Style

Meet The Modeling Agency That’s Fighting Racial Discrimination In Mexico’s Fashion Industry

Nearly two thirds of Mexicans have dark skin, but brown and black models are still considered “exotic.”

1. A recent analysis by BuzzFeed Mexico found that the country’s most popular magazines are way whiter than the actual Mexican population. At least 80 percent of the people in the 15 publications we looked at have fair skin.

Editorial Televisa / Grupo Expansión / Condé Nast / Notmusa / Media MKT

When presented with the findings, one of the magazine editors told BuzzFeed Mexico that a challenge in representing diversity “was because they did not have, perhaps, more options of models of brown complexion, or enough stock photos of Mexican characters.”

2. Which is why María Osado decided to do something. Osado is a 19-year-old architecture student who grew up reading fashion magazines full of tall, white, blond people.

María Fernanda Molins

For years, she believed that was the only option, until she realized she didn’t identify with the magazines she consumed.

3. Instead of settling for magazines full of people who looked nothing like her, Osado founded Güerxs, a modeling agency that’s challenging the Mexican fashion industry to become more diverse.

4. She decided to enter the business and transform it from within after wondering why dark-skinned models are considered “exotic” in a country where 65 percent of the population is brown or black.

Osado called on her closest friends, began taking pictures and, the next thing she knew, she had a company. She’s received positive feedback, but also some negative comments from people she says “are not ready to digest what’s different.”

5. Osado chose the name Güerxs because she wanted an ambiguous, flexible word in Spanish that wasn’t related to the flawed fashion industry.

She chose the “x” instead of a Spanish gender marker like -os or -as because she does not believe in the binary division of sexuality.

6. Osado says her agency gathers expressions of beauty — not necessarily physical — that aren’t seen in the major magazines and aren’t bounded by society’s definitions of what’s attractive.

“Güerxs is racial diversity, sexual diversity, emotional diversity, body diversity,” she told BuzzFeed Mexico.

7. Güerxs currently employs nine models aged 16 to 24.

Osado says they’re like a tight-knit family that fights to destroy the industry’s conventions and propose something as simple as being happy in your own skin.

8. Osado says she approaches recruiting models without any pre-existing definition of what she’s looking for.

This makes it easier for her to fulfill her goal of building a diverse agency that represents a wide range of personalities.

9. Osado says that though she’s 19 and running an agency, she prefers to consider herself a fashion consumer — or someone who understands the fashion business from both sides.

She sees Güerxs as promoting racial diversity and feminism, as well as representing young people.

10. “I’m not trying to change the world, but I do try for the world not to change me,” she told BuzzFeed Mexico.

Osado says her biggest achievement is seeing people double her age willing to set aside pre-conceived notions and recognize Mexico’s racial diversity.

11. You can follow Güerxs and get to know its work here. They’ll be looking for new models this year.

This post was translated from Spanish.

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