Venezuelan women are beautiful

Would you buy a national culture from this man?

Would you buy a national culture from this man?

I stopped watching the Miss Venezuela pageant when I was about 14 years old. Year after year, I would sit with my Nana and my sisters in a misogynistic ritual. We would mercilessly pick apart every inch of the candidates: that one is too fat, that one has a horrid nose, look at those awful teeth, that one is just plain ugly.

It was like a sorority initiation gone terribly wrong.

But in the end, I knew that no matter how “ugly” this or that candidate was, all of those 22 girls had something that I didn’t: they had a chance to be “successful.”

At 14, with my 159 centimeters, chubby body, short curly hair, and slightly boyish appearance, I was never going be elected queen of anything. I was never going to be Miss Venezuela.

This realization was a hurtful experience, because in my short life, I had always heard (and even experienced myself) that being beautiful was all that truly mattered.

Sure, you had to finish school, and you most certainly had go to college, and well, a graduate degree wouldn’t hurt. But all these were conditioned on the fact that you had, HAD, H-A-D, to be beautiful. That was the sine qua non that defined a successful Venezuelan woman.

The pressure to conform to an impossible standard of beauty was, and is, incredible. Why? Because if you do not nip, tuck, fill and blow-dry your way towards “beauty,” then you will be the exception to the rule, you will be “un-beautiful,” you will break the mantra that we all repeat about Venezuelan women being the most beautiful in the world, and that in itself is not a big deal, except, not being beautiful means that no matter what you do, you are a failure.

To make matters worse, our image of “beauty” stands somewhere in between the delusions of Osmel Sousa and the porn-actress body of Diosa Canales.

The artist Mr. Toledano has an interesting photo series on how society is currently defining a new kind of beauty. In almost all societies of the world, we dissect different parts of the female body, exaggerate them, sprinkle them with a dash of fetishism, and sew them right back on the frame. With every Miss Venezuela, Telenovela, Chica El Propio, and Playboy a new brick is laid on the foundation of the new Venezuelan standard of beauty.

Most often than not, women buckle under the pressure. If you don’t have enough money for the boob job, you get the lypo. Not enough for lypo? Maybe botox or dermal fillers. Not enough for that either? Well, you can always straighten your hair and opt for the Brazilian keratin treatment. You will do one or all of these, because, in our country, beauty is the most valuable currency.

I don’t blame the girls for perpetuating these damaging sterotypes. They work hard, they suffer through operations, and endure a lot of pain (for Christ’s sake, some use supralingual mesh to eat less). These girls are being completely rational – they see an opportunity, and they are working hard to achieve it. Can you imagine parading your bikini body in front of Osmel and his entourage? I have a hard time getting my pareo off to get in the beach.

And let’s be honest, What other opportunities do these young girl have?  I’m going to be a devil’s advocate for a moment and say that at least Osmel is getting some girls out of the slums. He’s like a perverted and slightly bitchy fairy godmother. Yes, the girls take all the humiliation, all the pain, all the starvation. Why? Because he gives them a chance, a chance out of the barrios, a chance for success.

It’s easy to see these young women and snark. It’s easy to feel superior, to blame them for the objectification of women in our society. The problem is that they are not the guilty ones. They are the visible victims.

Let’s fight this culture. Let’s stop saying “Venezuelan women are beautiful,” and start giving our girls other options.

75 thoughts on “Venezuelan women are beautiful

  1. A couple of nights ago, BBC 3 broadcasted a documentary (Extreme Beauty Queens – South America) showing how Venezuelans, even though suffering from food shortages (queuing for food and fights related included!), high inflation and a number of social problems were obsessed with beauty in general and physical appearance in particular. The docu presented this obsession as a way of not face reality for the masses and a fast track for poor girls to “leave the slum”
    It is truly shocking that our youngster’s aspirational roles are malandros, baseball players and beauty queens. No wonder the country is falling apart.


  2. There is the issue of strong Machismo in Venezuela.
    There is the issue of conservatism and double morals.
    There is the issue of job opportunities for both females and males and the dynamics that creates – a weird vicious circle. This comes from before Chávez but has become worse.
    I think it was Omar Sharif who said in Egypt that he couldn’t do anything as an engineer, so he became an actor. Our democracy is as wrecked as Egypt’s. A part of Egypt’s population can go into conservative forms of religion. We get into becoming DJs for prison parties and girls with boobs who want to become the gangster’s only one – or the boy who is going to get some oil-related negoción and the girl who will get his “love”.

