El lado no tan lindo de la noche…

From comments, as translated by FT,

I’m a woman, born and raised in Venezuela. My problem with Miss Venezuela isn’t that some girls decide to go hungry, undertake the risks implied by unnecessary surgery and compete to do something that in many cases doesn’t require any talent beyond a certain grace in showing off bodies that will inevitably deteriorate with time. My problem isn’t with any of that. If that’s what they want to do, good on them.

My problem is with the real harm it does to society in general. Let me explain.

Do you think these girls throw themselves into this because:

  1. after analyzing a broad spectrum of possibilities in front of them they decided to fight for their lifelong dream of competing in Miss Venezuela?, or
  2. they have few alternatives, they received the wrong kinds of messages, and finally they decided this was the only path for them?

What girls (in general, not just the ones attractive and “lucky” enough to take part in this kind of pageant) see is that their mothers and aunts make huge sacrifices to get a boob job, not to sit down with them at the end of the day to look over their homework. That it doesn’t much matter if they’re doing ok in school, but it’s crucial to be up-to-date in terms of fashion. That the message from their parents isn’t to develop themselves intellectually or professionally so they have a secure future, but rather to land a guy with money so he can “guarantee” their wellbeing. That banks hand out loans for boob jobs, but not to go to college.

In this world, their choice looks more like 2. than like 1., don’t you think?

That a chunk of 50% of the population is obsessed with its looks carries a high opportunity cost. And even if we’re not all obsessed, that’s the message that Venezuelan women constantly get, explicitly or implicitly, from other women as well as from men.

You have to look hot, wear tight clothes and big tall heels, you have to go to the hair salon at least once a week (literally!), spend a fortune on make-up and accessories, and boobs? You haven’t had your boobs done yet!? Everybody gets their boobs done!

That’s the message, and it’s not an enriching one. In the last analysis, the cost of this ritual is to have an extremely vain population, and especially an empty one. A shell. The damage may not be obvious, but it’s there.

That’s my problem with the Miss Venezuela ritual…

87 thoughts on “El lado no tan lindo de la noche…

  1. I’ll be the self-lacerating liberal here and admit Miranda’s little rant made me ashamed to even think I can participate in a debate about this. We guys have no idea what all this is like…


    • I disagree. As the parents of little Venezuelan girls, we have every right to participate in this debate.


      • I agree. For there’s a whole iceberg going on here. And what lies beneath the surface can fast turn into a not-so-uncommon extreme: violence towards women, the result of one or more issues: a lack of a strong, diversified economy, leading to few options; poor parenting; poor guidance/teaching in school; and a low self-esteem.


  2. That trend of getting fake boobs in Venezuela is a disgrace. I’ve seen friends getting implants and they didn’t need them!

    Something similar goes on with having a good cellular phone, but that’s not as bad as the boob thing.


  3. I seem to remember Mercedes Pulido de Briceño quoting a study conducted a number of years ago, in which the number 1 answer given by girls 6 to 12 years old to the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? was non other than: Miss Venezuela.

    So more to your analysis, people have been thinking in those terms for a while now. But going even deeper, we have to ask ourselves, what happens to the girls who, having been given the opportunity to participate, fail to take top spots or to raise enough attention onto themselves that they are forgotten by public opinion.

    I’ve heard horrible stories of these poor souls being driven into prostitution and marketed precisely as “Miss Yaracuy 20XX”. This happens because of the fact that they don’t make any other effort to prepare for life other than to be beautiful and knowing how to answer key questions they’ll be asked during the pageant.

    So, what does it say about venezuelan society that the highest thing a girl can aspire to is being Miss Venezuela, and going on to become one of the byproducts of the pageant, be it an actress, some rich guy’s wife or TV-Show host.

    For one, our priorities are most definitely not on straight. Secondly, that effort is still not seen as a valid way to socio-economic-personal growth. We’re all still thinking what is the best way to mulch of someone else, be it the government, a rich husband (Sugar daddy much?), a union or any other form of parasitic behavior. Whats more, it says a lot about Venezuela being a country where we don’t live of our taxes, rather some other god given gift, oil. So, yes, we’re all just used to this. Live off of some natural fact, beauty, oil, land where anything will grow.

    Food for thought….


    • That is about the time I remember a little boy answering that question with a “Guardia Nacional”, and the following why with a “para pedir papeles y eso”.


  4. Mis felicitaciones, Miranda. Le diste al clavo.

    Las pocas veces que he regresado a Caracas, en los últimos 25 años, algunas de esas veces, representando a un banco canadiense o para desarrollar negocios, he palpado una diferencia bien marcada en la población femenina, como si la gran mayoría estuvieran preparándose para ser ‘descubiertas’.

