Kendall & Kylie Are Back On The Cultural Appropriation Debate

This story was originally published on August 28, 2017.
It begs to be seen if the Kardashian/Jenner family will ever get tired of getting dragged on the Internet for being culturally insensitive. Earlier this month, their sister (and Interview cover star) Kim Kardashian received backlash for defending makeup artist Jeffree Star against (well-documented) claims that he's racist, telling her fans to “get over it.” Similarly, Kendall and Kylie were called out for putting their faces over the likes of Tupac and Biggie Smalls for their line of “vintage” band tees. Now, they're being accused of appropriating chola culture.
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On Saturday, @lipstickittty called the siblings out on Twitter, sharing a screenshot from their namesake clothing line's Instagram account, alerting followers to new arrivals on the website. The model in the photo was wearing a plaid shirt with only the top two buttons fastened, a black lace bralette underneath, black slacks, and huge hoop earrings. @lipstickittty captioned it: “@KendallJenner @KylieJenner will you ever come up with your own ideas? #culturevultures
“I first saw the image on the explore page and I immediately noticed something was wrong when I saw that it was posted on the @kendalandkylie page,” Ashley Sherengo, the woman behind the tweets, tells Refinery29. “What bothers me is that they don't ever come up with their own original ideas. They are always taking ideas from others and never give credit. Aside from being unoriginal, it's definitely irritating to see these girls making money off a culture they know absolutely nothing about. When we — Latinas and Xicanas — dress in flannels and big pants, we get profiled and frowned upon. But when they do it, it's ‘fashion.’”
The post clearly struck a nerve, as it's been retweeted over 2,000 times. Even makeup artist Kat Von D chimed in on the conversation, simply writing: “Damn posers.”
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One user, @esa_maldita responded to @lipstickittty's tweet with an article that explained what exactly made their Instagram so problematic. In an piece for Vice, author Barbara Calderón-Douglass laid out the history of chola culture and what it signifies. “The chola aesthetic is the result of impoverished women making a lot out of the little things their families could afford,” Calderón-Douglass wrote. “Many of the early cholos and cholas were the sons and daughters of farmworkers, a group of people exploited at high rates because of their lack of education and their vulnerability as undocumented people.” Cholas often wore wife-beaters over baggy pants and underneath plaid shirts, not unlike the ones for sale on Kendall and Kylie’s website for $145.
“They can educate themselves by interacting with us (Latinas/Xicanas) but even then, it still wouldn't make it ok for them to be selling clothes that look identical to what cholas in the 80's and 90's would wear,” Sherengo continued.
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The post has since been deleted from Instagram, but the shirt is still available online. “I don't know their thought process but I really hope they will learn from this experience and take time to reevaluate their strategy when it comes to putting together designs,” Sherengo said.
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produced by Brianna Donnelly; edited by Sam Russell.
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