Mannequins Give Shape to a Venezuelan Fantasy
Venezuela's Inflated Vision of Beauty: In Venezuela, women are confronted with a culture of increasingly enhanced physiques fueled by beauty pageants and plastic surgery.
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
VALENCIA, Venezuela — Frustrated with the modest sales at his small mannequin factory, Eliezer Álvarez made a simple observation: Venezuelan women were increasingly using plastic surgery to transform their bodies, yet the mannequins in clothing stores did not reflect these new, often extreme proportions.
So he went back to his workshop and created the kind of woman he thought the public wanted — one with a bulging bosom and cantilevered buttocks, a wasp waist and long legs, a fiberglass fantasy, Venezuelan style.
The shape was augmented, and so were sales. Now his mannequins, and others like them, have become the standard in stores across Venezuela, serving as an exaggerated, sometimes polarizing, vision of the female form that calls out from the doorways of tiny shops selling cheap clothes to working-class women and the display windows of fancy boutiques in multilevel shopping malls.
Mr. Álvarez’s art may have been meant to imitate life. But in a culture saturated with such images, life is returning the compliment.
“You see a woman like this and you say, ‘Wow, I want to look like her,’ ” said Reina Parada, as she sanded a mannequin torso in the workshop. Although she cannot afford it, she said, she would like to get implant surgery someday. “It gives you better self-esteem.”
The article doesn't get around to mentioning that the mannequins are white in facial features, which also isn't true of most Venezuelan women.
Osmel Sousa, the longtime head of the Miss Venezuela pageant, takes credit for the [plastic surgery] trend. He recommended a nose job for Venezuela’s first Miss Universe, which he says made her victory possible more than three decades ago.
“When there is a defect, I correct it,” Mr. Sousa said. “If it can be easily fixed with surgery, then why not do it?”
For Mr. Sousa, beauty really is skin deep: “I say that inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.”
Call me crazy, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that old Osmel isn't the straightest guy in the world.
If this Venezuelan beauty pageant gig ever peters out for Osmel, he should move to America, where he'd be welcomed in Washington and New York as a natural leader of the Immigration Reform movement. Who better to upbraid the white racists resisting the Path to Citizenship?