Not just anyone can be a good Lady. To earn this moniker in Mexico you need to achieve two things: believe you are above the law, and behave that way in front of a video camera. Driving while under the influence, insulting and striking a police officer, attempting to bribe the authorities with $6 or throwing trash where it’s prohibited are no longer just deplorable illegal actions. They may be a springboard to fame.
The video of Daniela Aguirre – or “Lady 100 Pesos” – trying to bribe an officer after she was stopped for driving while intoxicated has beaten all kinds of records on social media. She is also about to make the cover of Playboy. Aguirre will also be signing autographs for fans this Sunday.
Welcome to the world of Mexican “ladies.”
“The name is due to social prejudice and class resentment. They call them ‘ladies’ because we associate the upper class with a lot of power, so it’s ironic,” says Mariluz Garay, a lecturer on communication at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) who studies social media. Garay says the videos are successful because people “take pleasure in seeing the rich who believe they are above the law acting stupid.”
The videos of these altercations trend for days on social media. The most well known of them all features the daughter of Humberto Benítez, director of the Federal Attorney’s Office of the Consumer (PROFECO). Andrea Benítez, or Lady Profeco, entered a hip restaurant in Mexico City and demanded to be seated right away. She refused to wait her turn. Since she felt she had received “terrible service” she called on her father’s office for help and PROFECO officials shuttered the establishment. The incident provoked such outrage that the Mexican government had to open an investigation, which led to her father’s resignation.
In 2011 two well-to-do women known as the Polanco Ladies insulted and struck an officer for arresting them after they had caused a car accident. “You fucking shitty manwhore, fuck your mother you fucking wage-earner!” one woman shouted. The video has received nearly one million views on YouTube.
“We all have a voyeuristic side and we like seeing someone in such a compromising situation. And even more so if it is a powerful person,” says Raúl Trejo, a professor of sociology at UNAM. “Society’s masses choose little idols, to whom they grant 15 minutes of fame and celebrate only because they are curious, extravagant, grotesque. But it’s ephemeral.”
Recently, Daniela Aguirre (Lady 100 Pesos) was driving an expensive car in Guanajuato when the police stopped her after she crashed into a series of other vehicles. She offered the officer 100 pesos ($6) to settle the issue. She was arrested and fined 1,500 pesos. Less than one week later, she landed a Playboy cover. Her video has received more than two million hits on YouTube and even inspired a Mexican ballad.
And then there are the other ladies. On Wednesday, Olga Medrano won the gold medal at the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad. Twitter users used the hashtag “LadyMatemáticas” to show their support for a different kind of achievement. Still, experts say the morbid curiosity we satisfy when we see a “nice girl” in a tough situation will never be overshadowed by our admiration for academic feats.
English version by Dyane Jean François.