Arepas, baseball, petrol, Chavez. But no description of Venezuela is complete without mentioning its best-known trait: beauty.
Long hair, toned legs, faces that reveal the powerful genetic mix of this South American country, busts and buttocks telling of a national genetic inheritance or else of a little money and brush of the scalpel; Venezuelan men don’t hesitate to hiss and whistle on a daily basis.
Six crowns from the Miss Universe pageant and five from Miss World is no surprise. In this Bolivarian country, beauty and the contests that reward it are serious business.
Sure. Beautiful women being rewarded in beauty pageants. But this isn’t about people. This is about a doll. The beauty standard in Venezuela is no longer 170 centimeters in height, a 90 centimeters bust, a 60 centimeter waist and 90 centimeter hips, but rather: 32 centimeters in height, a bust that’s only 4 centimeters around, a 2 centimeter waist and 4 centimeter hip: Barbie.
Yet very few of these plastic dolls with uniformly perfect faces and curves deep enough to astound the medical establishment will ever reach the standard of beauty required of Venezuela’s Barbie beauty queen, according to José Sánchez, the organizer of Miss Barbie Venezuela.
To win the crown, Barbie needs to get pimp. Doll owners are said to polish those tiny plastic faces with nylon threads, and to order custom-made body parts. The dolls are named after Venezuelan Beauty Queens: Yajaira, Lidymar, Andreína. They represent different states and have jobs including Dr. Barbie, Barbie model and Barbie housewife as well as hobbies such as going for rides in pink Volkswagens, or taking the sun with Ken, who may soon would be able to participate in a Mr. Universe Ken Venezuela.
The dolls cross the runway with four different costumes built delicately by their owners, who spend thousands of bolivars on sequins and lace creations for their little princesses. A panel of three experts decides which Barbie deserves to wear the belt, the scepter and the crown of the Miss Barbie Venezuela.
Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters