Here’s Why People Are Fired Up Over Kendall Jenner’s New Tequila Ads
There she goes again.
Unfortunately....it looks like Kendall Jenner is going through with this whole tequila brand thing. After announcing earlier this year that she would be debuting her own brand of tequila, dubbed 818, Jenner faced immediate backlash for potential cultural appropriation and agave farmer exploitation. However, she charged forth and just released her first crop of ads, and unsurprisingly, people aren't happy, and for good reason.
Firstly, as many of her critics predicted, Jenner appears in the ads wearing a questionable outfit that some are calling a culturally appropriated costume. She wears her hair in two braids, a common hairstyle within Mexican indigenous communities, a button-down shirt in a muted stripe similar to that of a traditional sarape blanket, as well as Mexican artisan jewelry.
She's playing into Mexican stereotypes, plain and simple, with one person on Twitter calling her look "chic migrant worker."
In a Twitter thread titled, "WHY YOU SHOULDN'T BUY KENDALL JENNERS 818 TEQUILA? thread for my [non-mexican] mutuals explaining," Twitter user @talkfastloueh explained that Jenner's video advertisements and stills from the campaign are riddled with "misconception[s] of the Mexican culture."
"No miss Kendall, we do not ride in horses all the time, no we do not wear our hair in braids all the time, no workers do not get to drink the tequila (also that's not the way you drink it)," they explained, adding in another tweet, "workers do not work with that kind of clothes and finally, your advertisement is so whitewashed/California vibes."
When Jenner first announced her 818 Tequila brand, she was criticized for making herself the face of the brand—a brand that was being built on the backs of Mexican agave farmers. According to TMZ, Jenner wanted to focus this most recent ad campaign on said farmers, thus including them in the video clips posted to the 818 Instagram on May 17th.
But, the entire venture is feeling a bit too "modern day colonizer" for many, as one Twitter user described it.
Adding to this vibe is the fact that 818 Tequila is only currently being sold in the U.S. despite Mexico being the only place in the world that tequila can be produced. Those who help make the product and the community that supports these workers can't even reap the benefits of their labor.
Other celebrities including Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and George Clooney have also stepped into the tequila space, however, none of them have experienced the same amount of backlash and critique as Jenner has. This could absolutely be explained by gender bias, but it should be noted that Johnson, Hart, and Clooney have not made themselves the face of the brand in the same way Jenner has (nor exploited the culture, as some have argued).
Jenner has turned off comments on her personal Instagram post revealing the ad campaign and has yet to respond to the blowback concerning her appearance in the ads. As of right now, Jenner and her tequila brand are leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many, and, uh, are we the only ones getting flashbacks to the tone-deaf Pepsi commercial, or...?