Eva Amurri Martino defends daughter’s Mexican-themed birthday party: Now is a 'great time to celebrate Mexico’

Eva Amurri Martino (pictured with mom Susan Sarandon in 2013) got some backlash over her daughter's Mexico-inspired birthday party. (Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images for Heifer International)

Eva Amurri Martino is defending throwing a Mexican-themed birthday party for her 5-year-old daughter Marlowe after being accused of promoting cultural stereotypes. The “Cinco de Marlowe” event featured a taco-shaped piñata, frozen margaritas for the grown-ups and Day of the Dead-style sugar skull face paint for the birthday girl.

Martino, the actress daughter of Oscar winner Susan Sarandon and Italian director Franco Amurri, posted photos from the party on social media as well as her parenting blog, Happily Eva After.

While many of her followers were wowed by the “creative” celebration, some commenters considered the theme to be culturally insensitive, particularly in light of the ongoing border crisis.

“Happy birthday to your beautiful daughter,” read one comment. “In the future though, maybe consider doing research on other people’s culture and the meanings behind their traditions before you just kind of throw together some stereotypes. It’s interesting to have your kid’s party be ‘Mexican culture’-themed, when Mexican children are currently in cages at the border, and their families are being separated. Consider donating as much money as you spent on this party to RAICES, the refugee and immigrant center for education and legal services, so these families whose culture you seem to care so much about, maybe have a fighting chance at staying alive.”

Martino (with husband Kyle Martino in 2012) has acted in productions like Californication and Saved!. (Photo: REUTERS/Fred Prouser)

“Cute kids! Happy birthday to your daughter! However, it's pretty strange to see a white family just blatantly using another culture as a party theme,” added another concerned commenter. “Did you do something to teach the kids about the culture they are celebrating? Like, this could be a really great idea if instead of gifts the kids donated to help children trapped at the border.”

Martino responded to the criticism in a follow-up post explaining her intentions and apologizing to “anyone we offended.” The mom of two explained that the party theme stemmed from Marlowe being “obsessed with Mexico” thanks the film Coco as well as the “incredible Latin women” who have provided childcare. Martino added that the treatment of migrant children at the border also inspired her to make a statement in support of Mexico, telling followers, “This theme was picked because of a love for Mexico and its people and a desire to celebrate in the midst of a lot of hate.”

“With everything going on in this political climate, I thought now would be a great time to celebrate Mexico and the role it has had in our country culturally,” she wrote. “Anybody who knows Marlowe knows she is obsessed with Mexico — she has had incredible Latin women taking care of her from three weeks old, and one in particular from Mexico who would always call her ‘cinco de Marlowe’ on May 5th. Spanish was actually Marlowe’s first language before English, which made me really proud that she was getting so much from another culture.

“We moved from Los Angeles, but when the movie Coco came out, Marlowe loved it and felt really connected to it because she had heard about a lot of the themes of the movie from people she cares about. She wanted all these things brought together for her fifth birthday since she was finally, actually turning ‘cinco’! Of course this party was a rudimentary representation of Mexican culture since it was for young kids. This aside, we don’t only think it’s important to highlight the beauty of Mexican culture, or the horrors of the attack on Mexicans of late, with a bday party. From when this all first started, we have been donating to those affected ... We also have been calling our senators.”

She continued: “Somebody reached out to me directly (in a kind way) to let me know that Marlowe’s theme offended them. They didn’t know the reasoning behind why we picked it, but I wanted to take a minute to say that this theme was picked because of a love for Mexico and its people and a desire to celebrate in the midst of a lot of hate. Regardless of that, I know so many emotions are running high right now surrounding this topic, so sorry to anyone we offended!”

The response from followers was mostly positive, with many saying that they appreciated her addressing the thorny issue.

“This is so sweet and I'm glad your daughter celebrated with this theme especially if she has Hispanic influences,” one wrote. “You shouldn’t have to explain yourself to all these idiots with some ignorant opinions that aren’t of Mexican culture themselves. The beauty of everything we celebrate in this world is being tarnished by ignorance. Leave it to social media and trolls with nothing better to do but criticize people that are happy.”

“I am Mexican and I see no offense to this,” added another commenter. “My cousin did a Mexican-themed baby shower for herself. To those that are offended usually I find them to have nothing going in their life and being upset is something for them to have. There are more pressing issues occurring in this country, especially towards Mexicans. Let's concentrate more on those issues than a child’s birthday party.”

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