An online clothing retailer based in Utah has sparked outrage for marketing their clothing with the hashtag #WhiteGirlsWearMexican.
The company Mexitrend apparel, started by two American sisters, specializes in buying dresses, blankets, and other merchandise from Mexico and selling the items to American buyers.
However the company’s marketing has stirred controversy for the store’s cultural appropriation, use of exclusively white models, and name that diminishes Mexican culture to a mere fashion trend.
Criticizers are calling Mexitrend tone deaf for ads that glorify the cultural clothing on white bodies and degrade Mexicans to ‘these people’ that live in ‘humble shacks’, according to Chron.
Online Utah apparel store Mexitrend has come under fire after launching their hashtag #WhiteGirlsWearMexican while selling traditional Mexican clothing
The clothing is marketed with a variety of hashtags including the offensive #WhiteGirlsWearMexican, pictured above in a post from March
The store sells a variety of blankets and dresses purchased in Mexico to a market of white women, the controversial hashtag pictured in the caption, right
The company was started by Kimberly Claybaugh Jonas, right, and her sister, left. The duo shared this post on the Mexitrend Instagram to share how the company started
Outraged Mexitrend critics say that the Utah-based and American run company headed by Kimberly Claybaugh Jonas and her sister is profiting off Mexican products, style, and culture – a heritage that is not their own.
Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture adopts traits of a minority culture, without sensitivity or respect to the culture that is being co-opted.
Controversies such as Rachel Dolezal claiming to be black, Katy Perry wearing cornrows in a music video, Victoria Secret models strutting the runway in Native American headdresses, and Halloween racial stereotype costumes are all examples of cultural appropriation.
Jonas, however, does not believe her company has committed anything culturally offensive.
‘We’re selling to white people,’ Jonas’ husband John said on her behalf to Chron.
‘Fewer people would buy if the dress is on a Mexican model, it’s a lifestyle thing — you see people that are similar to you, that’s how everybody works,’ he said.
He added: ‘People buy from people similar to themselves. We’re not racists. I have a guy from Mexico who eats with me every day’.
Jonas himself runs a company that helps businesses outsource work to the Philippines with the slogan ‘Life is better with Filipinos working for you’.
He added that Mexitrend is two months old and that he and his wife had never heard of the phrase ‘cultural appropriation’ prior to launching the business.
‘They just look for anything that’s not to their liking and they attack. They just like to bully people. Most of what has been directed at us is mean bullying. It’s from fake Instagram accounts that aren’t from real people,’ he said.
Many users, however, do not share the Jonas’ opinion.
Jonas, pictured right, poses wearing a sombrero and guitar and is criticized for stereotyping and appropriating Mexican culture
The sisters, pictured above, have been criticized of cultural appropriation and of directing their marketing campaign towards a solely white audience. They have been accused of having ‘white savior complex’
Social media users describe the Mormon family’s approach to dealing with other cultures as ‘white savior complex’.
Several shoppers have called for a boycott of the company after seeing its hashtag #WhiteGirlsWearMexican that reveals a target market of white buyers for the culturally Latin clothing, according to Express News.
Esmeralda De Los Santos, a marketing professor at the University of Incarnate Word, dubbed the company’s white girl hashtag as ‘patronizing and condescending’.
‘It suggests a superiority of one group of people over another, which is why it’s distasteful,’ she said to Chron.
In one post on the Mexitrend Instagram the sisters explain how they started the company.
‘We fell in love with the rows and rows of beautiful goods that were marketed and sold to tourists of all backgrounds. Vendors begged us to buy from them. Our hearts yearned for a way to help them. We talked to some of them about their lives, families, shops, and products. We asked if they’d be willing to partner with us, selling their products in the U.S. THEY WERE THRILLED!’ the post said.
‘Unfortunately, as we were set to begin this part of our efforts, we were viciously attacked and insulted with profanities towards us, our families and others who are supporting us. We were surprised and disappointed when we were attacked and accused of “stealing” from the poor and of “cultural appropriation.” Our reaction has been to block the foul language and the insults,’ it added.
‘We’re not racist’: Jonas’ husband John, left, maintained that the couple is not racist and admitted that the pair never heard the phrase ‘cultural appropriation’ prior to starting Mexitrend
Speaking on why the company only uses white models and white people hashtags John said: ‘Fewer people would buy if the dress is on a Mexican model, it’s a lifestyle thing’
One outraged user wrote on Instagram: ‘These outfits and designs do not belong to you guys. Please stop profiting off Mexican culture’
Their posts have been bombarded with a string of reproachful comments.
‘These outfits and designs do not belong to you guys. Please stop profiting off Mexican culture,’ one outraged Instagram user commented on the company’s page.
‘So they go to Mexico. Steal Mexican culture then over price it and sell it???’ another wrote.
‘This is not a trend first of all then they did the clapback with not only Mexicans wear these dresses…they don’t even have one of our people in the advertisement….’ a third wrote.
‘If every race likes them then there should be African Americans and Latin women/men modeling the clothes don’t you think? Also Mexican people started this as part of OUR culture and you are trying to make it “trendy/hip” when this is what we are working against in order for us to keep our roots. Profiting off our values, norms, and culture should be something to think about,’ another Instagram user said.
‘When you hate and make fun of Mexicans but steal their culture,’ one user wrote.
‘”WhitegirlswearMexican”?!!! Seriously?!!! My culture is not a trend and this is beyond offensive!!’ another added.
In light of the backlash the company has deleted several of their posts or edited captions however some still bear the controversial hashtag.
The clothing prices span $30 for blankets and and $45 for dresses.
The sisters say that their business supports communities in Mexico and the vendor families, however the specifics of that business model is not clear.