    Peeero, seamos sinceras. Osmel ha tenido un grandísimo éxito, puesto que en Venezuela (más que en Colombia, digamos), el desarrollo intelectual de la mujer, en general, y través de la historia moderna, no ha tenido gran prioridad, al menos de que ese desarrollo intelectual se basara en la caza de un futuro maridito con chequera.


    • and girls’ schools, where these ideas get reinforced by peer majority (if not remnants of pedagogical Catholic dogma in catholic schools), and the economy with limited opportunities, and, and, and …


      • Ya had to drag the Catholics into this, didn’t you? I’ll have you know beauty contests are very looked down upon in my very Catholic household.


        • Then my female first cousins, in Caracas, were very abnormal, when their priorities in the 1950-70s were que si el manicur, que si cada pelo en su puesto, que lo hacía fulana, que hay que leer un libro? — pa qué? etc.

          I remember, at the age of 12, thinking that, unlike them, I’d never be able to get my hair in perfect alignment. Instead, I chose to further my education, not sure of the end destination. (With the exception of two cousins-by-marriage, I was the first female in my family to go to university.)

          I mentioned Catholicism (in girls schools), where, years ago and overall, intellectual development was not a priority.

          Things have changed. But there are still vast pockets of gesticulating manicures.


  5. I remember, back in the early 1990s, that Venezuela Competitiva produced some studies regarding the, well, competitiveness of the Soap-Opera and the Bauty Pageant industries in Venezuela. As a teenager, back then, I did not think much of that, only that it was a sad thing to be touting around; much like Colombia promoting drug traffickers as agile entrepeneurs.

    Now, seeing how this aesthetic knows no political boundary (alas, as a product of the Cisneros machine, Miss Venezuela alligns itself to the nouveau-riche, even if they are socialist revolutionaries). As in the former Eastern Bloc countries, beauty seems like a unique pathway to riches for some -how many?- young women (as much as Baseball does for boys in venezuela or the Dominican republic, or as Cricket helps in the West Indies). No other profession holds such promise, but no other profession has a seemier windfall for its elite managers: a never ending crop of “beauties”, trophy wives, broadcasters and, call girls? Exotic dancers? Those women have no leverage against the men who control the industry. And that includes our beloved Emrpesas Polar, which happily promotes -albeit in a bit more wholesome way- the “chicas” stereotype.

    Is this a national tradition (like the quaint “madrinas” or “reinas” of local holidays and clubs) or a sinister twist in an erstwhile national quirk? Does it affect our culture or our economy? Must we have a libertarian blind-eye to whatever society does?



      Just think how it affects the family pocket book when one spends money on luxury rather than necessity, or education.Multiply that one!

      Then multiply the amount of broken homes that result with the inevitable passage of time and loss of beauty.

      Then multiply the emphasis on the outer versus the inner, and its consequences on deeper understanding and psychological maturity.

      Then multiply the amount of Cancer and health problems due to plastic procedures : Breast Cancer, deaths or injuries from liposuction, skin Cancer etc,

      Then multiply the psychological affects of poor relationships and low self esteem

      and on and on and on………….

      Unfortunately the image Venezuela gives off is one of lacking in substance.


  6. Many of my students every year miss University days (either paid by their families or paid by the State-taxpayers) to have their noses and breasts done.


    • Yeap, lots of insurance fraud with fake deviated septum and so on. The other thing that amazes is the crudeness of the results, most Venezuelan women get porn star boobs, I have seen several women in positions of power with porn star cleavages. Is not only getting the boobs, but that people can tell just by looking at them.


      • Back in 1991 I took an English course at the British Council, I remember the teacher being shocked at the fact that whilst in England having plastic surgery was ‘taboo’ (people denied having it done) in Caracas the girls would attend class and wear their post-op plasters on their nose with pride. On a similar topic, I recently went to Caracas and was surprised at the amount of 40+ year old people with braces (I had braces as a kid, a pain in the neck, on a cost/benefit basis I would not do it after 30 unless something major was wrong). It seems to me that braces are also now a status symbol of sorts.


  7. Important theme , very much imbedded in every aspect of the culture including the phenomena of Caudillismo.

    The main reason women are obsessed with appearances is to catch a powerful man to protect her and give her “prestige”. If more women refused to kowtow to this poisonous habit,they would not fall prey to the obnoxious expectancies of many Venezuelan men.

    For a truly happy marriage women do not need “machos” who do not appreciate their inner beings.They need real men who love them for more spiritual reasons – Men who can be counted on to be loving fathers and stable, faithful partners.

    It is up to women to develop the back bone to stand up to this cultural indignity, and many will be surprised that men will respect them more.That doesn’t mean becoming like a man, but rather allowing themselves to be truly feminine, rather than just a plastic phony.

