Model Kendall Jenner has been accused of cultural appropriation after launching a tequila brand she claims to have been working on for nearly four years.
In an Instagram post, Jenner announced the launch of her tequila brand, 818 tequila, which is presumably named after the Calabasas, California, area code. Jenner said her tequila brand had already won eight awards, including best reposado at the World Tequila Awards.
“After dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING … ⅗ years later I think we’ve done it,” Jenner wrote. “This is all we’ve been drinking for the last year and I can’t wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do!”
Following her announcement, social media condemned Jenner for allegedly culturally appropriating Mexican culture. One user accused Jenner of profiting off of Mexican traditions.
“Something about Kendall Jenner making tequila rubs me the wrong way…like the idea of white celebrities taking from local Mexican artisans and profiting off our traditions and agricultural business yet only visit Cabos and Puerto Vallarta for vacation spots,” the user wrote. “And not to mention profit off the brown hands that actually plant, grow, harvest, ferment, and distill the agave plants in Jalisco.”
Something about Kendall Jenner making tequila rubs me the wrong way..like the idea of white celebrities taking from local Mexican artisans and profiting off our traditions and agricultural business yet only visit Cabos and Puerto Vallarta for vacation spots…
— Estefanía (@estyledesma) February 17, 2021
Another Twitter user dubbed Jenner’s tequila brand “gentrification.”
“Kendall Jenner starting a tequila brand with zero knowledge of Mexican culture and calling it ‘818 tequila’ is GENTRIFICATION,” the tweet reads. “What about those smaller, family owned Mexican tequila/mezcal brands? They deserve the hype [and] support.”
Kendall Jenner starting a tequila brand, with zero knowledge on Mexican culture and calling it “818 tequila” is GENTRIFICATION. The 818 does not claim Calabasas. What about those smaller, family owned Mexican tequila/mezcal brands? They deserve the hype & support.
— Jennie Molina (@jenjocelyn) February 17, 2021
The same user accused Jenner and all white, wealthy individuals in the greater Calabasas area of ignoring the city’s poverty level. “It could have been any other white woman from a wealthy area profiting off of Latinx culture. My point is they claim the 818 when it benefits them, but do they claim what’s real? Do they even know that the 818 has some of the poorest cities in LA?”
Social media has lobbed accusations of cultural appropriation against the Kardashian-Jenner family in the past. After Kim Kardashian announced the creation of her shapewear line, initially called “Kimono,” she was immediately met with backlash and accusations of appropriating Japanese culture. Kardashian changed the name to “Skims.”
The Kardashian-Jenner family has also been accused multiple times of appropriating black culture by wearing their hair in cornrows. In 2015, Kylie Jenner drew blowback for a photoshoot in which she darkened her skin to emphasize the glitter on her face. Critics accused her of wearing blackface.
Khloe Kardashian came under fire for wearing a Niqab during a trip to Dubai. Commentators suggested that Khloe saw the niqab as a costume rather than part of a culture. At the music festival Coachella, Khloe Kardashian was ridiculed for wearing a traditional Native-American headdress as well.
Kendall Jenner has yet to make a statement about the accusations.