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Letisia Marquez

Ximena-Navarrete.jpgOh, no! A woman from Guadalajara, Jalisco in Mexico with big, beautiful eyes has just been crowned Miss Universe! I have to steel myself for one of my uncle's inevitable response.

"¿No les dije?," the Guadalajara transplant will say, jutting out his chin in his arrogant way. "Las mujeres de Guadalajara son las más bonitas porque tienen ojos tapatios."

"Didn't I tell you? The women from Guadalajara are the most beautiful because they have tapatio eyes."

So what are ojos tapatíos and why do I scorn the term?

They are large, gorgeous, dark eyes and are typically associated with tapatía women, or those from the central state of Jalisco. A Jalisciense will tell you that only tapatías can have the coveted eyes although, in reality, there are women with alluring eyes throughout Mexico.

In 1938, a Mexican movie titled "OjosTapatíos" was made and then again in 1961. An old song titled "Ojos Tapatíos" roughly says: "There are no prettier eyes in my country than the black eyes of a tapatía; her looks kill, shining pupils, it's night when they sleep and day when they look at us."

And so the legend of ojos tapatíos continues to this day.

For someone whose lineage is from Zacatecas by way of Durango, the boasts always sound like a put down.

It's like in many Jaliscienses' eyes no one else can possibly be beautiful!

Uncle Sabino, for instance, says his daughter has tapatía eyes. She certainly is attractive but she has tapatío and Duranguese eyes because she also is my aunt's daughter.

And when I did a Google search for ojos tapatíos, the first images that came up were of white-looking Mexican women with green and blue eyes! What! Have they not read the lyrics to the song!

One Mexican singer has an album titled "Ojos Tapatíos" and the cover shows a woman with big, bluish-greyish eyes.

This is how much all those white-looking women - that are so prevalent on Spanish-language telenovelas, commercials and music videos - have corrupted Mexicans' conception of beauty and ojos tapatíos.

I hope that the new Miss Universe - Ximena Navarrete - will clear up the confusion about ojos tapatíos. Her eyes are straight from the song.

Big. Smoldering. Dark. Radiant when paired with her brown skin and hair.

(Which means her brown skin might not land her a starring role on a Mexican telenovela!)

Reading online threads I came across a posting on the Nuestros Ranchos (Our Villages) website that Uncle Sabino should read.

Alberto Duarte Prieto of Santa Maria, CA indeed boasts that his wife is from Los Altos, Jalisco and has ojos tapatíos.

He ends by writing: "But of course, most Mexican women have beautiful eyes."

I couldn't agree with Alberto more.

Because, come to think of it, my 15-month old daughter Iliana, with black, shining eyes, has ojos tapatíos too!

Letisia Marquez is a former newspaper reporter who currently works as a publicist. She is the mother of two children.

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