    True justice in Venezuela needs to be applied to allow for a healthier climate for women and their families – Justice that protects them from the abusive power that Venezuelan society gives men.

    Poor self esteem is at the bottom of it all.


  8. I remember a friend who came to visit once and was gob smacked by the amount of gorgeous woman with not so good looking men (that’s being kind, mostly sharing their looks with George Costanza)!


  9. Can’t the same two choices often be said of Jocks? Rock stars? Drug Dealers?

    We can’t expect to make the whole world a temple; there will always be human beings outside the temple, going for base attraction.

    If education and civility our the goals to which we wish our societies to aim, the first step is to accept our starting point: we’re base animals, first, educated and civil ones, second, and only by much investment.


    • Extorres,

      Striving for improvement – increased consciousness and a better life, is what makes us human.

      It is silly to expect the world to be a temple but if we make a temple of our own beings we


      • I said nothing to the contrary. The temple can be the goal, but one must be realistic about there always being those who stay outside, often by choice. Take it further, and you’ll find you must accept the existence of many different temples. So, again, education and civility come from investing heavily on our most basic starting point: human beings as animals.


        • Extorres,

          Well, People always have a choice, and the choices Venezuela has made has gotten it where it is today.A machista society with unfair laws that do not protect women, and a Caudillo who rules.


          • firepigette, I agree. It’s awful. But it’s like pornography. I think it is an awful choice, but I will defend the right to it.

            Let me really twist this topic a different way. Those women in the Miss competitions do much, much more good for the GDP than college graduates that stay home bringing up kids. Think of the number of jobs that are associated to the production, not only of the event, but of all the related products and services that sell because of the event, as opposed to stay at home moms, whose endless hours dedicated to providing the best home settings they can don’t cause a blip on the economic radar.

            If you don’t believe me, ask Marilyn Waring, or read her book, If Women Counted. The sad truth is that the Miss Venezuela women count much more. If you really want the women that stay home and care for the children to count, you have to find a way to make them part of the GDP calculation economy. You know my solution to that, but I’m still open to others’ ideas.

            As things stand, the lack of education that is being transferred to the new generations is not going to improve by attacking the symptom of the Miss Competitions; it will improve if we attack the disease of having homemakers not counted.


  10. I think this is a widespread problem of superficiality. The miss Venenzuela televised is just an example, but Caracas society is quite shallow and empty. They give everything for new boobs or the iphone that is more fashionable, the car that is more fashionable. New boobs and new Hummer are at the same level in the value system of the average Venezuelan. Moreover, it is obvious to me that the problem is not aesthetic, in the Greek sense, but to show the money in your pocket, to show that you can do what others do or buy what others can buy, as simple
    as that.


    • I had a friend in Venezuela that always use the frase “Por la maleta se conoce el pasajero” and I hate that phrase all my life. I am glad that this topic is discuss here. I am in my 50’s and left Venezuela over 20 years ago. I grew up in the “Venezuela saudita” and always was a little of an outcast since I was one of the few among my friends that decided to get a Bachelor instead of going to work in a bank. Anytime that I go to Venezuela I see that the shallowness and the importance that Venezuelans give to physical looks, fancy phones and brand names is the same that when I grow up or more.In my times, boob jobs where no popular, but the importance of looks was there.


  11. I hate how sometimes posters here love to generalize and isolate themselves from the Venezuelan´s Society issues, judging it from afar in disgust from their VERY high horse, it´s pathetic.

    So you saw a girl in el Cristo Rey with a bandage on her nose, or you saw dozens of boob jobs in Centro San Ignacio, or perhaps even a 20 year old from Catia with fake braces (which is one of the most bizarre trends EVER).

    Some of the things posted are true, but are very generalized; and for most part I feel many of you are missing some of the point behind Venezuelan women in general and why they take care of themselves so much. A few of you might not realize, most Venezuelan women cannot afford surgeries, iPhones, etc. But no matter how little money they have, they are always trying to look their best, they may live in a rancho with no running water, but they always leave their house looking and smelling good, why you may ask? Not because they want to “levantarse al ejfe ricachon” but because (as corny as it sounds), their body is their temple, they are always clean, and want to look good, because that´s who they are, they invest in themselves, in their bodies, partly because it´s one of the few things they own, and partly because (in most cases) they can´t save money (really, who has a savings account in Vzla??), so they might as well spend a dime more and buy the “better” revlon nail polish than the cheap Valmy brand one.

    I remember speaking to some friends that worked at large retail companies (ie: Unilever, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive) and they would all insist that the Venezuelan market was amongst the top not only in beauty products, but also in personal hygiene products, mostly indicating that Venezuelans were not only obsessed with beauty, but also with maintaining a very clean body.