    I was reading different sources about the amount and types of books read by the average Spaniard. I don’t think we get to a 1/10 of that number. And that also has a little bit to do with this.
    Of course, Malians/Haitians will read less than Venezuelans (well, perhaps)…but they don’t have the same social pressures.


    • I believe that the whole beauty affair is just slighty overrated, discrimination on these grounds do exist, but I think that a non-perfect woman can land on a good job and get a better than decent living, I think that the problem lies more on woman’s psyche than in men’s machism, I think that right now in this country attitude is still more important than beauty. with that said, I believe that a person of any gender should try their best toward achieving a healthy appearance, propper weight, propper clothing, etc, I don’t think that you have to go as far as cosmetic surgery to do it, or insert dangerous stuff in your body to do it.


  3. I would like to know how many women living in poverty in Venezuela are presented with this opportunity for a better life through “beauty” – and how that is sustainable in itself, for them individually and for the whole collectively.

    I don’t understand why is that even an argument.


    • Well, I guess there are some “beauties from el barrio”, but I feel that their appearance in the show is more to “cash in” in our soap opera culture where beauty will take you out of the slums because you’ll marry a billionaire and so on. If only science competitions would get a tiny amount of this publicity we would see more kids going for a book instead of a blow dryer and clownish make up.


      • Miguel Pena, the Valencia civic parish with almost half a million inhabitants, does not have a single public bookshop. A village of 10000 people in Extremadura or Andalusia has a public library with nearly as many books as the only real public library in the whole of Valencia (there are a couple of “official libraries but they are not really for the general public)


      • Beauty in Venezuela may not turn you into a Miss but it will be a catalyst for success. More so than in other societies.


    • Well some girls of humble origin, like Dayana Mendoza and a recent Miss Mundo, have been really succesful within Miss Venezuela, and then internationally, so it works for some girls.

      Then you have some girls who don’t achieve much within Miss Venezuela, but make enough contacts to pursue a career as actresses, news presenters, TV hosts, hot babes in comedy shows, Lottery presenters, models, or VIP escorts.

      Then you have girls outside Miss Venezuela who also get to pursue a career despite not having Miss Venezuela contacts, in the same fields I listed above.

      Then you have the girls who marry someone with money, or settle to be their mistress.

      Then you have the outlaw variant, of girls who pursue relationships with drug dealers, corrupt officials, pranes, etc. Thugs are highly regarded by girls in the barrios (–honor–de-parirle-a-un-malandro.aspx), and they prefer pretty girls.

      Then you have the requirement of “buena presencia” for girls to land jobs like restaurant hostess, waitress, receptionist, sales girl, assistant to high executives, or any other job where beauty is not directly related to the job specification.


          • “I’m going to be a devil’s advocate for a moment and say that at least Osmel is getting some girls out of the slums.(…) He gives them a chance, a chance out of the barrios, a chance for success.”

            There is no need to make that concession, in my opinion. Miss Venezuela can hardly be regarded as a way out of poverty for women. That notion underlines how ill-conceived the role of women in Venezuelan society is. It defeats the whole purpose of the post. We may agree with the article overall, but not here.


            • It threw me off a little bit, too.

              I guess the author was trying to ponder whether OS caused Venezuelans to value beauty as a requirement to succeed, or if OS is just a successful middleman/curator within a system that already values (or valued before him) beauty as a requirement to succeed. In that case, OS is an expression of our values, not the value maker.

              I, however, think that the anorexic standard of beauty (think Paris Hilton) and the surgically enhanced breasts standard (think Pamela Anderson) ARE caused by the media, and aren’t a a case of the media reflecting people’s (a priori) taste.

              It’s just a matter of looking at the kind of girls who were promoted as sex symbols, and the publicity that women and girls are exposed to.

              The other day, there was a girl watching a reality TV show called “Millionaire Matchmaker”, and I was aghast. I even felt like I was watching wealthy men purchasing girlfriends, since they go to a “matchmaker” and tell her something like I want you to set me up with a red-headed, 20 something girl, that works a a teacher, nurse or other job like that; while other guy presented a different shopping list. Then the “matchmaker” interviewed girls, to pre-screen them as worthy of being considered by the wealthy men. The ones she approved, were asked if they were willing to dye their hair red, because one guy liked red-heads… and the girls said yes! Men, I was offended at that show.


