This Mexican Village’s Embroidery Designs Are Admired (and Appropriated) Globally-News

This Mexican Village’s Embroidery Designs Are Admired (and Appropriated) Globally

Where it would be easy to assume that the American perspective of Latin America would glorify the American perspective. Rather, the New York Times paints Latin America, specifically Mexico, as the good guy and America as the villian. In an article written Nov. 13, 2019, “This Mexican Village’s Embroidery Designs are Admired (and Appropriated) Globally,”  the New York Times exposes an often ignored aspect of art: appropriation. In a small town in Mexico, San Nicolàs, embroidery runs through the veins of its artists.

An indegenous tribe called the Otomí have a distinct art style, depicting their vegetation and wildlife, unique to their location. The art was originally used for survival and has been adapted into an industry they call the tenangos. Since the expansion of their art, it has been distributed in a worldwide market. One look at their work, makes their unique nature clear. The art is vivid with distinctive colors and imagery as you can see in the photo below.In the past few months, “major international brands have advertised products decorated with the Otomís’ distinctive iconography, without mentioning Tenango de Doria or the Otomí as their source.” Many of us are familiar with the term cultural appropriation. It shows up in our social media feeds but it is rarely addressed in the art community, in particular with indegenous peoples. In this article, the author went a step further than appropriation, calling it plagiarism. This word choice exposes the severity of this infringement. These embroideries are a part of the tenango livelihood. It is not merely a pastime, but it is essential to their survival. This unqiue art form is dying as companies like Nestlé profit from the designs they are stealing from these uncompensated artists. 

In comparison to how I typically see Latin America portrayed in the news, this article was a pleasant surprise. It gave credence to the tenago artisans and respected their craft. It did so without painting these artists as victims as the artists pursued legal actions. I appreciated the way the author exposed the companies that plagiarized including the well-known Nestlé. 

The author did a beautiful job of displaying the various artworks of these genuine artists. However, I would have appreciated if the author had included some of the appropriated images as a point of comparison, particularly for Nestlé (partially out of curiosity). 

In relation to the course, I found this article fascinating in how indegenous peoples are continuing to be abused. In the same way we have seen so many revolutions spurred by indegenous rights, we continue to see the necessity for reform on these grounds. Systematically, it is clear that the artists did not find any solace in that they did not win their lawsuits against the plagiarists, only losing money in attempting to get the credit they deserve.

This is the most horrendous form of cultural appropriation in that it allows artists to be starved (figuratively and literally) of the credit for their hard work. They pour a piece of themselves into their art, only for big corporations to take credit and turn a profit, and for the artist to receive little to no credit and no compensation. This goes to show that cultural appropriation is not simply a fashion statement but it damages lives, perpetuating the cycle of poverty whilst large companies rake in money they don’t need.


Marianismo: Wikipedia Article


  1. Is everything in the article relevant to the article topic? Is there anything that distracted you?

The primary focus of the article seemed to relate to the Catholic-centric nature of Marianismo, but its opening sentence did not address its effect on Latin American countries nor where it was located. The contents of the article was relevant, but it strayed from the important aspects.

  1. Is the article neutral? Are there any claims, or frames, that appear heavily biased toward a particular position?

The article is clearly written by a white person as the Latin origins are largely ignored and treated as an afterthought rather than the center of the concept of “Marianismo” nor does it cover how or when the this impacted history. This article does not address the cisgender nature of the “great woman” and “great man” dichotomy. This lack of acknowledgement leaves a gap for the queer community.

The article uses generalizations such as “In Latin countries, it is frowned on women to appear in public without a man.” Such a statement groups all of Latin American countries together despite stark differences.

Despite addressing the queer community of MSM (men who have sex with men), the article does not include women who have sex with women in this context. It only addresses the women as a product of men’s actions, rather than those who have their own lives outside of men.

  1. Are there viewpoints that are over-represented, or under-represented?

As stated in the previous question, the viewpoint of the man supersedes all other perspectives as the women are rarely mentioned without the direct support of a man. A brief three- sentence portion addresses the feminist perspective but does not touch nearly enough on the scope of Marianismo.

  1. Check a few citations. Do the links work? Does the source support the claims in the article?

The links work, however, the very first source I clicked on yielded little evidence used in the article. The article was more of a criticism of how the machismo/marianismo archetypes confine gender roles. The article briefly address this dichotomy but largely ignores it.

The claims of the article are largely biased and ignore women. Those who composed the article did not seem to have women in mind; in fact, they blatantly ignored them. Most of the sources did not portray the women as victims but addressed them in a neutral manner.  The wikipedians did not do the same and showed women only as men’s subordinates.

  1.  Is each fact referenced with an appropriate, reliable reference? Where does the information come from? Are these neutral sources? If biased, is that bias noted?

The references are reliable, however the editors did not interpret the information correctly. It primarily comes from scholars but some organizations have also been referenced. These articles are often written from the lens of a gender justice and Latinix standpoint in addressing the psychology/protection of endangered women. The bias is not noted but can be seen in the writing.

  1. Is any information out of date? Is anything missing that could be added?

The feminist history should be expanded upon to include more than a couple sentences, particularly because this is an aspect that is still directly impacting Latinix people in the present day.

In addition to the feminist aspect, Marianismo should be analyzed through a queer lens as the spread of HIV contaminated many Latina women.

It should be analyzed based on how it impacts different Latin American countries as there are various cultural implications depending where the concept of Marianismo is being studied.

  1.  Check out the Talk page of the article. What kinds of conversations, if any, are going on behind the scenes about how to represent this topic?

Two students expressed interest in expanding on the page for a class but it seems there was not the expansion they intended. Both students are no longer working on the project.

  1. How is the article rated? Is it a part of any WikiProjects?

It is apart of Catholicism, Gender studies, Mexico, and Women’s history. It is rated to be of low-importance.

  1. How does the way Wikipedia discusses this topic differ from the way we’ve talked about it in class?

Wikipedia does not acknowledge its shortcomings or potential ways in which media has skewed the bias. We have not addressed the gender issues at length in class but looking at the syllabus I know we will!