The state of Oaxaca in Mexico has banned the use of public funds in beauty contests after the local Congress labeled such events as "symbolic violence" against women.

According to Mexico News Daily, Oaxaca became the first state in Mexico to make such a prohibition. The legal modification bans the use of public funds for beauty contests such as Miss Universe or Miss World, where the physique of women of any age is evaluated. However, it does not ban such events from taking place.

El País reported that the initiative to consider beauty contests as symbolic violence against women was promoted by the state's Permanent Commission for Gender Equality led by Magaly López. 

López, a deputy from Morena, was also known to fight against junk food in her state.

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Mexico's Oaxaca Illegalizes the Use of Public Funds in Beauty Contests

The law will penalize and fine state and municipal government institutions that will allocate funds to beauty contests, wherein women and girls would be judged by their physical characteristics.

The local Congress agreed that the beauty contests promote sexist and "macho" patterns that stigmatize, objectify, and minimize the role women play in the society.

According to López, the initiative aims to dispel the "sexist stereotypes" upheld by beauty contests. She noted that it was necessary to change the "cultural practices" that are damaging to women.

The said legal action will also prevent governing institutions from using such beauty contests to promote tourism or for official publicity.

Mexico's southern state Oaxaca was known to be the center of feminist politics in recent years. During their 2018 election, Mexico News Daily reported that the state Congress became majority female for the first time. In 2019, the state becomes second in decriminalizing abortion before 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Mexico on Beauty Contests

The legal modification in Oaxaca regarding the beauty contests came after the Mexico's Chamber of Deputies approved a similar measure last February.

The measure also characterized beauty pageants and other gender-based competitions based on appearance as symbolic violence against women.

Mexico's lower house approved to add a provision to the General Law of Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence, which was adopted in 2007. The said law intended to combat gender-based violence. 

The bill defines symbolic violence as "the expression, transmission or broadcasting by any media... (of) discourses, messages, or stereotypical patterns, signs, icons, values, and ideas that transmit, reproduce, justify, or normalize the subordination, discrimination, inequality, and violence against women in society."

If the bill passes the Senate, Deputy Frida Esparza Márquez told Animal Político the law would not make beauty contests illegal but only prohibit the government from supporting such events in any way.

Mexico's Gender Equality Commission recommended to the Mexican Congress to ban beauty contests in 2020.

Beauty contests have been popular in Mexico for several years. In fact, many Mexicans have achieved crowns or titles in international competitions. 

Some of the Mexican women who won international titles are Vanessa Ponce De Leon as Miss World 2018, Sofia Aragon as 2nd Runner-Up during the Miss Universe 2019, and Andrea Meza who was crowned Miss Universe 2021.

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Written By: Joshua Summers

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