  4. This is a powerful post. I totally agree. Even having horrible people truly damaging our country, our economy and even our future, I have to say that Osmel Sousa is the person that I find most disgusting of all! His perverse idea of beauty has been deeply accepted by not only our women but also by our men!

    It is sad and as you mentioned, is deeply ingrained since we are kids, that to be “successful” you have to be “beautiful”, bien buenota, una mami pues.

    Thanks for sharing this and start to portray this problem as one of the more damaging problems for women in Venezuela. We men need to understand this, and stop buying the crap of Osmel and his team of “hacedoras de misses”. They are just twisting our ideals of beauty and hurting the self-steem of all…

    I hope that once we succeed in ovecoming more immediate problems (potitical, economical, and a big ETC) we as a society can start putting women in her due position: that of mothers, hard workers, lovers, friends and so on; and not just a HOT person that is just “usable” when she is young enough.


  5. Sadly, many of the contestants end up as expensive call girls, in a world where being an “ex-miss” may allow them to charge a higher fee.


  6. Beauty pageants are a celebration of female beauty , nothing wrong with that , whats wrong is the way these pageants are organized so that they exploit the hold which natural beauty has on all of us , and transforms it into a monstrous cult requiring its phocal objects ( the girls) to debase and torture themselves in order to glamorize the spectacle these pageants offer thereby distorting the values and tastes of a whole culture. Why in Venezuela the effect of beauty pageants is so traumatic of ordinary human values is something which no one has really attempted to answer. The answer I fear will tell us much of what drives our national psyche !!


      • Sure Gaston, and Chopin is all about a guy banging a piano. and love all about the reproductive instinct . Our sense of beauty may have biological roots but it woud be reductionistic to think that thats all there is to it, the roots arent the only thing that defines a tree.


    • There is something wrong with that. We can’t deny that physical beauty does influence people everywhere and all the time but these events portray women like cattle. Physical beauty is put as worth a public competition when physical beauty is hardly due to the girls’ efforts on anything but to her genes or the surgeon.

      The more equal a society is – all other things being equal -, the less relevant these events are and the least likely a woman is going to feel of parading as if she were a horse to be sold.

      A place where people appreciate more brains and creativity these kinds of events are much less relevant.


  7. I don’t know but the last times I’ve walked around the streets and malls in Caracas it looks like women are more and more pushing towards this perception of “beauty”. However, it is not pretty at all, it actually looks like porn stars gone wrong…

    In addition, more and more I notice that people, both male and female, are taking less and less care of their bodies from a health point of view. Note that this doesn’t mean that you need to look like a pornstar, its just plain exercise and staying fit. To me, it seemes like Venezuela will have a massive obesity problem in the next 5-10 years. It is also probably related to the eating habits of the majority (arepas, street food, etc) for all three meals.


    • Venezuela won’t have a massive obesity problem in th e next 5-10 years. Venezuela has been in a massive obesity problem for years, boy.

      That map was from 2008.


  8. There are so many aspects to this situation that are worthy to discuss, not only in terms of individual women but also in terms of the consequences to society.Society is made up of the quality of its individuals.
    There are links between excessive concern with appearance, body image and many psychiatric disorders, such as eating disorders, social phobia and sexual functioning.

    I am so sorry Audrey that you had that experience as a girl, it must have been hard.I was lucky.My mother o me up to feel I could do what ever I wanted to and my ‘society’ supported that. I could also mention that the only girls in my high school who were thinking about beauty pageants were far from being the prettier girls, and people looked down on these contests as something inferior.Just like with American Idol.Here in my town we have far better singers than those who sign up for it,so much so that a good singer would never be caught dead on that show.I would be the end of their career

    .Women have to raise their standards, not to artificial beauty but to real beauty and accomplishment which shows up as kindness, intelligence, dedication, spiritual depth. education etc…and most of all the INNER qualities.That’s is what will give her strength and self confidence.

    Studies show that 7 to 12 percent of plastic surgery patients have some form of BDD. , or Body dysmorphic disorder which is a chronic mental illness, wherein the afflicted individual is concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical appearance.

    Think Anorexia, Bulimia, Narcissism, Depression , Anxiety disorders…are all part of it.

    This problem is a very serious one, that play into the hands of the worst elements of society.


    • Yes Bruni , the most important is to deepen our values always…and on the lighter side don’t you find it ridiculous that people cannot appreciate a variety in the aesthetic sense? What could possibly be unattractive about being short? There seems to be a a lack of creativity and open mindedness in this attitude as well.

