I'm thinking about buying my bridal party luchador masks. But here's the deal: I am not Mexican. I am a fan of the wrestling style, but not a huge one. I just think they're delightful. Does this seem like co-opting another culture? I mean, it isn't like Dia De Los Muertos, where it's steeped in religion, but… what do you think?
Great question, and I really appreciate that you're taking the time to consider it! So first, for those not familiar with the concept of cultural appropriation, it's when which members of a relatively privileged group (for example, middle class white Americans) “raid” a less powerful or marginalized culture and pluck cultural acts or objects out of context.
Appreciating other cultures isn't always cultural appropriation of course, but it's something that's definitely worth being thoughtful about. You'll find a lot of relevant thoughts on cultural appropriation and weddings over here.
But let's get to your specific question: is it hurtful for you as a non-Mexican, to give your bridal party Mexican wrestling masks?
I do not profess to have an answer to this question, but here's my general suggestion for anyone wondering “…is _____ hurtful?”: Google your concern. Try searching for Mexican wrestling cultural appropriation and see what comes up. Read a few opinions and see if you agree with them.
- Is anyone offended?
- Who is offended?
- Do their concerns resonate with you?
- If someone voiced those concerns about actions you took, would you feel remorse?
A quick glance at Google tells me that while many people have concerns about non-Mexicans taking Dia De Los Muertos out of context (understandably, since as you say it's a Mexican religious holiday that's being used as an aesthetic style by non-Mexicans), less people are concerned about non-Mexicans being into lucha libre wrestling. Perhaps the difference is that it's borrowing a cultural practice for its somewhat intended use (entertainment), as opposed to taking a religious custom and using it as a costume or decor.
I want to be very clear here: asking questions about borrowing cultural traditions isn't about shaming anyone or saying that borrowing is always wrong. As with many social justice issues, there are no completely right answers. Nothing is completely “off-limits” culturally, and perhaps given the right respectful context, borrowing from other cultures can feel just fine.
The issues are complex, and the goal is just to do your research compassionately
Of course if you go sniffing around the internet to see if someone's upset about something, you'll often find a few who are… the key is to gather information objectively, and then see how it sits with you.
Give it some time to sink it.
Then make your decision, knowing that you did it with intent. Really, it's not that different than many wedding decisions: there's no right answer, but you need to be thoughtful about your choices, and accountable for your decisions.
Basically, you need to do the research to really understand what you're borrowing, and then also understand that even with this research, you're not entitled to be immune from criticism. But at least by doing the research, if someone later confronts you with concerns about your choice, you'll be ready to have the conversation.