An 18 year old girl, Maya Nava who is a Miss Venezuela hopeful has told that she has sewn a plastic mesh onto her tongue to keep her from eating solid foods.
Having already spent $7K on a nose job and breast implants towards her quest, the young woman went on to tell BBC3 show Extreme Beauty Queens: Secrets of South America of the plastic strip: ‘It makes me lose weight faster,’
‘You eat the same [things] but liquefied.’
Like many young women like her, Maya is desperate to be crowned Miss Venezuela and their families will do virtually anything to make it happen. Winning the title often allows many of the girls who would normally be contained in a stratified society to advance.
‘My wish is to be recognized,’ reveals Maya Nava. ‘I want people to know that people from the slums can succeed.
‘It would guarantee me and my family a future. It would allow us to leave the barrio.’
Maya’s determination to succeed is unsurprising. She lives in the Santa Cruz barrio in Caracas where there is a murder every 40 minutes.
And with more Miss Worlds than any other country and a TV audience of 50 million for the final of the national competition, beauty pageants are big business in Venezuela.
Winning a Miss Venezuela pageant could lead to a starry showbiz career and a route out of poverty, and as a result, there’s no lengths that Venezuelan girls won’t go to to win the prize.
Overseen by the country’s ‘King of Beauty’, Osmel Sousa, 67, competitors spend the six months leading up to the final in a tough beauty boot camp where feelings aren’t spared, the cameras are always watching and surgery is routine.
The pageant house is overseen by Osmel Sousa who is always on hand to check the progress of the girls – and dispense an unlimited supply of cutting advice.
Competitors are thinned out at regular evictions as judged by Sousa. By paying attention to the way the women walk, hold themselves or how they even look, the seasoned Sousa has the knack to offer advice to iron out areas for improvement.
‘The two central teeth!’ he exclaims as one beauty walks towards him. Blushing, she replies: ‘They filed them down yesterday.’ ‘File them down more!’ is his response.
Yet not everyone approves of the extensive surgery the contestants undergo. The mother of one competitor, Lara, insists her daughter won’t have surgery because it ‘would not be a fair contest’.
Adding: ‘All this surgery… Is it a competition to see who is the best surgeon or who’s the prettiest girl?’
While Sousa, who has done more than any other to ensure Venezuela’s continuing success in international beauty pageants, might seem offensive, he insists that it’s really all about the transformation.
‘I am always working on that [what women can do],’ he insists. ‘When I was little, I had Attention Deficit Disorder. I couldn’t study, I’d just forget everything so I drew beautiful women constantly.
‘What I love is seeing positive transformations,‘ he continues. ‘Nature hasn’t been kind to some women.
‘If a girl needs a nose job, you get her one. It’s an industry so we strive for perfection. We can’t settle for mediocrity.’
Not every woman meets with his approval however, with feminist protesters among those in line for another dose of caustic Sousa wisdom.
‘Those organisations were created by ugly betties with no hope of a fix!’ he insists. ‘They’re all horrendous!
‘They [feminist protesters] are taking things out of context. We’re not training astronauts here – we launch women’s showbiz careers.’
And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder:
Feel very sorry for all those girls. Victims of a shallow objectifying media/ fashion industry to look perfect, thin and doll like at all and any cost.
Too bad they didn’t use that money to take classes or learn a useful skill. Surely Venezuela needs teachers, engineers and medical care givers?
I don’t understand . What’s the point if you have to fake it? If you have to run a beauty pageant then make it for natural beauties only, anyone paying to change what they have naturally should be banned !