The fine line between appropriation and appreciation.
After taking a few years pause from my YouTube channel and looking at all the makeup I have done through out the years, since 2009. I though that it was the right time to delete some content and write an explanation why I choose to do this, why I am removing my sugar skull makeup tutorials.
WHAT IS DIA DE LOS MUERTOS & HOW SUGAR SKULLS ARE RELATED TO IT!
Sugar Skull Makeup is from a two-day Mexican holiday called: Día de los Muertos, aka Day of the Dead. During that holiday Mexicans honors their families’ deceased ancestors through various traditions related to this holiday. This holiday has nothing to do with Halloween.
HALLOWEEN VS DIA DE LOS MUERTOS
The sugar skull makeup is worn on Día de los Muertos and it symbolizes this holiday and celebrates all those who have passed. The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican colorful holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31-November 2.
While Halloween is a holiday whose roots go all the way back to a European pagan festival named Samhain. The word “Halloween” comes from All Hallows’ Eve and means “hallowed evening.” Hundreds of years ago, people dressed up and went door-to-door to trick-or-treat. The modern version of Halloween in the USA is a holiday where people have fun and dress up scary.
These are very short examples of critical differences between these two holidays.
WHAT IS A SUGAR SKULL?
The history behind the sugar skull makeup is very interesting. It comes from the painting La Catrina, a well know piece of art, most people who love this holiday and sugar skulls will know about La Calavera Catrina or Catrina La Calavera Garbancera by José Guadalupe Posada. La Catrina is a female skeleton that is wearing a beautiful feathered hat. José Guadalupe Posada’s message behind this art was that “no matter your race, class, or background, we’re all going to die someday”. La Catrina has with time become one of the main symbols of Día de los Muertos.
Sugar skulls started gaining popularity in 2007 and has “trending” since then on various social media sites and have been recreated in various ways by various artists and people who aren’t Mexican. If you search #sugarskullmakeup on any social media site or even on Google, you will find thousands of looks from traditional to non-traditional makeup tutorials and looks. One starts to ask themself, does recreating your own version of sugar skulls as a non-Mexican descent, watering down the importance and significance of this tradition and holiday?
WHY I STOPPED MAKING SUGAR SKULL MAKEUP TUTORIALS & REMOVED THE ONES I HAVE MADE
I was always a big fan of Día de los Muertos, as a person who grew up in a multi-culture community, I did learn tiny bits of my neighbors culture and traditions but never partook in them. Since I was a child, I personally loved Dia De Los Muertos and what it represented.
Years later, I started to play a video game called Grim Fandango that sparked my interested in the history behind Sugar Skulls, skulls and their relation to Día de los Muertos holiday. The more I learned about this holiday, the more I fell in love with it and wanted to learn more.
I thought Día de los Muertos was a very creative, artistic, colorful and beautiful tradition on how to honor our loved ones who have passed to the other realm, and it had some tiny similarities to my own culture photos 1, Photos 2, Video 1, Video 2 and how we celebrated all saints day.
Now let’s fast forward to my Halloween tutorials.
When I started making my sugar skull makeup tutorials, I saw it as a homage to this holiday and this tradition. I made them blood free and in my opinion tasteful to show respect for this holiday, culture and tradition. I am aware that if you ask someone if Sugar Skull makeup for Halloween is culture appropriation or appreciation, you will get different answers depending on who you ask.
After doing my own research, I’ve read an article that wrote that recreating skull makeup doesn’t need to be strictly for Mexican people, but that there is a fine line between appropriation and appreciation.
“One of the most offensive things is when people paint a Catrina and make the look intersect with something scary and bloody. La Catrina represents your dead relative, not a scary Halloween character. As long as people take the time to understand its rituals and meaning, I think it’s great for anyone to participate.” says Merson.
Through my sugar skull makeup tutorials, I was trying to build awareness of the tradition behind Sugar Skull makeup and its holiday Dia de los Muertos. I was trying to honor this beautiful holiday, share its origin.
WHY DID I REMOVE MY PHOTOS & SUGAR SKULL MAKEUP TUTORIAL?
Even though you can still find some of my sugar skulls makeup tutorials on Google, due to other sites using my images without my consent. I have removed my makeup tutorials and images from all my website and social media sites.
I felt that I didn’t wanted to contribute to diluting this beautiful holiday, tradition and culture by calling it a Halloween makeup tutorial, as it has nothing to do with Halloween or it’s history.
I felt that I wanted to honor this tradition and holiday by removing my content and writing a post like this to educate people who equally love this traditional makeup to learn more about this holiday and it’s roots before considering doing this makeup on Halloween. To have respect for it and to wear this makeup respectfully and tasteful.
My whole YouTube channel revolves around makeup, transformations and halloween makeup, but not culture makeup. I feel that it was tasteless to leave this up on my channel without feeling I might offend someones culture or tradition.
I truly love this holiday and find it to be one of the most beautiful traditions surrounding respecting and communicating with our loved ones who have passed. I hope to one day go to Mexico on Dia De Los Muertos and experience this tradition in person and submerge myself into this holiday fully to truly experience this culture and tradition the way it’s suppose to be experienced. I invite you, to learn more about this beautiful culture and tradition before you consider wearing sugar skulls as Halloween makeup.
“The sugar skull is meant to be the physical representation of the human world connecting with the spiritual world, so you want to give it the care, love, and attention because it represents the souls of our loved ones.”