North Texas Daily

Catholic inspired trends flourish at the expense of Mexican culture

Catholic inspired trends flourish at the expense of Mexican culture

Catholic inspired trends flourish at the expense of Mexican culture
September 02
14:00 2023

Catholic imagery and “Old World” aesthetics have gained popularity not just in art, but have influenced fashion seen online by all – users, influencers, celebrities and high-fashion brands.  The “Old World” aesthetic has evolved into a style called “Catholic Mexican Girl” -core. This style comes in the form of white linen dresses, gold jewelry, braids adorned with ribbon, rosaries and crucifixes. 

Videos began to emerge on TikTok introducing the style, with the search labeled “Catholic Mexican Girl Core” garnering over 6.6 billion views

Although the TikTok videos explicitly thank Latinas for this type of style, with many videos featuring notable Mexican celebrities like Salma Hayek, there are issues behind this American view of Latinidad. It plays into traditionalist tropes people online fetishize in the name of style. 

The Spanish colonialism interpretation of Mexican and Latino culture is what is being adopted. It idealizes the quintessential versions of the culture seen through an American’s eyes. 

A brand currently aiding in the spread of this style is Mirror Palais New York, created by Brazilian designer Marcelo Gaia. People consider him responsible for adding to “Catholic Mexican girl” style with his famous “Maria in Leite” dress, which stands to represent the Virgin Mary. This currently out-of-stock dress has inspired many copycats on websites like Shein.

More recently, his Spring/Summer 2023 fashion show took place in a Catholic Church while many of the models were dressed in half-naked designs. People were either in awe of the style or enraged at the disrespect of the show being inside a real church. 

Catholic-inspired style is not new to the high-fashion industry. In 2018, the “Heavenly Bodies”-themed Met Gala featured heavy Catholic influences and became one of the more notable themes. Now, big brands have more outwardly used Mexican culture in their designs along with Catholicism. 

In May, Dior released its 2024 Cruise collection, with the runway being the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City. The models wore black and white dresses embroidered with red thread and their hair in two braids, very reminiscent of the Indigenous hairstyles of Latin America. Their huipil style dresses are also similar to Indigenous clothing frequently worn.

The collection was said to have been made in inspiration of Frida Kahlo and in collaboration with artists from the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Puebla. 

These elements aid in the spread of the “Catholic Mexican Girl” style with the outfits, the hair and the location all coming together to set the scene and push a specific image. Once a famous brand like Dior visualizes a show like this, the inspiration is immediately taken and put on someone’s Pinterest board. 

The problem is not necessarily on the Catholic aspect. If anything, with the history of Catholicism and colonialism, people do not care to wear motifs like rosaries or crosses exactly because of their religious meaning. If it was an ethnoreligion it would be different.

Punk and goth groups have worn these symbols since the ‘70s. Soon after, Catholic iconography was made mainstream and popular by artists like Madonna in her “Like a Virgin” music video, which featured rosaries and other Catholic imagery.

Of course, it still sparks outrage among those who believe it is blasphemous if you are not a devout Catholic. But the uneasiness comes when Catholic imagery starts representing a culture and makes it an aesthetic to follow without ever learning its real history. 

Viewing Mexican culture through the lens of Spanish colonialism is an erasure of the painful history of Black and Indigenous people. It is the Latino whiteness showcasing itself in the form of a popular white dress.

Every few years, there are waves in American pop culture that are inspired by Latina aesthetics. These styles are always being found, rediscovered or renamed. “Chola” style is now “Clean girl aesthetic” and the brown lip liner with lip gloss combo every Black and Latina girl wears is “brownie glazed lips” thanks to Hailey Bieber, not to mention Mexican food rebranding like aguas frescas into “Spa Water” and corn salsa into “Cowboy Caviar.” Rebranding only serves to make Mexican culture digestible for white people and Americans. While Mexican culture is beautiful, it has been watered down heavily.

Instead of embracing Spanish aesthetics, which were derived from the indigenous cultures they colonized, individuals should educate themselves on the history and significance of the issue. People are more inclined to follow whatever aesthetics are trending online rather than becoming more authentic and original. Social media must stop rebranding culture into whatever they want to see. Larger fashion companies need to understand the influence they have when releasing these clothing lines. If anything, draw inspiration from the look without directly borrowing it or copying it.

Illustration by: Isabella Isquierdo

About Author

Melanie Hernandez

Melanie Hernandez

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad