Cultural Appreciation vs Appropriate– What’s the Difference?

Today, cultural appropriation may take many different forms. We witness it at music festivals where attendees occasionally don traditional clothing from various cultures. It is seen in clothing. In the realm of celebrities, too, we see it a lot. Although the issue between appropriation and appreciation is complex, it doesn’t have to be too difficult to explain to tequila suppliers, brand owners, and fans who want to respect the beverage for its deep Mexican roots.

In this guide, we’ll break down the differences between cultural appreciation and appropriation, the importance of Mexican culture on tequila and what the product represents for our culture, and why tequila brand owners need to talk about tequila’s Mexican origins and the importance of heritage.

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What is Cultural Appropriation?

Cultural appropriation is the term used to describe the usage of items or aspects from a non-dominant culture in a way that supports oppression or perpetuates stereotypes while also disregarding its original significance or giving credit to their creator. In this manner, cultural appropriation is a complex and subtle phenomena that many people could find difficult to comprehend and might not even be aware of when they are engaging in it.

Let’s consider an example. The Japanese garments known as kimonos have a specific ritual to wear and use. Using it only as a casual around-the-house robe would be appropriation due to a lack of respect to the culture and its context.

Here’s another example. Back in 2015, a French brand called Isabel Marant marketed a traditional costume of the Mixe community in Oaxaca, Mexico. The brand copied the costume used in special festivities in Oaxaca, then attempted to sell the product at high prices for looking “exotic and cool” without giving any context or explanation about the origins of the garment. This is a particular nefarious form of cultural appropriation known as exoticism.

When you sincerely try to understand or investigate another culture, you are demonstrating cultural respect. You develop. You give ear. You try to comprehend. You aim to respect its traditions and values. Not for fame, money, or an Instagram post for your own personal advantage. However, to merely respect the culture and its people. Being able to appreciate many cultures in this way is a wonderful aspect of modern life. The issue is that there is a thin line between respecting and exploiting a culture.

What is Cultural Appreciation?

As individuals from various origins come together and communicate, it might be natural for cultures to meld and blend. In reality, the blending of such civilizations has resulted in many remarkable innovations and achievements (such as country music). Appreciating different cultures like this is a fantastic part of being alive today. As long as the creators know its origin, and educate the consumer, it is NOT cultural appropriation.

Appreciation is to learn more about a culture, so you can better understand it. When the creator/artist/promoter/brand is serious about learning and exploring a different culture. They learn, listen and strive to understand the honor and traditions behind it; what makes it special to their people.

If one seeks to give honor to the culture, not for fame or money. Communicating the context of the culture, the reason for its history and its people. That is cultural appreciation at its finest.

There are very good examples out there of how a culture can be an inspiration for a creative process. For example, consider the 2019 Dior Cruise collection. The designers of this collection gave tribute to the Mexican charreria and escaramuzas by interpreting elements of the Mexican uniform and costume and taking representatives of the charreria committee to Paris with their horses. People who were part of the culture were part of the creative process– a big factor when it comes to the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation.

To put it simply, appreciation is the desire to comprehend and learn about another culture in an effort to extend one’s viewpoint and establish cross-cultural relationships. On the other side, appropriation is the act of stealing a part of another culture and exploiting it for your own benefit.

Conclusion - What Can the Tequila Industry and Tequila Suppliers Do to Show Respect to Authentic Mexican Tequila and People?

When it comes down to it, cultural appropriation is inevitable. Cultural borrowing inevitably leads to cross-fertilization that takes place out of admiration for the culture that is being imitated without trying to cause harm, a process known as transcultural diffusion.

As long as non-Mexican tequila labels know the drink’s origin and educate the consumer of tequila’s cultural significance, cultural appropriation can be avoided.

This is why we at Aceves Spirits empower our client brands and share our knowledge with them, so they can carry our proud Mexican heritage with honor.

That’s also why we choose the projects we work with, so we can establish a great business relationship alligned with our vision and business ideas.

When we, as maestros tequileros, feel proud of our clients’ products; we like to sign each bottle with our name. We want the consumer to know, that the bottle they’re drinking, has been designed and produced by an authentic/experienced Mexican Maestro Tequilero.

What do you think about this? Have you seen any cultural misappropriations? Let us know in the comments below.


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