Dress' statement is out of fashion
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published April 18, 2007
MEXICO CITY - Miss Mexico is toning down her Miss Universe pageant dress - not because it's too slinky or low-cut, but because its bullet-studded belt and images of hangings from a 1920s uprising have outraged Mexicans.
The floor-length dress is accented with crosses, scapular medals and a sketch of a man facing a firing squad. Designers who helped select the dress from among 30 entries argued it represented the nation's culture and history, especially since Mexico City is hosting the pageant in May.
Cut from a traditional natural cotton called manta, the dress depicts scenes from the 1926-1929 Cristero War, an uprising by Catholic rebels against Mexico's secular government, which was imposing fiercely anticlerical laws. Tens of thousands of people died.
"We are descendants of Cristeros," the gown's designer, Maria del Rayo Macias, told La Jornada newspaper. "Whether we like it or not, it's a part of who we are."
But many Mexicans weren't happy about the history the dress evoked, especially during a debate about the Catholic Church's role in politics and its lobbying against a Mexico City proposal to legalize abortion. Others said it glorified violence in a country where a battle between drug gangs has brought a wave of killings and beheadings.
Mexican church officials also argued that using the war as a fashion statement was disrespectful to the thousands who died, some of whom were later named saints.
By the time the U.S. Embassy helped mediate an end to the violence in 1929, only a few hundred priests remained in Mexico.
"It's not right for Mexico, in an important international event like Miss Universe, to remember this sad and unfortunate fact of our history," Monsignor Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel told La Jornada. "This traditional outfit alludes to events that opened deep wounds."
Representatives of Miss Mexico, Rosa Maria Ojeda, did not return phone calls seeking comment, but said in a statement the dress would be modified. Pageant spokeswoman Esther Swan said the skirt would have ribbons and ruffles and no pattern, while the black top would remain the same.
[Last modified April 18, 2007, 02:34:13]
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