‘Spa Water’ and Other Latino Culture Appropriations Blooming on TikTok

Spa Water TikTok BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of BELatina.

Tik Tok has become the preferred social platform for many — and no wonder. Its appeal lies in the app’s disregard for perfectionism, its wide variety of socially-charged trends, and different takes on current or past events. 

Oftentimes, however, a slew of posts come from creators that don’t necessarily make part of someone’s “For You” page because of their unhinged nature. 

Of course, the desire to go “viral” is very much present, and some people are carelessly stepping into murky waters with their content. But at what cost — other than them making a fool out of themselves? 

For the past few days, the Latino and Black algorithms on Tik Tok have been in an uproar about the blatant cultural appropriation of some creators. 

@gigi_leflair

We seen this back when we were rookies. The rebranding of established POC items. #latino #hispanic #aave #indiantiktok #asiantiktok #curry #aguafresca #duet

♬ original sound – Gigi_LeFlair

At this moment, there are creators making content around spa water, the clean girl aesthetic, and the Mexican core. 

Like Bad Bunny says, “ahora todos quieren ser latino,” pero les falta sazón. 

If irony were tangible, it’d be draped over their content. The demonization of Latinos and immigrants remains, yet our culture is a shiny new toy to play with — until they get bored. Then what? 

Many content creators hope to become relevant by piggybacking on Latinos’ backs, but they’re not getting far. They are getting called out left and right — as they should.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening.

The Spa Water Debacle

Spa water is making rounds on Tik Tok due to its benefits and how refreshing it is. Sure, flavored water is great, but the issue here is how the recipe for the “spa water” concoction they speak of is a direct replica of aguas frescas.

At first glance, content about flavored water is not a big deal. What irked many was the lack of credit to the Latino community, which further encourages cultural appropriation without any regard. 

@strawberrryc0ugh

#greenscreenvideo girl made an agua fresca and passed it off as “spa water” 😭 #fyp #foryou #parati #paratupagina

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Aguas frescas have been present in Mexican culture since pre-Columbian times. It is believed that the Aztecs would travel to gather fresh fruits in what’s now Mexico City for their aguas frescas. 

This tasty beverage, which comes in an assortment of flavors, made its way to the United States around the 1940s. These fruit infusions were sold in carts similar to those used by paleteros.  

@erikangel_

#greenscreen its the clean girl aesthetic☺️✨ #spawater

♬ original sound – Erika Angel

Spa water is canceled out by aguas frescas — because it is aguas frescas. 

@xochimireles

#greenscreenvideo #greenscreen So much better 🥰💞 This is called Aguas Frescas 💖 not spa water. Stop appropriating my culture #fyp #latinastiktok #latinostiktok #latinoamerica #spawater #gentrification #cultureappropriation #aguasfrescas

♬ Cool Kids (Sped-Up Version) – Echosmith

Clean Girl Aesthetic is a rebrand to Black and Brown cultures

Large gold hoops, hair tied in a slicked-back ponytail, and glossy lips — does that sound familiar to you? Well, that’s because it’s been present in the Latino and Black cultures for decades. 

However, when we wore it, we were called cholas, chongas, or trashy. 

Fast forward to this weird reality we are part of, and “fashionistas” are calling it the “clean girl aesthetic.” Meanwhile, a few years back, I was told not to wear hoops to work because it was unprofessional. At this point, we should start charging people to use our culture whenever it benefits them. I guess we are all the “it” girls now? 

Our regular routine is… back?

@brittrodriguezz

But why did my grandma put so much gel? 🤣😭 #lowbun #mexicanlife #cleangirl #cleangirlaesthetic #cleangirllook #mexicanamerican #mexicana #latina

♬ sonido original – Erick Maravillas

Yeah, it’s kind of racist. 

@basicallyitsemma

Some not all

♬ original sound – L

Somehow, we were rebranded. 

@lipstickittty

Replying to @323lababy article linked in comments #lalatina #latinatok #latinatiktok #cleangirlaesthetic

♬ Cómo Te Voy A Olvidar – Los Ángeles Azules

WTF is Mexican-core?

Mexican culture and anything that remotely looks Latino are making Americans go wild. Some are even romanticizing it, pretending to understand the complexity of someone else’s culture. So, many Latino and Mexican Tik Tokers have taken it upon themselves to upload ironic content explaining why Mexican core is utter BS. Thank goodness for Latino humor. 

#OMGSoMexicana

@._.jeb

yall gotta stop with the #mexicancore #mexicanaesthetic #latinacore tomfoolery

♬ Soledad y el Mar (feat. Los Macorinos) – Natalia Lafourcade

No culture should be someone else’s trend.

@yulecuteart

And then claming you created a new trend when its been done for years.. #mexicancore🥺🥺🥺

♬ Soledad y el Mar (feat. Los Macorinos) – Natalia Lafourcade

Let’s see what else gets appropriated next. May we suggest our generational trauma? 

@jesusacevedox43

Basta ya de sus estupideces😤

♬ original sound – jesusacevedox