There is a saying among Venezuelans: “Venezuela’s main exports are petrol and beautiful women.” Mainly known because of its natural wonders, its ex-president Hugo Chavez and its crime rates, Venezuela is a country where beauty is taken to the next level. Miss Venezuela transcends any other national beauty contest and over the decades it has become a trademark for this country, transforming its TV show into a national pride seen by millions of people. Families gather in front of the screen to watch the most seen program of the year. In a country where people have found in satellite TV a way to avoid state-controlled media, this beauty pageants is the most seen show of the year with an audience´s share never below 60%. The next day the new queen is all over the newspapers and the result creates a debate worthy of a presidential campaign.
Venezuelans elect their queen, which symbolizes more than a woman. She becomes an icon, a symbol of beauty and nationhood. In a country where there is a breach among classes and blood is part of the daily life, this “goddess” is often one of the few common grounds this society can agree on. Venezuela holds the record for the most “Miss Universe” titles in the world (7) and is Guinness World Record holder for winning two years in a row (2008, 2009). Gabriela Isler, Miss Venezuela 2013 and current Miss Universe, will pass the crown next January 25th in Miami. Migbelis Lynette, a 19-year-old girl from Cabimas will represent Venezuela in the most important beauty pageant.
However Venezuelans do not choose the most natural girl. They are a paradise for plastic surgery in terms of price and quality. 35.000 to 40.000 breast enlargements take place every year and Miss Venezuela contestants are no exception. Advertisements can be found everywhere, acting as a reminder that you can always look better. Women are aware of the influence of commercial media but that does not diminish a perpetual competition of the prettiest. The definition of beauty gets lost between scalpel and silicone and perfection is the ultimate goal.
These beauty queens have set a standard that many young girls hope to achieve one day. Modeling school becomes another extracurricular activity just like ballet or theatre, making experience crucial to have success in this business. Five-year-old girls learn how to walk with heeled shoes; basic modeling movements and photo-shoot skills so that when they reach fifteen they are ready for the big catwalks. Plastic surgery ads are everywhere, reaching to younger audiences. Teenagers want to become women and sexualization becomes a powerful tool in the educational process that has made this country a reference in this business. This mix of silicone, beauty queens, teenagers, hard work and sexuality make Venezuela unique. A machine where the search for excellence transcends the mundane and sometimes becomes the raison d’être.