    El/La venezolana puede ser muchas vaina, pero siempre esta limpio y siempre esta arreglado. I wish I could say the same for my Spanish hosts…


    • Cleanliness is good, and there is nothing wrong with trying to look good.I think most women everywhere do that.

      It is another ballgame entirely to have such a low self esteem that you cannot work with your natural body, feel obligated to waste money on becoming a plastic phony, and end up losing out later, when your good for nothing macho husband leaves you for a younger more beautiful model .

      This is the reality of Venezuela Sir.


      • “This is the reality of Venezuela Sir.”

        No it´s not.

        This is one of the most absurd and prejudiced posts I have ever read in my life… That may be the way you view Venezuela, or the way you view Venezuelan women through the lens of Miss Venezuela pageant, but it is not the reality of Venezuelan women, not at all.

        Basically in your mind:
        Venezuelan women get boob jobs to attract a rich partner.
        Rich partner is a good for nothing d-bag.
        Good for nothing partner leaves fake-booby-McMamita for one with bigger fake titties.
        And then Boob jobbed girl looks for another rich-good-for-nothing-Gordito or becomes a prostitute…

        So your brain is plugged to Venevision or something? -What a near-sighted view of what Venezuelan people are.


        • Agree. Many may see the easy way out with a rich husband. But seeing half of the girls land a job on TV – soap operas, news, even lousy morning shows-, seems much better than a 9 to 5 (more like 8 to 7) monday to friday with a neurotic -probably a woman- job for most of them. The more intelligent ones see role models in the ones that have succeded in different lines of work, the not so bright, well, they would not stand out in college either, so they´re still better off by having been Miss ¿? Guarico.


        • prejudice NO!

          Experience….40 years worth.

          It is shocking to see the bad treatment Venezuelan women receive from a multitude of disrespectful husbands, and laws that do not protect their rights.

          Anyone who refuses to see that has become part of the problem, and this problem is at the root, of Caudillismo and unstable environments.

          I guess you just want to maintain the status quo !

          But the day will come, when women will see the light and people like you will have to find a way to see when as equal, though different.


          • Wow, you the way you are putting it, and the way you adress me makes you look down right Chavista. For shame…

            And I am happily married, the only reason I left Venezuela and gave up a successful career was to chase my wife´s professional dream, so yeah, I´m a stay at-home-macho-man!!


    • Elf-eto (little Italian elf): 100% in agreement. Venezuelan women are one of the Country’s greatest resources, some unnatural or not. They are frequently attractive, in good physical shape, often sexy, amiable, and very open to conversation, as a rule, with little if any snobbishness. And, as Syd rightly says, the Venezuelan economy offers few decent employment opportunities, to neither women nor men. If one wants intellect/wit, why, one has “Caracas Chronicles”!


    • SO you do not see anything wrong to get a loan to get new boobs? Nobody is criticizing the clean aspect of Venezuelans. It is the obsession with looks. You may think it is a generalization,but it is not.


  12. I find Miranda’s comment spot on: This is not a simple, innocent vanity contest, but a soulless ritual that objectifies women and helps perpetuate views that are at the root of many of our worse social ills. Of course, try to say that in even the subtlest way in a family gathering or to your friends…

    I wonder if any reader can point us to any recent critiques of these beauty pageants in our social context, especially from a Feminist point of view (hopefully Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, a Venezuelan sociologist at UGA, reads this blog and chips in… her research has looked into interesting bits of machista culture and beauty obsession in telenovelas, bearing in mind that soap operas can also operate as venues for resistance and the development of alternative views): http://ics.sagepub.com/content/13/2/185.short


    • Very good commercial! Those really are Venezuelan women’s concerns. Not to say we don’t have other concerns, we also want other things. But we’re constantly being reminded we should look georgeous, marry a rich guy and have kids before 30.


      • I’m not a very good example of a Venezuelan woman as I didn’t really follow the expected pattern of choices. But I do remember the pressure was always there.


      • Most of the concerns are shared by women the world over. It’s just that ‘en latitudes norteñas’ no se trata de un pájaro loco con mensajes urgentes. Se trata más bien de un pajarito de vez en cuando, uno que no urge ‘hazte las lolas’ (porque tantas otras también lo están haciendo).


        • I spent a few days in Caracas two years ago. The pressure to strengthen my curly hair was unbelievable.

          There is a pressure for all other things as well: heels, long nails, perfect breast, looking fit, etc, but nothing compares to hair.

          People would comment and look at me like I am from another planet and there is a law against having curly hair and wearing it as it is.


          • Bruni, guess where S got all the pertinent advice about how to straighten her hair after chemo? You wouldn’t believe the amount of kerastases and keratinas she learned about.

