Beauty Queens without a Kingdom

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Venezuela is known all around the world for its beautiful women, that’s the main reason why Venezuela beauty pageants are so popular there. It’s no secret that women in this country are very concerned and into their looks. Non regarding their background, social class, or occupation: the already beautiful Venezuelan women strive to look absolutely stunning in their daily lives.

Year after year, in a live program which reaches one of the highest rating levels in national TV, Venezuela meticulously chooses the girls with greater potential. The Miss Venezuela Organization prepares the winners to be Venezuela’s representatives for all international beauty pageants.

+60 years of solid entertainment

The first edition of the Miss Venezuela pageant was in 1952. It took time to be accepted by our society, and to gain the popularity and respect it has today. This was due to key events that marked the history of the contest such as its debut in black and white TV in 1956, and continuous TV transmission year after year. Among the main personalities in the business, we have had pioneer producer and choreographer Joaquin Rivera, who was in charge of 32 “noches tan lindas” until his death in 2013. Also, since 1981, the tsar of the beauty Osmel Sousa is known around the world as the mastermind in this show business, for achieving more than 30 crowns at the top international beauty pageants. Miss Venezuela successes must not only be attributed to the Miss Venezuela organization or Osmel Sousa vision, but also to the exotic Venezuelan beauty, which is a consequence of the high rates of immigration in Venezuela since the 1950s that led to mixed raced beauties.

More than just a national beauty pageant

Regardless of their social class, Miss Venezuela title holders are viewed as role models for Venezuelan women. These young girls, are not only gorgeous, but also really ambitious. They usually make use of this opportunity to get into the entertaining business, earning international recognition, and building professional careers as actresses, models, TV reporters, and business women.

To be allowed to hold a sash, and representing a state, girls have to go through a rigorous and tough preparation process for over a year. Their daily agendas include social events, daily workouts with personal trainers, strict diet plans supervised by nutritionists, and courses on how to do their makeup and hair. Moreover, they need to learn all the choreographies, and the unforgettable famous catwalk workshops with the founder of the Beauty University, and former Miss Venezuela: Gisselle Reyes. Known as the creator of “tumbao Reyes”, Gisselle‘s pupils have accomplished the highest scores on the runway in Miss Universe history.

These young girls face the challenge of having the eyes of a whole country on them. And for the winners, the pressure only increases as the media gets more involved. Most girls are lucky: their participation goes as planned, and all of their hard work shows in the brief moments they are on the spotlight, but few of them will suffer the misfortune of making a mistake on national television and having that moment immortalized on Youtube. Venezuelans love making jokes about everything that is happening, and the Miss Venezuela is everyone’s favorite target to make fun of. People won’t always remember their names, but they will always laugh at the answers to questions asked during a pageant like: What is harder: to apologize or to ask for permission? – ¿qué es más difícil: pedir perdón o pedir permiso?-

Who needs toilet paper when we have beauty queens?

Venezuelans are struggling with shortages of everything, but women’s interest on staying beautiful persists. Basics like deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothbrush, and many others are scarce and government controls not only prices, but quantities each buyer is allowed to purchase. With a polarized country and more than ten years of extreme poverty, Venezuela’s economy keeps in the doldrums with the continued devaluation of the currency – bolivar “fuerte” – and the decline of oil prices.

Venezuela´s income depends approximately 95% on oil, and it loses $700 million in a year for every $1 decline in oil prices. In the last months, the prices have fallen from $100 to below $40 per barrel. No need to be an economist to understand that Venezuela is currently facing the hardest times of its economic history.

But, the show must go on…

On Sunday January 25th the 63rd Annual Miss Universe pageant will take place in Miami, USA. It is irrational that while Venezuela is going through its hardest economic period in history, in less than a week, everyone will forget about not finding harina pan in the supermarket, yet watch expectantly for Migbelis Castellanos to win our 8th crown.

The fact that every year people watch the “Most beautiful night”, and wish our representative for the best, shows how an entertaining business can grow to be part of the Venezuelan culture and traditions. The show generates a national self-esteem, and a perception of being the country with the most beautiful women. But the contest also suggests the idea that Venezuela has hard-working women who deliver extraordinary results.

This is me…

I know that at this moment, with uncountable problems and open issues, to talk about a beauty pageant might seem superficial. However, it’s important to show the relevance and history of beauty pageants, which are more than a competition, they are part of our culture. To me, this is a role model industry that never stops, and always delivers no matter what. It is a pleasure to read the news and find people in social media networks writing about the possibility of another #BackToBack. Nonetheless, our “ability” to leave behind all the problems we are facing for fifteen minutes of fame is frustrating. It seems impossible to expect another back to back this year. But without a doubt, our participant with an excess of charisma, and more followers than any other contestant, can give us an ephemeral happiness and pride. We are all, in one way or another, proud to have grown surrounded by beautiful women, who represent Venezuela in all worldwide beauty pageants.

Collaboration: Andrea Pereira & Ale Lossada

Illustration by Penella COMICS @penelacomics on Instagram

Beauty Queens without a Kingdom