The Ministries of the Interior, through the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, rejected the denigrating and mocking treatment of the French brand by using Zapotec women from Teotitlán del Valle, as well as profiting from their image, and considering their identity and identity as an object.
Employees of the Sézane clothing firm dressed elderly Zapotec indigenous women in their new season in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. A video revealed how a photographer forces one of the women to get up to dance, while her colleagues laugh and mock.
The images were disseminated through the Instagram account, “Lienzos extroardinario”. The video recording shows an indigenous woman, wearing a green sweater, smiling before photographers of the French brand.
In the account of said social network, it was reported that in exchange for lending her image, the woman would have been given the modest sum of 200 Mexican pesos (about 10 dollars). “The native cultures are treated as a showcase from which you can choose and drink. Without respect. Without ethics ”, it was added in the publication.
Faced with this situation, the Ministries of the Interior, through the National Council to Prevent Discrimination ( Conapred ), and the Ministry of Culture made a call to prioritize dignified and respectful treatment of indigenous peoples, particularly women, elderly people or those who, due to their living conditions, are deprived of enjoying their rights and accessing opportunities under equal conditions and without discrimination.
Likewise, they rejected the denigrating and mocking treatment of the French brand by using Zapotec women from Teotitlán del Valle, as well as profiting from their image, and considering their identity and original context as an object.
In addition, they added that cultural diversity in Mexico is based on indigenous peoples and the people who make them up. “They and they are part of the national identity.” However, they said, despite their great importance, they still face prejudices and stereotypes that denigrate, undervalue or undermine their individual and collective dignity.
Therefore, they highlighted the importance in which any action, image or narrative that seeks to retake indigenous cultural elements in advertising campaigns must “respect the will of the people, guarantee their dignified treatment and promote their ethnic appreciation.”
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) of Mexico condemned the inclusion of indigenous Zapotec women in the activity of the French brand Sézane.
The Institute, based on its powers, indicated that it will dialogue with the Teotitlán authorities and the aggrieved persons to initiate a legal remedy, in accordance with the law, since “these actions threaten the dignity of peoples and communities and reinforce stereotypes racists on indigenous culture and traditions ”.
The INPI recalled that article 2 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that “indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right not to be the object of any type of discrimination in the exercise of their rights, particularly that based on their indigenous origin or identity.”
While article 21 of the Federal Law for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Peoples and Communities highlights that peoples and communities may request the intervention of the competent authority.
This when it is considered that, based on the use of elements of cultural heritage, “acts have been carried out that threaten or affect the dignity and cultural integrity of indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples and communities, without detriment to sanctions for non-pecuniary damage or discrimination. let there be room”.
In addition, the INPI called on private brands and companies to “stop exploiting indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples and communities as cultural capital”, since they are not objects of clothing, but subjects of public law possessing a vast cultural and cultural heritage. traditional knowledge.
In recent years, the Mexican government has addressed letters to different clothing companies in which it speaks out against the misappropriation of the cultural textile designs of various communities in the state of Oaxaca.
It has also invited brands to develop respectful work with indigenous communities, within an ethical framework that does not undermine the identity and the economy of the peoples and is always in adherence to fair trade, which places creators on an equal footing. indigenous people, entrepreneurs and designers.
The French fashion firm Sézane apologized for a video and photographs of an indigenous woman that generated indignation in Mexico and official accusations of exploiting the image of people from indigenous peoples.
“I want to express my deepest apologies for my mistakes,” Sézane founder Morgane Sézalory wrote.
Morgane Sézalory de Sézane apologized and made it clear that her intention was not to manipulate the Zapotec community.
Her message was in English and was shared on Tuesday on the Instagram account @Lienzosextraordinarios of the activist and textile artist Manuela Cortés, who had published the video that sparked the controversy two days earlier.
In the video, the woman is shown sitting and wearing a green vest while being photographed by several young people speaking in French, some of them laughing and not wearing masks. According to the complaint, the woman received 200 pesos for modeling the clothes of the French brand Sézane.
The woman is then invited by a member of the crew to try out some dance moves while the song “Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkin plays.