      I remember a daughter of a friend of mine in Caracas who became a ” Miss” -and she was one of the least pretty of the bunch of friends of my daughter, but she was tall…hehe….that’s all that mattered, because her face was totally changed by plastic surgery.

      Women have to create their own values and stick to them….the ability to stand alone makes us powerful and happy, then it will easy to find people we can love and who love us, AND IT WILL BE REAL.

      I was reminded of this old song, for all short women :


        • That is true Audrey which is why each mother, each teacher, each religious counselor should be teaching girls to disregard the media and create her own set of values.In order to evolve a society has to go from the strong individual first and then later form bonds with others through a personal sense of power, not the other way around.Unfortunately many people try to realize themselves through the collective which is really retrograde.First we have to be people in our own rights before we become active, responsible and productive individuals within a society.

          As society evolves, it moves more and more towards the possibility that individuals can evolve…in a society that is not evolving, “tribal” consciousness is more important.

          In the end it will be up to each individual woman to struggle for her own identity.


    • What would have happen with 15 more cm? Who knows, maybe I would have fallen deep into the Miss Venezuela looks. Great post, couldn’t agree more on how a superficial society can be duped by all sorts of scam artists.


  9. Could not the same be said for any natural talent that is of social acclaim, like having a voice and becoming a singer? And let’s face it, it’s not easy what they do; they just have a genetic advantage.

    It’s not that making a thing about beauty is bad. It’s that there is little else making a thing in Venezuela.


    • No extorres,

      they cannot.

      Fake outer appearances that require starving oneself and great suffering do not constitute a talent.They constitute mental and emotional impairment.

      Objectifying oneself for fame or money is like prostitution.Singing is TALENT.


      • firepigette, Learning to walk a catwalk, learning to speak and behave in a manner to win those miscalled beauty pageants is not easy. Singing, analogously, requires training a naturally good voice. If you don’t think singers go through unspeakable hardships, including starving and suffering, you need to look again. If you don’t think sports players don’t need to sacrifice, as well, look again. Almost any thing or social acclaim makes people want to be part of that thing. I stand by the analogy.

        I also stand by my main point: What is sad is that in Venezuela pageants are such a big thing that they eclipse almost every other thing.


  10. Osmel Sousa is revolting. His record at building and sustaining an entire national industry is enviable.

    Evidently, the world has bought into his vision, as evidenced by the multiple winners of international beauty competitions.

    Imagine if Osmel’s focus, attention to detail, and management were replicated by the State to provide quality education and critical thinking skills to all levels of the population, hell, even to provide quantifiable (not phoney) results from their current, half-assed deliverables of Misiones. Or, imagine that the State could replicate Osmel’s record to the reduction of crime (fat chance with “management” having signed up as gatekeeper of the drug pipeline), or reducing red tape so as to promote entrepreneurship that provided sustainable and reasonable jobs, while contributing to widespread national productivity…. y pare Ud de contar …


      • In addition to being a sadist, he is also a racist. He once commented to a foreign reporter something along the lines that “La negritud venezolana es fea”, when questioned as to why there were so few women of colour on Miss Venezuela.
        In any case, Quico, thanks for sharing the gawker article. Osmel looks awful in the video – he has not aged gracefully and looks like a poster child for bad cosmetic surgery.


  11. I am so glad that someone is writting about gender issues. Venezuelans have the tendency to think when we talk about women rights, LGBT rights, etc. it is not a priority to the nation because we have “so much problems”. But the reality is that this issues are just another branch of the masacote cultural that Venezuela is. Having a society with equal rights for all its citizens guarantees prosperity. Thanks for raising awareness and I am looking forward for more posts like this.


  12. The roots of the problem lie in that Venezuelan culture has been raised with a “rentista” mentality. Venezuelans do not value productive and creative work, because it is not rewarded here. The economic system is stacked against those who choose to produce goods or provide services. The rewards go to those who learn how to manipulate the system. It is a “zero-sum” mentality in which there is a fixed amount of pie for everyone to share, and the trick is to get the biggest slice. When we break that cycle, and productive work is once again rewarded, then young girls will see more avenues to success than to be Miss Venezuela.


    • I reckon things started to go wrong in early August 1498 off Cubagua island.
      That thing about the pearls and the broken pieces of colourful Valencia dishes…it was just not sustainable.


