. Some anglicize their names to make it easier.

You wrote you have a Puerto Rican name, what is that? Spanish? I don’t mean tell us your name, I just mean what nationality is your Puerto Rican name? My husband is Mexican our last name is Middle Eastern, and his mom’s last names are Spanish and French.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll add that the clip where she says she moved here when I was 18 to go to NYU can easily mean she lived to NY at 18. Also, she says she knows no pop culture, which can be true for any American too.

I just feel like people are purposefully building a case against her that is clipped together and edited.

Does her family live in Majorca?

She went to school only in Boston k-12 is that right?

Here’s her Wikipedia I don’t know if it was recently changed?

Demosthenes's avatar

I don’t know; it’s a strange thing to do. I’m white but ethnically Mexican on my dad’s side. I used to sometimes simply omit that part of my heritage when I was a teenger because I grew up in an area where being Hispanic was associated with being “ghetto” and I wanted to be seen as “white”. I take ownership of it now, but I didn’t always. I can only guess that people like Baldwin feel shame in their true heritage or feel that some other identity is more interesting and lucrative and they adopt it as their own in an attempt to be someone else.

Zaku's avatar

I can imagine all sorts of reasons why theoretical people might choose to affect a different heritage.

For someone to do it so fully as you describe, suggests to me some of them and not some others, but I can still think of many possible reasons.

Mainly I would think it would be about other people’s reactions and prejudices.

Pandora's avatar

Sometimes people want to adopt what feels natural to them and don’t believe genetics or where they were actual born matter. I assume it’s like the way some old people dress or behave like they are 20. Some people figure they only have one life and they will be whatever they want to be. Is it offensive? It would depend if they do it to mock the culture or to celebrate it and want to be a part of it. I met a white girl in Puerto Rico who spoke fluent Spanish and I thought was Puerto Rican. She had moved there as a kid and to her Puerto Ricans are her people. She loves the island as much as any Puerto Rican born there. She loves the people and the language. She knows she’s white but in her words, she has a Puerto Rican soul.
People love what they love and what they can connect with. I’ve met Puerto Ricans who don’t connect with their culture.
I think it happens when there is a void in a persons life. They try to attach to what they know. A cat and dog know that they aren’t the same species as us but they feel a part of the pack.We all have that desire to belong.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The classy actress from the 1950s, Hillary Brooke , did that, too.
From the source above:
”(she) was born Beatrice Peterson to a middle-class American family in Long Island, NY… Always a beauty, she had a successful career as a photographer’s model before breaking into show business. Her “British” accent came about when she realized that she was just one of innumerable tall, good-looking blondes vying for roles, and needed something to make her stand out among them. She came up with affecting a British accent and it worked; she began to get more and more roles that called for a “British” blonde, so she kept the accent.”

gondwanalon's avatar

Perhaps we are all to (some degree) guilty of manufacturing our own reality as we see it.

I have an Irish sounding last name. My older Sisters revel in being Irish. However my DNA test shows that I’m 86% German, 10% indigenous American and 4% Asian. My Sisters don’t believe it and refuse to take the DNA test even though I paid for it for them. They’re happy living with their belief that they are Irish. They don’t want truth to get in the way.

JLeslie's avatar

I just spent almost a minute trying to remember the English word cabbage. Lol. Made me think of this Q.

zenvelo's avatar

This thread reminds me of a friend’s sister. Tracy was born in Texas, grew up in California age 12, then went to high school in London.

When she came back to the US for College, she was no longer Tracy but Tasha, and had quite the upper class British accent was quite the Sloane Ranger..Now in her mid fifties, she still goes by Tasha.

Pandora's avatar

Oh, by the way. Accents sometimes can be done unconsciously. I was born and raised in NYC for the first 20 years of my life. For the next near 40 I’ve been all over the place but for a huge chunk I lived in NC. For a long while I would get a southern accent whenever I would speak with someone who had a strong southern accent and when I would drive north my accent would start to disappear. I did not do it on purpose. My husband use to get mad at me thinking I was mocking the person I was speaking with. It’s just that when you live in an area where just about everyone has an accent, I think you forget how the words sounded to you before and start to speak what you currently hear. With enough time I guess some people just stay stuck with how those words are pronounced.
I was the opposite. Also when I was younger I was told often I had a Spanish accent. As I’ve gotten older I rarely hear anyone say that any more. But when I do go to Puerto Rico to visit it takes a little bit but I get it back for a little while and then it’s gone when I’m back home.

Yellowdog's avatar

I think Hillaria is Hilarious !!!

JLeslie's avatar

Terrible name. Rhymes with diarrhea. Hill in Spanish would be pronounced ill, the H is silent. ill-a-ree-ah. I defended the girl, but still.

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