Navigating Mexico: The Weather Girls
By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
Back in 1952, when U.S. TV news was dominated by men, long before the days of Barbara Walters, Carol Reed was the first weather girl on the CBS local news in New York City.
By the time the mid-1960s rolled around, stations across the United States were competing against each other with their respective weather girls’ miniskirts and tight sweaters. As these sexualized characters faded away in the mid to late 1970s, and serious female journalists were given a seat at the anchor desks, networks moved from the weather girl model to the meteorologist, someone with an actual degree in the climatic sciences who could be of either sex and who were not there for their looks, but to give actual weather predictions.
A scantily dressed woman walking around, reading the weather on the news in the United States today would likely spark strong protests from feminists.
Some 40 years after that transition in the United States, try watching a typical Mexican news broadcast. About 50 percent have made the switch to desexualizing the weather anchor. While the role still is typically held by a woman, she is usually dressed the way any other professional female reporter would dress.
So what about the other half of the news broadcasts? Are they still stuck in 1975?
Check for yourself. Extremely tight, body-hugging dresses, very short hemlines and stiletto heels with which no mere mortal could navigate. For the most part, these girls are still not dressed like the other female reporters, but more like they are headed out to a club or a dance in frilly party outfits, certainly not business attire.
Without saying the names of the stations, judge for yourself. Why has Mexico made some significant strides forward in the area of women’s rights, but the sexy weather girl still exists in 2022?
Maybe we just think we have made some steps forward. Mexico has a beautiful law with 88 articles from the time of President Vicente Fox that is actually called the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination.
However, the reality is that about 10 women are killed every day in Mexico, and the rate of femicides has doubled in the last five years.
Last year, the number of femicides in Mexico increased by 3.3 percent over 2020, and between when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) took office in December 2018 and February of this year, 3,038 women had been killed as a result of gender-based violence.
Mexico has only formally tracked femicides since 2012, when it ranked in 16th place (to the bottom) globally for gender-based murders. Even with incorrectly reported data, some still categorized as homicides, Mexico now ranks as the 13th worst country in the world for intentional homicides of women on the Index Mundi scale.
An even more interesting study, because it measures multiple factors, is the Woman’s Danger Index, which in addition to measuring femicides, measures several other factors: the percentage of women who feel unsafe walking alone at night, non-partner sexual violence, intimate partner violence, legal discrimination, global gender gap, gender inequality and violence against women attitudes. Mexico ranked as the fourth worst country in the world based on the 50 most visited nations by tourists.
It is 2022 and there are still weather girls on major national Mexican news broadcasts. Themes like incongruence, actions speak louder than words, and peddling to the lowest instincts come to mind.