Babywearing International has been eagerly following recent conversations in the babywearing community around the world regarding the use of the term “rebozo” in babywearing education.
A rebozo is “A fringed shawl that is a traditional female garment in Mesoamerican* culture, used for a variety of purposes including labor/childbirth support, goods carrier, and baby carrier.” (from Glossary of Babywearing Terms). Rebozos are often handwoven fabrics passed down through families and imbued with great significance. From the 1960’s through the 1980’s, as babywearing became popular in Western parenting, many traditional carriers were observed, copied, modified, and commercialized by companies in Europe and the United States. In Germany, imported rebozo shawls from Mexico and Central America inspired the start of the Didymos woven wrap company. In English language usage, the word “rebozo” came to mean many things which were not in fact rebozos, including shorter length wraps, wraps tied at the shoulder, and a wrap pass going from the caregiver’s shoulder to under the arm without passing between the child’s legs.
In recent weeks, many babywearers have begun discussing and actively trying to correct this usage. There have been excellent conversations in the Facebook Groups CCBW Reviews and Base Love regarding the use of the term “rebozo” and possible alternatives. This has also led to a campaign known as #TakeBackTheRebozo in which babywearers of Mesoamerican* heritage have been exploring their connections to the rebozo through personal heritage. For many caregivers, wearing a baby in a rebozo is a way of participating in the living history of parenting in their own families and celebrating a cultural tradition passed down through the generations. For others, it is a way of reconnecting with a history that was interrupted or lost.
Babywearing International strongly supports these efforts to correct the use of the word “rebozo” in the babywearing community. We recognize the impact of cultural appropriation on the use of this term and support a move towards terminology that appreciates and celebrates rather than appropriates and erases. We also recognize that finding new terminology is both a challenge and an ongoing journey. Babywearing International would like to engage in ongoing conversations regarding these terms. As consensus develops within the babywearing community, we will update the language in all of our educational materials and documents.
We want to say a huge thank you to the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee members who drafted this statement which is fully supported by the board of directors.
*We first published this article with incorrect information. We had said Latin America/Latinx instead of Mesoamerican. We are sorry for this error. Rebozo is specific to Mesoamerican culture and Mesoamerican decedents.