An Indigenous Teen Just Won a Major Beauty Pageant in Mexico


Nayarit has its first ever indigenous beauty pageant queen! Yukaima González, an 18-year-old from La Yesca, Nayarit, Mexico, was crowned the winner of the 2019 Feria Nayarit beauty pageant, which takes place at the annual cultural gathering. González is a part of the Wixárika indigenous community that is an extension of the Huichol tribe. This historic win for González is a huge step forward for the representation of Mexico’s indigenous population. The timing of this win could not have been better, especially after the racist treatment that some in the Mexican community have shown actress Yalitza Aparicio.

But first, please indulge me as I briefly rejoice. My family and I also have roots within the Huichol tribe. We are from the Cora community, who also share many of the same beliefs and customs as González’s people. For many years, while visiting the state of Nayarit, I have witnessed the separation between the indigenous people and the middle and working class. The Huichol people — while celebrated somewhat by tourists — are often cast aside. For example, in the capital of Tepic, the Huichol people have their neighborhood up in the mountains, away from the city, and make a living by selling arts and crafts. We should add that the Huichol people not only reside in Nayarit but also in the state of Jalisco. Lately, however, I have seen a lot of growth and acceptance of this marginalized community.

One of the most poignant images from González’s moment on stage in the pageant is her dressed in full Huichol attire, carrying a massive and elaborate yarn sculpture made in the shape of a cross that is called El Ojo de Dios — the eye of God. Their rituals and customs date back to the Mayan and Aztec era when the natives ruled the country. So, seeing González parade her culture with pride is so inspiring and beautiful.

The Feria Nayarit beauty pageant — like most beauty pageants — typically celebrates women with whiter skin and Eurocentric features, which is mindboggling because  Mexico’s indigenous community makes up a huge part of the country’s population. Their beauty and talents should not be excluded.

This video below is a perfect example of that. The two remaining beauties were González and another woman who is staggering in height and has long auburn wavy hair. That is a startling — and refreshing — contradiction to González who is shorter and has long brown straight hair. The point is: all types of women should be celebrated!

The TV news program El Punto reports that González was one of two indigenous women that entered the beauty competition and they’re calling it the “Yalitza effect.” That goes to show, if you see people that look like you being represented correctly in the arts, in business, and in the world, that will inspire others to achieve their dreams.

I  will leave you this touching video of González, after her big win, walking off stage and greeting her mother. It’s simply beautiful.

Felicidades, Yukaima!!

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