Mexico: Monkey Proverb


Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda. 


Although the monkey dresses in silk, it’s still a monkey. 


This Mexican proverb was given to me by my friend who is a 20 year old from Mexico City. The exchange happened in the form of an interview while on the USC campus. She claims to have been hearing this ever since she was a child. Her mom would repeatedly say this to her every time they encountered a new person who, according to my friend, was someone her mom did not like or thought was rude. My friend then went on to explain to me how this proverb speaks to how classist of a society Mexico tends to be.  There is a large gap between the different economic sectors of Mexico; 1% of the population is extremely rich while almost 50% of the population live in extreme poverty. According to my friend, this proverb is often used to describe people that come from a poor background and are constantly showing off their newly gained money. In other words, she says that it is used to describe “people that are new rich but don’t have manners.” Hence the image of a monkey being able to dress in silk but still being a monkey regardless of the fancy clothes.


I think this proverb speaks a lot about Mexican society and how it functions. It also says a lot about the inequality in wealth distribution and how class plays an important factor into how people are perceived. Furthermore, it implies that people’s actions are being scrutinized despite their newly acquired wealth and/or status. The end result is to demonstrate how Mexican society is extremely closed off to outsiders of people that have not been a part of it for more than one generation. This is very interesting to me because it delineates how wealth, status, and class are taken into consideration in Mexico City.