This Woman Made History As the First Indigenous Queen of a Beauty Pageant in Mexico

Her name is Yukaima González, and she used to think that because she didn't have blonde hair or bright eyes, she wouldn't even be considered as a beauty pageant contestant. Yet her indigenous beauty stunned the judges.

Yukaima is a member of the Huichol, one of the oldest indigenous communities in Mexico. The Huichol are settled in various parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental, or Sierra Huichola, between the Mexican states of Durango, Jalisco, and Nayarit.

"Yukaima" is the 18-year-old Sports Science student's indigenous name. Her 'legal name' is María Isabel, but she doesn't use it. In Huichol culture, grandparents give their grandchildren indigenous names, and they don't just choose them at random -- they come to them in their dreams.

But while the Huichol are capable of dreaming up a number of things, never, in a million years, would they have thought one of their own could win a beauty pageant. Colonizers did a great job of instilling in everyone the idea that indigenous women were not beautiful, and that only blonde, tall, and bright-eyed women could participate in and win these contests.

It was a photographer and friend of Yukaima's who made her realize just how beautiful she is and encouraged her to participate in the Nayarit pageant. Fortunately, Yukaima took his advice, despite the fact that she is very shy and has a deathly fear of public speaking.

Yukaima's story isn't just that of a shy girl who won a beauty pageant. Her pageant win is also, in a way, a victory for indigenous culture over the discrimination to which it has been subjected for centuries.

Yukaima made sure to mention that she was inspired by Yalitza Aparicio, an indigenous Mexican actress who was recently nominated for an Oscar for the film Roma, by Alfonso Cuarón.

Yukaima also considers her an ally in the fight for the rights of indigenous communities. Although a new wind of hope is blowing across indigenous communities, they still have a long way to go to achieve equal rights and the recognition they deserve.

You'd have to be blind not to appreciate the value of their struggle and the beauty of their indigenous features.

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