Things That Matter

21 Times the Fashion Industry Appropriated Latino Culture

In simple terms, cultural appropriation is when someone improperly and/or thoughtlessly seizes another person’s viewpoints, manners, styles, or practices or anything that associated with that person’s culture.  Typically, people appropriate culture from minorities.

Rock and roll’s early history is a good example of cultural appropriation.   African Americans actually developed the music, but record companies and radio stations only paid attention to Caucasian artist’s recordings.  Consequently, the public believed they originated and owned the music.

For years, the fashion industry has appropriated various cultures.  For example, Marc Jacobs styled his Caucasian models in dreadlocks and Victoria Secret’s donned its models in Native American headdresses.  It does the same to the Latino culture. Unfortunately, much like the rock and roll example, most of the public doesn’t realize when it’s happening.

Here are twenty-one times various individuals or entities from the fashion industry appropriated from the Latino culture.

Gwen Stefani

Ms. Stefani is a clothes designer and fashion icon.  Oftentimes, she wears the “chola” look, which the Urban Dictionary defines as consisting of thin, “angry looking” eyebrows; dark lip liner; flannel shirts; tattoos; facial piercings; lots of gold jewelry; Nikes or Converse sneakers; baggy pants, and, hair gelled down, straight back or in a high pony tail.  Ms. Stefani attended high school in Anaheim, California with many Latinos and says that he classmates’ makeup and clothing choices “mesmerized” her.

The Beautiful Ones:We♥It@The Beautiful Ones

Kendall and Kylie Jenner

Kendall and Kylie Jenner are also clothes designers and fashion icons.  In 2017, they posed in chola outfits and makeup.  They initially told critics to “get over it, ” but later apologized.  (Note: this wasn’t the first time people accused the Jenner’s of cultural appropriation)

KendallandKylie. Digital August 28, 2017


In Givenchy’s  fall 2015 show, creative director Riccardo Tisci gelled the fine hairs on the models hairlines (a style both Latino and African American woman wear and call “baby hairs.”), put jewels     on their faces, and dressed them in Victorian clothes.  He then called them his “Chola Victorian” girls.  Furthermore, he     did not acknowledge the Latino community and did not use models of color.  

Givenchy.Digital Image.Marie Claire.March 10, 2015

Lucy Hale

In January 2017, the Pretty Liars actress posted on social media a head shot in which she wears “baby hairs.” She even commented that the style came to good use at a photo shoot. Followers noted that her hair didn’t properly reflect the style and she then deleted the post. Fashion Magazine also pointed out that when African American and Latino women sport the style, it’s labeled “hood” and “ghetto,” but when Caucasian women wear it, it’s trendy.

Twitter/Lucy Digital Image.Hale.Fashion Magazine.January 26, 2017


the popular singer appeared on the cover of the September 2018 issue of British Vogue sporting extremely thin eyebrows.  Such insulted Krysty Chavez, social media editor at Marie Claire, who wondered why Rihanna was     wearing what’s normally known as chola brows.  She actually wrote “WTF” and recalled how mothers of Mexican and Mexican-American girls feared they would wear such eyebrows.

Rihanna Eyebrows.Digital Image.Hello!.August 1, 2018

Rihanna and Karreuche Tran

The singer appears on the list again, along with her actress/model friend.  On Halloween 2017, the ladies wore opened flannel shirts, bright red lipstick, and baggy pants.  They then posted photos of themselves on social media.  Rihanna even painted a bullet hole on her chest.  The  costumes only perpetuated negative, gang-like stereotypes.

Karr.Digital Image.Hispanic Culture Blog Spot.December 6, 2017

Nina Dobrev

Twitter followers chastised the Vampire Diaries star when she dressed up in “Day of the Dead” makeup and attire. The Mexican holiday celebrates loved ones who have passed. Critics didn’t appreciate how Ms. Dobrev overlooked the holiday’s sacredness.

Nina Dobrev Halloween Costuem: PopBuzz@TV & Film

Lana Del Rey

In the short film Tropico, Ms. Del Rey portrays a Latino-American gangster. Objectors noted how the entertainment industry routinely casts Caucasian actors in Latino roles and believes it makes them look Latino by donning them in stereotypical clothes.

Lana Del Rey Tropico Tattoos:Fandom@Lana Del Rey Wiki


The company sells numerous ethnic inspired merchandises. The tagline for its Aztec purse reads: “They invented chewing gum and chocolate, but surely the Aztecs’ greatest achievement was inspiring these fresh prints.” The Aztec people were remarkable engineers and designers. In addition to creating a stunning city that had canals, causeways, and aqueducts, they made gorgeous jewelry, developed a hieroglyphic script, put together an intricate calendar, and built temples and pyramids. To say that they only invented snacks and that their utmost success inspired a handbag, demeans and insults them.

