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María Osado has a clear vision of what she wants her modeling agency, Güerxs, to represent in Mexico. In fact, the 19-year-old student typed it all out in a sort of manifesto, visible to everyone on the agency’s website. The first sentence of the stripped-down site says, in Spanish: “Rethinking the fashion industry involves questioning each of its components, exposing its inconsistencies and coming up with something different.” In Mexico, that means challenging and tackling the exotification of brown-skinned models in a country where piel morena isn’t a rare sight — it’s the norm.

As a result, Güerxs stems from a process of thinking about the rigid standards of beauty in Mexico that tend to favor white European features in fashion and media, Osado told us. The agency, she said, exists to provide a platform for a more inclusive ideal of beauty that welcomes different body shapes, skin tones and ethnic characteristics while avoiding gender norms.

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“There’s not just one profile,” Osado said of the models. “But I think we’re looking for people who have a different image than what you see more strongly in the industry.”

If this all sounds more like the stuff of a political statement, that’s the point. For proof, you need look no further than the agency’s name, “Güerxs”, a distinct pun on “güeros”, the label often applied to fair-skinned people, usually blondes and light-eyed in Mexico. Osado found the name – who had be in Spanish, she says — as a tongue-in-cheek reminder of the agency’s goals.

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“So it’s like a tongue-in-cheek word,” Osado said. “It’s as if people were laughing and saying: Where are your güeros? (Indeed, of the agency’s nine models, only one could belong to this term.) x’, a marker of a generational shift towards the asexual “Latinx” identity. It is also a small indicator of how committed the agency is to breaking gender norms and sexist structures. “It’s like they’re not ‘güeros’ or ‘güeras,'” Osado said. “They can be a million other things and that’s fine with us. No problem.”

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As it stands, Güerxs remains a small project with big ambitions. “I think now I think of everyone as ‘one big family,'” she said. “Or, ‘little family’, let’s say.” The roster, after all, is made up mostly of Osado’s friends, many of whom have never modeled professionally before. Most were also skeptical about signing at first, but she rounded them off with a mission. “Let’s reinvigorate the industry because it’s too static,” Osado told them. “We have to give it something new and come up with something different.”

This resonated with 23-year-old Samantha Menchaca, who helped Osado find some of the role models. “Even though there is a great diversity of bodies, the usual is always chosen and it is chosen via racist standards,” she wrote via email. One of the models, Natalia Hernández, 19, has a more subdued approach. The typical aesthetic of modeling in Mexico, she said via WhatsApp, is limited by “appearances” that are more foreign than Mexican, and can leave audiences feeling alienated from what they see. “Also, I think the fact that we’re not just models…can help people feel better about us when they see us in editorial campaigns,” she said.

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Although small, Güerxs does not go unnoticed. Since Osado launched the agency in the spring, they’ve been featured in ID México, Univision, Telemundo’s Al Rojo Vivo, and landed local jobs with Meow Mag, Nike and local businesses.

Its biggest impact so far, however, seems to be its resonance with other young Mexicans who connect strongly with Güerxs mission statement. To be clear, however, Osado said she didn’t want Güerxs to be the poster child for “diversity” in fashion. “[Diversity] is something that already exists,” she said. “We just try to reflect that in the modeling.”

So far, Osado said she’s been trying to find work for her new models while answering dozens of emails from curious fans. “I find it incredible that people are writing to me now who might not have been,” she said. “It’s as if I saw these other young people who identify with what we do. It’s like, at that point, maybe, I don’t know what’s in store for us, but I think we’re doing a good job.