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Appropriation vs. Appreciation: The Damage it’s Caused to the Latinx Community

Appropriation vs. Appreciation: The Damage it’s Caused to the Latinx Community

Latinx culture has been in the spotlight recently; however, there’s been viral TikTok trends labeled “Spa Water” or the “Little Mexican Girl Core” that are an appropriation of Hispanic culture for the sake of a ‘trend’ or viral video. 

People have been going viral for the wrong reasons, namely cultural appropriation. TikTok is the birthplace of various trends, but cultural appropriation takes hold when these videos target and stereotype people, most recently the Latinx population. 

Natalia Medina Lozada ‘23, President of the Association of Latinx American Students at Loyola University Maryland, is one of many who are offended that these TikToks have gained traction. Medina Lozada explains how she always felt isolated for being Latina and is angry at the blatant disregard and romanticization of her culture for the sake of views. 

“Growing up feeling like I was ugly and weird for my culture made me feel bad for being Hispanic. Now, we’re just an aesthetic to white girls,” said Medina Lozada.

The controversy began in July when popular health influencer, Gracie Norton, went viral for describing a traditional Mexican drink, Aguas Frescas, as ‘spa water’ in various TikToks. She continued to make a series on this ‘anti-inflammatory spa water’ drink without recognizing the origin of the drink whatsoever. 

Another user, @yourbabyjules, wore her hair in braided pigtails while wearing a white linen dress and a rosary labeling the outfit ‘little Mexican girl core.’ Her videos offended many Mexican women; in the past, they’d been teased for this style that is now labeled as an ‘aesthetic.’ Medina Lozada said this feels like praise for the attractive parts of Hispanic culture while throwing away the struggle this minority group has faced in the past.

“Our traditional drinks, our style, and our culture is being rebranded to fit whatever everyone else wants, and we don’t even get the recognition we’ve been fighting for. But of course, take the parts you want and ignore our struggles,” said Medina Lozada. 

These sentiments are shared across the Latinx community and have only festered during Latinx Heritage Month as non-Latinx people aren’t sure whether they can celebrate or not. 

Michelle Dominguez-Cabrera ‘25, one of the co-event coordinators of ALAS, believes it’s necessary for people to learn from the mistakes of others by taking the necessary steps to educate themselves on Latinx culture. 

“After the viral videos went around, I think people assumed Latinx people didn’t want their support, but we do! It’s just a matter of not trying to make our culture their own, but learning how to best partake in it,” said Dominguez-Cabrera. 

Throughout this past month, the ALAS organization has been reaching out to the Loyola community to educate them on the best ways to appreciate vs. appropriate Latinx culture. 

“Sazón Latino” is the theme ALAS chose to emphasize the importance of Latinx identity and pride. In addition, they used this theme to spread the Latinx culture, or the more literal translation ‘seasoning’, with the Loyola community. With their student panel, alum panel, and the biggest event of the year for ALAS, LatinFest, coming up, the club is beyond excited to bring Latinx culture and perspectives to Loyola for those who want to listen.

Tiktok trends can be fun…until they offend a community. Click here to learn more about ALAS’ efforts to educate on recent appropriation issues the Latinx community faces.


Featured Image courtesy of Alondra Vargas-Posada.

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Appropriation vs. Appreciation: The Damage it’s Caused to the Latinx Community