An Instagram Influencer And Actress Threw A Mexican-Themed Birthday For Her Daughter And Her Fans Are Divided
Cultural appropriation is a touchy subject. It’s one of those topics that encourages fierce debate and is also very open to interpretation. For some cultures, to be embraced by those outside their communities in such a way is an honor to their customs and beliefs. For other cultures, it’s systematic of a problem that began thousands of years ago with European colonizers.
In other words, it’s a complicated and emotional topic that is impossible to definitively nail down but easy to grow angry over.
Which is why one Instagram influencer mom and the Mexican-themed party that she threw for her daughter’s birthday is getting so much attention.
Writer, actress and blogger, Eva Amurri Martino recently posted pictures to her Instagram account of her daughter Marlowe’s fifth birthday. The party included her daughter wearing a Puebla dress and Day of the Dead Sugar Skull face paint, a “Cinco de Marlowe” cake, and a taco piñata. Along with the pics, Martino included a caption that explained the reason for the Mexican theme. Referencing her daughter’s upbringing by “incredible Latin women” and the child’s first language of Spanish, the actress expressed Marlowe’s love for the Mexican culture and the Disney movie “Coco.”
The caption reads:
“Anybody who knows Marlowe knows she is obsessed with Mexico- she has had incredible Latin women taking care of her from three weeks old, and one in particular from Mexico who would always call her “cinco de Marlowe” on May 5th. Spanish was actually Marlowe’s first language before English, which made me really proud that she was getting so much from another culture. We moved from Los Angeles, but when the movie Coco came out, Marlowe loved it and felt really connected to it because she had heard about a lot of the themes of the movie from people she cares about. She wanted all these things brought together for her fifth birthday since she was finally, actually turning “cinco”!”
Besides being fans of Mexican culture, Martino wanted to shed light on the issues at the border.
According to the the actress’ Instagram post, she has acknowledged the travesty at the border by writing about it, donating to worthy causes and calling her local representatives. She also included a link to her blog where she has written about family separation.
“From when this all first started, we have been donating to those affected- and I also wrote a blog post which I’m putting in my bio. (unfortunately, this has been going on a long time so the post is from a while ago. Please comment on it with additional charities you love). We also have been calling our senators.”
While she clearly explained the reasons for her theme of choice, many commentators on Twitter and Instagram were quick to call this a case of cultural appropriation.
This Twitter user attributed Martino’s later explanation of the party as “White” guilt. They also expressed their opinion that her comments amounted to little more than a fake apology.
This Tweet admitted that, though they didn’t know who Martino is, they felt as if she needed to stop.
We won’t argue that white people are one of the main perpetrators of cultural appropriation but remember that everyone can be guilty of this and all marginalized cultures can be appropriated from. That’s one of the reasons why cultural appropriation is so contentious.
This Insta comment expressed offense over the theme but appreciated the explanation attached to it.
It seems like there would be a big difference between appreciation and appropriation but this is another gray area. One group’s version of appreciation can be offensive to the group being borrowed from. Perspective is what determines it in the end.
However, some found no problem with Martino’s party theme choice.
This Insta user from Mexico expressed her appreciation for the party’s theme. As the comment says, it’s important to teach kids to respect and value other cultures as much as they do their own. If this party is able to accomplish that, then it’s a success.
Other Instagram users spoke to the sense of community and celebration that the Mexican culture has.
Mexicans have a reputation for being family-oriented fans of a good time. So, naturally, a party honoring Mexican culture is a good way to pay tribute to this.
Still, while some Mexican descendants might feel honored by this party, others might be offended. Likewise, while some white people might say that it’s no big deal, some might call it out for cultural appropriation. That’s what’s difficult about cases like this. We won’t solve cultural appropriation today but let’s all agree to respect each other and extend an invite to the next big fiesta we throw.