, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 19-33

“Let’s become fewer”: Soap operas, contraception, and nationalizing the Mexican family in an overpopulated world

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Abstract

This article explores the emergence of Mexico’s campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s to reduce population increase. Using primarily archival material from the National Population Council in Mexico City, the author argues that federal health organizations, in particular the Population Council, embraced the use of oral contraception and family planning as the means to introduce modern role models for a forward-looking Mexico. The majority of billboards, soap operas, and radio spots that aired the message focused on dissuading Mexicans from falling into stereotypical behaviors, among them having too many children. In the attempt to reshape traditional attitudes and link a so-called foreign pill to everyday Mexican actions, however, the campaigns reinforced racial and class divisions while encouraging new gender roles. Although they were successful in reducing the rate of population increase, the campaigns failed to address more pressing issues such as poverty, unemployment, and migration.