    • “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed”

      Ayn Rand


    • If I were Chiguire, I would write about Miss Yamomani a real Venezuelan girl who is not allowed to enter because not only is she short and plump, but also has toothpicks in her face and prefers to go nakie! Still, when it comes to Venezuelan women, it’s hard to find better than Patricia Velaquez. All natural ingredience!


      • Patricia is half Wayuu, big-big difference. Yanomami are cuter, although they can be so demanding you end up telling them “Yanomami, yanomami”. Nothing beats the Kariña girls. They are very kariñosas and as Carib people, when they fancy you, they really at you as if they wanted to devour you.


        • LOL! This is all about the western view of beauty. I see it here on Spanish TV. The magic boob jobs on a morena flaca body. Some shows like Nueva Dia on Telemundo have real real women with latina female bodies and they know how to use them. Im not sure most Latino men buy into all this. Perhaps, I should go to the pandaria down street and ask?


    • I got a couple of choices, I’d tell a daughter of mine:

      Venezuelan women are smart
      Venezuelan women are hard working


  13. Roy Orbison said it all …

    Pretty woman, walking down the street
    Pretty woman, the kind I like to meet
    Pretty woman
    I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
    No one could look as good as you

    Pretty woman, won’t you pardon me
    Pretty woman, I couldn’t help see
    Pretty woman
    That you look lovely as can be
    Are you lonely just like me

    Pretty woman, stop a while
    Pretty woman, talk a while
    Pretty woman, gave your smile to me
    Pretty woman, yeah yeah yeah
    Pretty woman, look my way
    Pretty woman, say you’ll stay with me
    ‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right
    Come with me baby, be mine tonight


  14. Wow! I never thought about it until Audrey pointed it out! Osmel Sousa promotes a damaging philosophy of life that thousands follow, because of the very slight chance they might score big time and get away from the slums, or from their empoverished existence. It’s a one in a million chance, but it’s better than nothing. Girls and their mothers follow the Osmel Sousa doctrine because you know, it might just happen to them. Sousa sells the illusion of his doctrine and people fill in the blanks. It’s like supporting a political regime because you just might get a washing machine. That’s when it clicked: Osmel Sousa is Chávez!


  15. What about that chart from The Economist? I was somewhat baffled to lean that French and South Korean women are more likely to get fake breasts than Venezuelans. Anecdotal evidence would seem to point towards a different direction: I have yet to meet a European woman with obnoxiously fake breasts / nose / etc.

    Or perhaps the Venezualen data which feeds the statistics from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons are about as trustworthy as other official figures coming from la tierra de gracia?


  16. The attainment of social recognition has an universal appeal for all humans, Beauty is for women one way to obtain high grade social recognition, (not only from men but from other women) , thus the popularity of any procedure or means whereby women can enhance their beauty . Its usually easier for a women to obtain social recognition for her beauty than for her intellectual or academic achievements or gifts . Maybe its part of the culture , of the history of that culture.. Beauty pageants arent just about money but about the kind of recognition which the media gives the ‘throphy’ beauty of beauty queens . If a woman wantss to shine as a smart person she hast to compete not just with other like talented women but with many smart men . High intellectual attainment doesnt give men or women all that much social recognition, not nearly the same as is given to a beauty queen . Maybe its easier for men to achieve high social recognition by excelling in more muscular exertions such as sports, thus the huge popularity in Venezuela of sports figures, where you certainly are likely to find more men than women. This might explain the popularity in Venezuela of beauty queens ( celebrating female beauty) and good baseball players (celebrated as gifted sportsmen) . Both beauty queens and baseball stars generally recieve more recognition in Venezuela that gifted intellectuals .Where men and women can shine with equal brighness is in the making of music , musical talent has no sex . Talented interpreters of music get the same kind of accolades regardless of whether they are men or women. In short female beauty and sportive prowess is more celebrated in venezuela than high intellectual performance , be it from a man or from a woman , only highly educated people appreciate hight intellectual performance and the latter in Venezuela are decidedly a tiny minority . In contrast any one can appreciate female beauty , male baseball talent and Musical talent ( of either sex).


  17. Hi how are you ,no need age or widowes or daeveris woman ,i love you every one who good I am nice mind person and friendly person,I want to marry.i tell more by e mail ,but you must happy from me,God keep you very happy ,my email is thanks take care


    • Hi how are you ,no need age or widowes or daeveris woman ,i love you every one who good I am nice mind person and friendly person,I want to marry.i tell more by e mail ,but you must happy from me,God keep you very happy ,my email is thanks take care


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