            My bigger problem with this aspect of Venezuelan culture is that many women (not all) truly believe they need a guy to pay for their bills. Becoming financially independent is perceived as an impossible goal, in part because all those surgeries and beauty treatments are expensive.
            And yes, there’s a vanity contest going on 24/7 that is hard to grasp when you’ve lived there all your life. People show off their looks, the things they own and even their knowledge. Venezuelans are “experts” in all topics and interrupt others loudly to express their “knowledgable” point of view.


  13. I worked in minor league baseball last year. At that level a lot of the coaches are recently-retired players. One American coach told me the thing that stood out the most about his brief time in Venezuela for the “Serie del Caribe ” was the incredible amount of women with “fake boobs and braces.” I laughed for a solid 20 minutes!

    Is there another country in the world with as many GROWN MEN AND WOMEN (adults) sporting braces? I asked my dentist in Venezuela and admittedly we all could use “some” teeth-straightening…but come on! Is it because compared to other countries dental work is relatively inexpensive in Venezuela? Or do people have those 3-4mil laying around for teeth emergencies? Is there a “mini-micro credito” for dental work?

    I refuse to believe it’s only an aesthetic thing. They’re braces! Metal! All around your teeth…for months if not years!

    As you can tell I’m (borderline?) obsessed (shocked/embarrassed) with this braces deal. I think it would make a great research topic for some anthropologist.


  14. I knew a girl that was top of her class all the way through school, high school, and college. I learned one day that she had been in a Miss competition. When I asked her about that experience, she said that she was really ashamed about having participated in such an event. I asked her why and she said that she was embarrassed because it meant she was superficial and an airhead. I told her that what perhaps she was wrong about was her idea that all participants were superficial and airheads, because, as one of them, she was proof to the contrary.

    Another such example is Irene Sáez. One doesn’t have to think much of her to acknowledge that a negative role model she is not.

    I also met someone who was born and raised in South Bronx at a time when South Bronx lived up to a very scary reputation. He was bullied at school and on the subway rides, and decided he needed to look a little more intimidating, especially because he had a younger brother of 8 years beginning to go with him to school. He decided to start weightlifting. He got hold of some weights, but not knowing about how to go about it he decided to buy a book about weightlifting. He figured that a book by a weightlifting champion, would be good, so he bought a book written by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though he had bought the book for weightlifting instruction, what got to the heart of him was the introduction. In it, Arnold Schwarzenegger described that his method for bodybuilding was also his method for other aspects of life. The key, Arnold said, was writing a list of goals, then prioritizing them, then, every day, doing what needed to be done that day towards the first goal. Only then, should one do the same for the second goal, and so on. This person that I knew took it to heart and set his goals. When I met him he could bench press me with one arm. He went on to become a doctor, specializing in E.R.. Throughout his studies and even after becoming a doctor he faced economic and racial hardships. Nothing phased him, and he attributed to one thing, the intense focus on achieving his goals that Arnold, a several time winner of Mr. Universe, had inspired him to develop.

    Finally, I can suggest a light-sided defense of beauty pageants: Sandra Bullock’s Miss Congeniality. I, too, really want world peace.


    • Extorres,
      I disagree. Irene Saez is not a good role model. Quite the opposite. She left a career in engineering to get into the Miss Venezuela. She won the Miss Venezuela, she decided to study political studies instead of engineering. Thanks to her newly acquired fame and contacts she got into municipal politics and then national and regional politics and then, all of a sudden she left everything and went to Miami.

      Since then, we have not known anything about her, except once, I think, precisely in the context of a Miss Venezuela celebration.

      Saez had the brains, the charisma and the contacts to be a great figure for Venezuela. She could have been a good engineer. She could have been an effective politician: the voice, the figure to represent the opposition against Chavez…and she ended up being just a pretty face that won a beauty contest and retired home, like many others.

      Sorry Torres, but Irene Saez was not only not a good model, but she is partly responsible for what happened in Venezuela in the last 14 years. She didn’t occupied her place. She left Venezuela down.


      • But she did have one notable accomplishment: she was the lover of a notable married banker, who gave her a house in the CC (where her sister ostensibly lived), and a super large luxurious office in El Rosal, and she was with him skiing in Colorado when his bank went under for looting/mis-management, all while she was “Alcaldesa” of Chacao (The banker’s wife/her family were the real owners of the bank). So, I guess it DOES pay to be a “Miss”! (just trying to keep the ball rolling-LOL).


      • Bruni, Irene Sáez began losing credibility as a presidential candidate, back in 1998 (See “Campaign” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_presidential_election,_1998). I, too, had little faith in her ability to take larger reins than those of mayor of Chacao. And I became totally disillusioned about her prospects when she began seeking international alignments with Donald Trump. Aaaasco.

