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Mexican Magazines Are Way Whiter Than The Actual Mexican Population

More than half of Mexico's population identifies as dark-skinned, but you wouldn't know it flipping through the pages of the country's most popular magazines. From BuzzFeed Mexico.

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Though brown and black people make up the majority of the population, lighter-skinned Mexicans dominate in the country's elite upper classes.

Grandriver / Getty Images

According to Mexico's National Council to Prevent Discrimination, half of Mexicans believe that people are insulted in the street for the color of their skin. Almost a quarter of the population admitted that they would not allow someone of another race to live in their home.

That's why BuzzFeed Mexico analyzed the content in 15 of the most popular magazines in Mexico to see how they represent Mexican diversity — or don't.

To select our sample, we considered the magazines' circulation and their relevance in categories like fashion, lifestyle and society.

These are the magazines we studied:

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

We analyzed racial representation in the December issues of each magazine, based on the following factors:

- Publishing house

- Type of magazine

- Number of pages

- Target audience

- Cover model or featured image

- Complexion and nationality of the person on the cover

- Total number of people who appear in the magazine*

- Number of people with white or light complexions

- Number of people with dark, brown or black complexions

- Number of men

- Number of women

*We counted all faces that appeared in editorial content and advertisements. We didn't count people who appeared on book jackets, in TV shows or in movies that were covered or advertised in the magazines.

Dark-skinned individuals make up — at maximum — 20 percent of the people shown in these 15 magazines.

BuzzFeed Mexico

In a room of ten people in real-life Mexico, six would have dark skin. In the world presented by Mexican magazines, only two would be brown or black.

The most inclusive magazine in our study was 15 a 20, a publication focused on teen content. About 20 percent of the people in its December issue have dark skin.

BuzzFeed México

That's 13 out of 63. Two of those are Mexican YouTubers. And though this magazine led the pack in our analysis, 20 percent representation isn't particularly high in a country where 65 percent of people are brown or black.

None of the people on the covers of the magazines we looked at have dark skin.

BuzzFeed México

Ten of these 15 magazines had a Mexican person on the cover, but none of them would be considered moreno.

When dark-skinned Mexicans do appear on magazine pages, they tend to be in stories about philanthropy, charity events or travel.

BuzzFeed México

In Esquire, the only two dark-skinned Mexicans in the issue appeared in content about an entrepreneurship program.

In Vanity Fair México, we found only one indigenous child in content about an educational charity, and three other dark-skinned Mexican people at an event with the president and first lady of Mexico.

In Quién, Indigenous activist Eufrosina Cruz is one of the few dark-skinned people in the magazine and appears dressed in traditional Zapotec clothing.

In Vanidades, the only dark-skinned people in the issue are three Indigenous people in a story on the celebration of Day of the Dead in Spain.

In Marie Claire México, the majority of the dark-skinned people appear in a photo feature about Havana, Cuba.

The rest of the brown and black people appearing in the magazines are non-Mexican celebrities or political figures, like Beyoncé and Barack Obama.

BuzzFeed México

Also featured: Rihanna, Joan Smalls, John Legend, Bruno Mars, Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez and Eva Longoria.

BuzzFeed Mexico reached out to the editors of these magazines for comment on our findings.

When presented with the data showing 7 percent of the people in her magazine were brown or black, Mamen Sanchez, the director of ¡Hola! México, demanded an apology from BuzzFeed Mexico.

"Never in my life — neither as a professional journalist nor as a human being — have I ever made the slightest distinction because of a person's skin color," she said. "I have always known to look at what lies behind something as insignificant as color, beauty, gender, perfection, or any other scale that serves to measure people by qualities different from those of their dignity as human beings."

Daniela Von Wobeser, the editorial director of Marie Claire Mexico, which BuzzFeed's analysis showed is about 15 percent brown or black, said the magazine presents "a diverse representation of women, not only because of their skin color" throughout the year.

She stressed that the magazine promotes "the inclusion of all the voices of our gender regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, different abilities or size."

"It is our daily work to continue to represent more women and to gradually change the antiquated concepts of 'aspiration' and the canons of beauty," she said. "There is still a lot to be done, however, in Marie Claire, we have the firm task of continuing to promote diversity in our pages and content."

Ligia Bang, editor of Fernanda magazine, said that this "is a phenomenon that has been going on for decades, and that for better or for worse, we have all been promoting it unconsciously: consumers, readers, media, advertisers, TV channels... Through our buying decisions, our attitudes, our choices, our comments."

Bang said one of the reasons they have not been able to represent the diversity of the Mexican population "was because they did not have, perhaps, more options of models of brown complexion, or enough stock photos of Mexican characters."

Mariana Gallardo, editorial director of 15 a 20, said that the editorial decisions of the magazine "are based on the talent of those who appear on our pages. We consider ourselves to be a 100% inclusive magazine."

"Our cover and interior choices are not based in physical stereotypes, but talent and popularity," she told BuzzFeed Mexico.

The editor of Harper's Bazaar en Español, Adma Kawage, stressed that the magazine's commitment "is to include, encourage and celebrate — in each of our editions — the Mexican and Latin American characters who shape the industry and promote its development." Regarding the criteria used for the people within the publication, she said "talent, not the skin tone, [is] the filter that guides our editorial work."

This post will be updated if BuzzFeed hears back from additional magazine companies and editors. BuzzFeed News has also reached out to the US corporate offices of Hearst, which publishes Esquire and Marie Claire, and Condé Nast, which publishes Vanity Fair.

You can also read this post in Spanish.

CORRECTION

There are 1.4 million Mexicans of African descent. A previous version of this post misstated the amount.

Susie Armitage is the Global Managing Editor and is based in New York.

Contact Susie Armitage at susie.armitage@buzzfeed.com.

Karla Agis es redactora de BuzzFeed y vive en la Ciudad de México.

Contact Karla Agis at karla.agis@buzzfeed.com.

Mireya Hernández es redactora de BuzzFeed México y vive en la Ciudad de México

Contact Mireya González at mireya.gonzalez.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.

Javier Aceves (Baxter) es Editor en Jefe de BuzzFeed México y vive en la Ciudad de México.

Contact Baxter at javier.aceves@buzzfeed.com.

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