The Dress: What an Indigenous Woman's Gown Tells Us About Sofía Vergara's Golden Globe Pick

Magdalena Quinilla Batz is not Sofía Vergara.

Odds are she will never strut down the Golden Globes red carpet wearing a Gucci gown.


When you look at Magdalena you can almost convince yourself that the red carpet is part of some fictional universe. There’s no way her portrait and Sofía's many commercials and memorable Modern Family moments can exist in the same reality.

Nothing against Sofía Vergara or her employers—we love CoverGirl as much as any other woman—but Magdalena makes a compelling argument, doesn’t she? Just look at her.


Magdalena is one of many photographed by Juan Carlos Lemus Dahinten and her picture is currently hanging in the new Rabín Ajaw exhibit at The Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC.

The photographs represent traditions in more ways than one: Rabín Ajaw, a ceremonial dress competition, has taken place in Guatemala for more than four decades--about twenty-five more years than the Golden Globes. The photographer attended the 2011 competition to collect a treasure trove of portraits.

I struggled with picking a picture to start this article. All the women in the portraits are worth a good, long look.

Magdalena’s eyes or Yesenia’s swaddled, confident silhouette?

Teresa’s braids or Idanea’s pure white cloth?


I didn’t get it at first. How can Magdalena possibly be compared to superstars?

But the longer you look at this indigenous Guatemalan woman the more it makes sense. Her style--choice of colors, fabric, and patterns--makes a statement just as strong as our Hollywood stars at every award show. Most important, her face doesn't show a trace of timidity. She looks directly into the camera as if she knows all the people behind it--the photographer taking her picture and the hundreds who will see it on display--are her equals.

Magdalena is not Sofía Vargara. But perhaps the two have more in common than we realize: the use of clothing or fashion choices allow women to walk a little taller or with more swagger.

That's confidence and it's universal.

“RABÍN AJAW: Indigenous Ceremonial Dress of Guatemala” will be on view from January 9th until March 29th, 2013 at the American Museum of the Americas F Street Gallery in Washington, DC.


The Wise Latina Club's Dulce-Marie Flecha is a rising senior at Penn State. When she is not writing her honors thesis, she is trying to learn a fourth language, feeding her fashion obsession by Googling her favorite designers’, or begging the Yankees to hit with runners in scoring position. Click here to read more about and connect with Dulce-Marie.

What cultural event would you love to see captured in portraits? A quinceñera? A parade?