        I was reminded of Irene Sáez when I saw Trump promoting Mitt Romney.

        In my opinion, Trump may be the king of combovers, but he’s a political kiss of death.


      • Bruni, firstly, note that I did not say she was a good role model, just not a negative one. Secondly, I think that even assuming that you are right in that her choices were not the best, she did open doors in politics for all women. Thirdly, I don’t think an engineering career is any better than any other, per se. You’d have to tell me what rule of measure you are using. If we use total effect to GDP, she may have done more in a single year of politics as a candidate than she could have done her whole life as an average engineer. Besides, given your disapproval of her choices, what makes you think she would have been a better than average one? Fourthly, do you have any indication as to whether she is being a good homemaker? Would that be a respectable reason for leaving an engineering career? I think so. Fifthly, given the description of how badly society treats Venezuelan women and how heavily brainwashing rains down on them, why would you come down on her for having at least tried to break the very paradigms that perhaps may have brought her down in the end?

        Finally, on I.S., note that the very fact that you mention that she was an engineer and that she could have had a career as one proves that not all contestants of beauty pageants are as vacuous as some imply, here, which was my reason for bringing her up in my comment.

        Don’t get bogged down with personal details of an example. Look at the gist of the whole comment in which I mentioned her: that there is more content in superficial competitions than the credit they are generally given, for example, in the recent posts and comments on the matter on this blog.


        • Talk about getting bogged down with details, if not with defense mechanisms.

          When someone writes about Irene Sáez: “a negative role model she is not,” it is generally read as this: Sáez is a positive role model, and it is understood as this: Sáez is a good role model.

          Or are you now going to peel that onion?

          You mentioned 2 examples of women who have been through the beauty contest mill, plus one example of a young man who took Ahhrnold’s advice. Yes, that qualifies as expertise on the subject of beauty pageant contestants — long after the show …

          Evidently you are not aware of the earlier padrinos behind Sáez, nor presumably with the Peter Principle.

          If Sáez were truly more than just superficially capable, and if she did not have to rely so heavily on ‘padrinos’, she would have marshalled her supposed intellect, in spite of a loss at the early polls in 1998, and she would have shone a lot brighter than what has been the case.

          Otro ejemplo del bluff.

          P.S. Sáez did not sufficiently break a paradigm in politics. As well, there were a few capable female cabinet members, long before her arrival on the scene.


          • Syd, I’ll begin by pointing out that once again you are the one addressing me first.

            Aside from that, and ignoring how you try to make this about me instead of about the arguments I am trying to get across, are you implying then that *all* persons participating in pageants are vacuous and that there is are no positive effects resulting from their participation even after I pointed out that the first person was a top student, the second person was in engineering, the third person who became a medical doctor was inspired by a pageant (of sorts) competitor, one who was successful in business, movies, and politics, and finally a movie that points out the value in people, even the ones who are intellectually or knowledge challenged or merely “superficially capable”?

            As to “a negative role she is not”, I meant exactly that. You may want to ponder the distinction between “not guilty”, and “innocent”. Sáez may be just a drop of water in the hurricane that’s needed to change Venezuelan paradigms with respect to women, but chiding on pageants and their participants without respect for their choices is not helping any better. By the way, by bringing up Sáez, I am in no way diminishing the roles that other males and females have played before or after Sáez in taking down these paradigms.

            Having padrinos does not preclude the possibility of having one’s own capabilities as Sáez’s demonstrated on many occasions. Peter Principle is applied to explain how incompetent people reach and remain in their roles of incompetence; it is not used to explain people leaving those roles. Besides, Sáez’s lack of shining after she left the political arena does not diminish the brightness of her shine while she was in the political arena. The fact that you are disappointed with her lack of show after such prominence just demonstrates that she had accomplished enough to cause higher expectations.


