Friday, April 20, 2007

Miss Mexico 'war gown' toned down

A dress set to be worn by Miss Mexico in the Miss Universe pageant is being redesigned - because it is too violent, not because it is too revealing.

The original flowing dress depicted scenes from a Roman Catholic uprising against Mexico's secular state in the 1920s, in which thousands died.

It provoked uproar, with critics saying the theme was inappropriate for next month's competition in Mexico City.

Designers now say the dress is being modified as a result of the concerns.

The original outfit was chosen by designers ahead of nearly 30 other gowns, in order, as they put it, to represent Mexico's culture and history.

Miss Mexico, Rosa Maria Ojeda, wore the dress in public, showing off the billowing, hoop skirt adorned by scenes from the 1926-1929 Cristero War.

Among the images were Roman Catholic rebels hanging from posts, and a man facing a firing squad.

The outfit was completed by rosaries and scapularies hanging from a bullet-studded belt, topped off with a crucifix necklace and a wide-brimmed sombrero.

Designer Maria del Rayo Macias told La Jornada newspaper: "We are descendants of Cristeros. Whether we like it or not, it's a part of who we are."

But critics said the use of such images was in poor taste and inappropriate.

"It would be like Miss USA wearing a dress showing images of the Ku Klux Klan in the Deep South, with their hoods, their burning crosses and beer cans," wrote a columnist for La Jornada, Jorge Camil, in a recent article.

"A beauty contest is very far from being the right place to vent political and religious ideologies," he wrote.


Church officials also expressed concern at the use of images from the Cristero War.

"This traditional outfit alludes to events that opened deep wounds," Monsignor Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel told La Jornada.

The secular government that emerged from the Mexican Revolution tightened anti-clerical laws, provoking a conflict in which churches and convents were closed and foreign priests expelled.

The dress is now being redone to remove the offending images and scenes of death, the designers said.

The outfit due to be worn by Miss Mexico in the competition on 28 May will now include images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and of women who participated in the Cristero rebellion, reports said.

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