The Toronto Star reports that Miss Mexico is toning down her Miss Universe pageant dress - not because it's too slinky or low-cut, but because its bullet-studded belt and images of hangings from the Cristero uprising have outraged Mexicans.
The floor-length dress is accented with crosses, scapulars and a sketch of a man facing a firing squad. Designers who helped select the dress from among 30 entries argued it represented the nation's culture and history, especially since Mexico City is hosting the pageant in May.
Miss Mexico, Rosa Maria Ojeda, presented the dress on 29 March, showing off the billowing, hoop skirt adorned with sketches of Catholic rebels hanging from posts.
Cut from a traditional natural cotton called manta, the dress depicts scenes from the 1926-1929 Cristero war, an uprising by Catholic rebels against Mexico's secular government, which was imposing fiercely anti-clerical laws.
"We wanted a dress that made you think of Mexico," Hector Terrones, who served on the selection committee, told La Jornada newspaper. "The design should grab people's attention and have impact without giving too much information."
But many Mexicans weren't happy about the history the dress evoked, especially at a moment of debate about the Catholic Church's role in politics and its lobbying against a Mexico City proposal to legalise abortion.
Others said it glorified violence in a country where a battle between drug gangs has brought a wave of killings and beheadings.
The gown's designer, Maria del Rayo Macias, told La Jornada that "we are descendants of Cristeros. Whether we like it or not, it's a part of who we are," Macias is from Guadalajara, a city in what was the Cristero heartland.
But Mexican church officials argued that using the war as a fashion statement was disrespectful to the thousands who died, some of whom were later named saints.
"It's not right for Mexico, in an important international event like Miss Universe, to remember this sad and unfortunate fact of our history," Monsignor Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel told La Jornada. "This traditional outfit alludes to events that opened deep wounds."
Miss Mexico alters pageant dress showing hangings (Toronto Star, 17/4/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cristero War (Wikipedia)
Rosa María Ojeda (Wikipedia)
19 Apr 2007