          • ET: … once again you are the one addressing me first.
            syd: What’s your point? When you write, as you do, on an open forum, as this is, expect anyone to reply. Again, what’s your point?
            ET: … ignoring how you try to make this about me instead of about the arguments I am trying to get across…
            syd: clearly, no one can contest what you’re saying without being met with a barrage of convoluted defense mechanisms from you.
            ET: .. are you implying then that *all* persons participating in pageants are vacuous and that there is are no positive effects resulting from their participation…
            syd: No, I never implied that. I was simply contesting your open comments to Bruni, which seemed as convoluted as your cash transfer arguments, and not based on generally accepted logic.
            ET: .. even after I pointed out that the first person was a top student, the second person was in engineering, the third person who became a medical doctor was inspired by a pageant (of sorts) competitor, one who was successful in business, movies, and politics, and finally a movie that points out the value in people, even the ones who are intellectually or knowledge challenged or merely “superficially capable”?
            syd: Knowing, as you say you do, one former beauty pageant contestant, and a young man who was inspired by a weight lifter that went on to greater achievements, does NOT make you an authority on the deep inner lives of former beauty contestants, irrespective of the two politicians you’ve read about, and who were in former pageants. Get real.
            ET: a negative role she is not
            Bruni: Irene Saez is not a good role model.
            ET: I did not say she was a good role model, just not a negative one.
            syd: (refutes the argumentation)
            ET: As to “a negative role she is not”, I meant exactly that. You may want to ponder the distinction between “not guilty”, and “innocent”.
            syd: And your point is? Exactly? Or are you just looking to build straw arguments?
            ET: Having padrinos does not preclude the possibility of having one’s own capabilities as Sáez’s demonstrated on many occasions.
            syd: You don’t know enough about the background workings of Sáez’ political career to be generalizing, just to make an argument.
            ET: Peter Principle is applied to explain how incompetent people reach and remain in their roles of incompetence; it is not used to explain people leaving those roles.
            syd: Evidently, you’ve not read the Peter Principle. It does NOT apply to incompetent people reaching and remaining in their roles of incompetence. But rather, to most competent people who work in an organization, and who are promoted to a level beyond their competence. From that point on, those formerly competent individuals will start to display incompetence. Taking this principle beyond the corporate organization and applying it to Sáez’ political gamble, here’s what happened, in a nutshell: Sáez overreached her capabilities, when she threw her mayoral cap into the presidential arena. (She might have even overreached by going for governorship, but oh, no, the big stage beckoned.) As a result of her decision, she was not prepared for the big stage. Period. She lost the confidence of her backers. Period. She lost the confidence of voters. Period. She displayed poor strategy in the process. Period. She had little to offer in the larger arena. Period. En criollo: Demasiada camisa para Petra, mija. End of discussion. If you want to dream about what might have been for Sáez, go ahead. Just don’t try to justify those dreams down my and Bruni’s throats. Thanks in advance.


            • Syd, my point in reminding you that you are first in addressing me is that this has been most always the case, yet you’ve accused me in the past of being the one to start picking issue with you and using that falsehood to surmise that I have a psychological need to do so. Me curo en salud.

              Aside from that, I will again ignore your comments making reference to my person rather than the ones addressing the points being made, and I point that out because this as well is something of which you’ve accused me, when it is you who does it repeatedly.

              To which arguments about cash transfers do you refer as seeming convoluted? I cannot remember any discussion material or questions about the matter from you.

              As to contesting my open comment to Bruni, what I said, in a nutshell, was that not all contestants are vacuous, and that there are fruitful effects in society from these competitions. As to the former, I mentioned three contestants that are not vacuous, one was a girl I knew, the other two were Irene and Arnold (I also made reference to a movie with that as a theme). As to the latter, I mentioned the positive effect Arnold had had on a guy I knew, and the effect on GDP that these contestants had. What exactly, did you contest of these arguments? And in what way do these comments seem convoluted to you? And what part of them are not based on generally accepted logic?

              As to expertise, I have neither claimed it, nor is do I think it is required to comment on the matter of beauty pageants, but I would ask you, would not generally acceptable logic dictate that a single exception is enough to take down an absolute rule, as in finding a single black swan is enough to prove that not all swans are white? I used that very logic to prove with a more than one example that not all contestants are vacuous, Irene Sáez being one of the examples.

              As to your quoting Bruni, you left out the next statement: “Quite the opposite.” Does that mean Bruni meant that Irene was a good role model, or did Bruni mean that Irene was a terrible role model? So my reply to Bruni was a clarification of my position which: that I never said Irene was a good role model, just not a negative one. Bruni did not reply. This brings us to the not guilty, versus innocent argument. The point is that not negative role model does not mean, as you surmised, a positive role model, nor moreover a good one, the same way that generally accepted logic dictates that by declaring someone not guilty in a court of law the court in no way establishes innocence, just that guilt could be proven.

              As to Sáez’s padrinos, I don’t need to know her particular case to know that she demonstrated often enough her capabilities in addressing people and answering questions. Those capabilities are independent of padrino’s behind her in other areas, so using her as an example of a non vacuous contestant still stands.

              As to the Peter Principle, what I described does not contradict what you described. I called them incompetent people reaching and remaining in their roles of incompetence because by the time they reach their roles that are past their competence, they are incompetent at said role. In fact, until they reach a role of incompetence, the Peter Principle does not apply to them because up until they reach that role, they are competent. But that’s just quibbling with words; clearly we are talking about the same principle.