ASOS.Digital Image. Jezebel.October 5, 2012


The designers for this fashion brand claimed that the “real” L.A. girl spurred their 2014 spring/summer line, which consisted of fringed leather skirts, bra tops, large belts, backward caps, and animal prints. The Guardian remarked that it expected the models to come onto the runway to Ricky Martin’s La Vida Loca.

Flared Ruffle Detailed Dress: Pinterest@EastLA

Mercado Global

This non-profit, donor funded company forms partnerships with Guatemalan artisan women and helps them market their woven textiles to well-known American retailers and also sells its own work.  Such allows the women to preserve their craft, support their families, and earn money, which then helps them stay out of poverty.

Mercado Global.Digital Image.Mercado

Carolina K

This company markets fashions created by artists working under fair trade agreements.  Argentinian designer, Carolina Kleinman (Carolina K), infuses Latino culture into her designs.  One of her pieces, the Cholita Skirt, has bright embroidered flowers and is shaped like a dance skirt.  Indigenous people inspire Ms. Kleinman, who strives to preserve their artistry.

Isabel Marant Etoile

The French designer marketed a blouse with embroidered features that the Muxe community in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec claims it copied from their submissions.  The designer acknowledged that the Tlahuitoltepec community provided the designs and a French court ruled that it didn’t own the rights.  It then pulled the blouse from the market.


The footwear company designed and marketed a shoe called the “Guate Weave Authentic,” which it manufactured with South American style fabric.  The style also reflected the kind skateboarders wore (the Latino Community helped shape the skateboarding industry and its fashions).  Even those who sold the shoes felt the company was culturally appropriating Latino style.


Urban Outfitters

The prominent retailer once offered a Mochila Bag (Mochila means bag) that sold well. Women of the Colombian Wayuu tribe use dyed cotton to hand weave Mochila Bags. Yet, the company gives the women little credit and hardly any profit.

Women’s Blue Ecote Mochila Woven Bucket Bag:Lyst@Urban Outfitters

The Mochila Project

The project recognizes that the Mochila bags are vital to the Wayuu people’s lifestyle and economy.  Mothers also pass down the weaving skills to their daughters, so it additionally represents tradition.  

Nabusimake02.Digital Image.The Mochila

Jennifer Lawrence/Christian Dior

Escaramuza charra, Mexico’s rodeo-like sport, inspired Dior’s most recent designs. Critics, however, wondered why it used Ms. Lawrence, instead of a Latino woman, to model the collection.


Two sisters in Utah established this company after a trip to Mexico.  They loved the textiles and the people.  They were eager to establish a working relationship that benefitted all of them.  They women note on their website that they admire the Latino culture and people and want to raise funds to help support them.  Users of social media nonetheless criticized their use of Caucasian models and accused them of cultural appropriation, which the sisters feel is unfair and wrong.


TOMS: in 2015, this shoe company offered a line of sandals inspired by ancient indigenous Mexican tribes. Centuries ago, such tribes designed and handmade sandals known as huaraches. While the company previously marketed its alpargatas (a classic Argentinian jute shoe) with a “buy one, give one” offer that that provided an impoverished child with a pair of shoes each time a consumer purchased one for themselves.  Mexicans, nonetheless objected to the update of the traditional design and viewed it as cultural appropriation. TOMS ad didn’t help matters. It read: “Huraches are no longer Mexican.”

TOMS.Digital Image.Yucatan Times.June 17, 2015

Hoop Earrings

many Latino girls maintain that hoop earrings, especially oversized ones, represent defiance, grit, and character and do not like when Caucasian girls wear them. In 2017, three Pitzer College students painted a mural on which they wrote “White Girl, Take Off Your Hoops, Stop Calling Yourself Mami and Start Respecting Our Existence”. The girls wanted to bring attention to a double standard. Historically, when Latino women and other women of color wear hoop earrings and other Latino-associated fashions, others see them as ghetto and don’t take them seriously. Yet, when Caucasian women don the fashions, others call them fashion forward and consider them innovative.


The Lesson

If you study these examples, you’ll note a steady pattern. Most of the time (emphasis on “most of the time”), people unknowingly appropriate Latino Culture.  They have no desire to hurt anyone and, most of the time (once again, emphasis on “most of the time”), wish to support it.

Reconsider the rock and roll example.  Many critics accused Elvis Presley, the “King” of rock and roll, of culturally appropriating African American music.  Many African Americans, though, insisted that he genuinely supported them and claimed his popular recordings provided opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

Today, however, technology and social media provide tremendous access to knowledge.  Anyone, should they wish, can learn all they want about an individual’s culture and customs, talk directly to those within the culture, and learn about cultural appropriation error (this is Cultural Appreciation).  Offenders can’t legitimately claim complete oblivion. So, good intentions, oversights, and good wishes only go so far.  Repeated offenses, overtly ignorant statements, and repeated offenses simply can’t be excused.