              Assuming that we agree on applying the Peter Principle to Sáez’s role in overreaching her capabilities, how does that counter her serving as an example of a contestant with at least *some* competence. If you say that her competence reached a cap at the Mayor level, I consider that a non negative role model, however incompetent she became past that role. The level of competence that she did demonstrate before overreaching is, by generally accepted logic, proof that this beauty pageant contestant was not vacuous. Thus, Irene Sáez is still a good example of non vacuous contestants.


  15. You don’t seem to know Venezuelan society has always been like this. Way before your lifetime. Of all Spanish America, common Venezuelans stood up in terms of taking good care of our external appearance whereas that interest used to be featured only in the criollo elite of other Spanish possessions. Not even pardos or canarians would dare go out with ragged clothing. Being able to afford alpargatas would put you above those “Pata en el Suelo”; hence the demeaning tone of the term.

    I say we have to embrace that side of ourselves resolutely and put it to better use. I think Venezuela could transcend beauty contests and come to be as important as New York, Paris or Milan in terms of the world beauty and fashion industries. And it’s also good for the economy.

    Regarding female beauty obsession and excess, you shouldn’t worry anymore. That kind of mindset directly comes from Osmel Sousa’s influence, so when he stops running things in the Miss Venezuela Organization —he’s 66 years old— rest assured there will be changes, for the best I hope. India, Puerto Rico and the USA play by different rules and have been as successful as us.


    • I suspect Osmel Sousa has copyrighted, trademarked and servicemarked every aspect of the show for future royalties (to his estate). Estamos fregados.


      • Being in a high position in a company doesn’t take away the fact you’re still an employee. The Miss Venezuela Organization is owned by Cisneros Group Inc. so I sincerely doubt Mr. Sousa has had any chance to legally have anything to his name.


    • I read you piece Bruni, and totally agree! Excellent.

      As a woman who always felt too appreciated by my Venezuelan husband for my looks, and felt the consequences of that ….I speak from experience.I would walk down the streets and men would disrespect me by yelling vulgar messages, even when I always made sure to dress very modestly.This adherence to the wrong values eventually became the cause of my divorce and my seeking out a man from a different culture( though he is also a Venezuelan citizen)

      It is bad for the ego to either feel left out because you are not beautiful, OR because you are attractive and people admire you too much you for that.

      Nothing is worse than feeling that you have a rich interior life to share with someone , and then they mostly focus on your looks.This happens to many women and we should never
      accept this.


      • This is bizarre. On multiple occasions, over the years, FP, you have reminded us of how attractive you are (to the opposite sex). And on reading these, I have wondered if CC provides you with some sort of psychological approval board.

        If one has a rich inner life, which you also try to remind us of about yourself, the last thing you focus on is how attractive you are to others. Weird.


  16. I think it is shocking that after all that women have lived through in Venezuela,after witnessing the horrendous lack of legal justice for women there, the machismo, the broken homes, and the Caudillismo, we still see so called ” educated men” on these boards who do not care about, or even see the damage their attitudes do to women,ALL WOMEN.

    I can assure you this attitude will keep Venezuela mired in retrograde politics for some time to come.


    • “…we still see so called ” educated men” on these boards who do not care about, or even see the damage their attitudes do to women,ALL WOMEN.”

      It’s an outrage. An outrage, I tell you. Here, try pincel No. 32 and use the magnifying mirror x5.

      And while you reflect on your wondrous beauty, know this: Neither Venezuela, nor Latin America has any monopoly on broken homes. (Where DO you come up with your far-flung generalizations?)


      • For her it´s not a generalization, she just believes she owns “the truth”…

        Here in Spain women may not get boob-jobs, but they shop every damn day in Zara and try to never repeat the same piece of garment. They all like to have iPhones and Ray-Bans, love perfume, and the brand of rain-boots they use to the brand of car they drive are as important to them as it is to many in Caracas… The only difference? -There is a larger middle class, people here consider it a normal thing, they don´t brag about it, it just is that way, that´s how it works, and that applies also to the male population, which takes care of themselves just as well as the ladies in Caracas. But then again, I also sin here of over-generalizing.

        Additionally I don´t know what decade FP is living in, but from my UCAB graduation class, to most of the women I know, they all have good professional positions based on their knowledge and merits and not their looks, however, they all LIKE to look good, Venezuelan women don´t like to be a “mamarracho”, and I see no problem with that.

        In regards to FPs previous quip about getting loans for boobies; thank your government, it´s called social policy, the first institution to offer said loans was the post-nationalization Banco de Venezuela. If the government would favor student loans I´d have no problem with the booby-prestamo, it´s a financial product which has a demand in the market. I just hope that this or the soon to come next government favor student loans and easier mortgages as public policy.


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