In all the examples, Latinos weren’t really against others wearing their fashions.  They simply didn’t like others overlooking their heritage, disregarding their traditions, and refusing to acknowledge their ancestry and contributions. They also objected to the double standard, which repeatedly proved, that when the dominate class, Caucasians, mostly, wore their fashions, critics called them pioneering and fresh, yet when they wore the same items, the same people viewed them negatively.

There may be occasions where you disagree with a Latino individual’s claim of cultural appropriation. You may want to say that they’re overreacting or behaving too sensitively. But, when you take time to appreciate from where their pain comes, their history, and investigate these examples, you’ll understand.  Perhaps you’ll even inspire change.

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide


Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Last week, Mexican feminist activists took over the National Human Rights Commissions federal building in a move to bring greater awareness to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that has racked Mexico for decades.

According to the federal Interior Secretariat, the statistics in Mexico have recently taken a turn for the worse.

Domestic violence against women has became an even more acute problem since the pandemic has forced women to stay insider with their abusers. Emergency distress calls reporting domestic violence have risen by 50%.

The occupation of the Human Rights building is just another chapter in the saga of the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More Woman) movement, an anti-femicide collective born in Argentina that has steadily been gaining steam in Mexico since 2019.

In recent years, anti-femicide demonstrations have been sparked by various heinous crimes against women or girls that have been largely overlooked by law enforcement officials. 

Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the government of Mexico has appeared to be apathetic to the wave of femicide that is overwhelming the women of their country.

Recently, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked to address Mexico’s gender violence epidemic, he demurred, stating that he didn’t “want femicide to detract” from the raffle his administration was holding for the sale of the presidential airplane.

As for the feminist activists at the heart of Ni Una Menos and the federal building occupation, the government’s failure to respond to anti-woman violence is the primary fuel for their anger. 

“We’re here so that the whole world will know that in Mexico they kill women and nobody does anything about it,” said Yesenia Zamudio to the LA Times. According to Zamudio, she is still seeking justice for the murder of her 19-year-old daughter four years ago.

The women of Mexico appear to be fed up, grasping at any and all tactics that have the potential to incite change on a grander scale.

Their tactics may seem dramatic to some, but it’s undeniable that they are no longer being ignored. As of now, the radical activists are pulling attention-grabbing stunts like decorating a portrait of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero with lipstick and purple hair.

They’re also making headlines for vandalizing the federal building’s walls and splashing paint on the doors of the presidential palace.

One thing is for sure: something has to change. Otherwise, thousands of innocent women and girls will continue to be raped, abused, and murdered while their perpetrators escape with immunity. 

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story


Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

Chip Somodevilla / Gettycc

After weeks of speculation and anticipation, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has officially picked his running mate.

In a history-making announcement, Biden revealed that he had tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his VP Pick.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden announced in a tweet.

On Wednesday, Biden held his first campaign event alongside running mate Kamala Harris in Delaware.

During their speeches, the two candidates wore masks and kept their distance in keeping with COVID-19 standards.

Speaking about his VP pick, Biden described Harris as coming from an “America’s story.” Biden described Harris as “a child of immigrants” who “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America,” he explained. “And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents.”

In a speech of her own, Harris emphasized the importance of family and urged citizens to vote.  “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be,” she said. “Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great. But ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most.”

Harris’s nomination makes her the first Black and first Indian-American woman on either major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris is a former prosecutor from California who challenged Biden in her own presidential bid last year. Her nomination makes her the fourth woman to appear on a major presidential ballot. Before her, Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984. In 2008, Republican Sarah Palin ran as a vice presidential nominee, later in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden’s choice was one that has long been in the works. In March of this year, he revealed that he would make a point to have a woman as his running mate and in July he announced that he had narrowed his picks down to four Black women.

Kamala Harris was elected to Congress in 2016.

This has been Harris’ first term as a senator. Before, she served as the California attorney general. During her time as AG, Harris formed a lasting friendship with Biden’s late son Beau who was attorney general at the time in Delaware. Writing about Beau’s death, in her memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris recalled that “there were periods when I was taking the heat when Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” she wrote in her memoir. “We had each other’s backs.”

Biden’s son Beau died in 2015 from brain cancer. Harris attended his funeral.

During his announcement, Biden mentioned Harris’ friendship with his son.

“I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” Biden tweeted. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

So far, it seems there are quite a bit of Harris x Biden supporters.

Fans were quick to give their support and applaud her candidacy.

In a tweet acknowledging her nomination, Harris wrote “@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

Here’s to 2020 y’all. Get ready to make history.

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