“Oh God, I won a rhinestone tiara for one whole year! All the torture has been worth it!”
Well, here’s a foregone conclusion that I wish the world could forego: Once again, a totally un-Venezuelan-looking Miss Venezuela has been crowned a very un-universal Miss Universe. And some brave “independent” Australian kookaburra has seen fit to lay an egg on the Internets about it. (Insert obligatory reference to communism and tyranny anywhere you like, mate. And don’t forget to totally ignore the distinctions between communism and socialism.)
Meanwhile, for the real lowdown on this ultra-hyped pseudo-event, we turn to Aporrea, which has the scoop on where the real tyranny lies–and no, it ain’t communism or even socialism. Here goes my rough translation of selections from the article, with commentaries in between:
The Miss Universe pageant, of US origin, is put on by the Miss Universe organization, whose current owner is multimillionaire Donald Trump, who also owns large hotel chains and casinos throughout the world. Private companies in 80 countries buy franchises, and hold local pageants to choose their candidates. In the case of Venezuela, the franchise belongs to the Miss Venezuela organization, property of the Cisneros family.
Ah, the mighty Cisneros family. I wondered when they’d rear their cute little heads. And oh, the dirt that exists on them. Suffice to say, they loathe their “commie” president, because he dares to make them pay taxes. And they don’t care a damn about ordinary Venezuelans, either, except insofar as they can squeeze money out of them.
Now that you know who owns Miss Venezuela, and you have an inkling of just how capitalistic they are, let’s have a look at the raw materials this business uses to manufacture Miss Universes:
The [Miss Universe] pageant…demands that its participants be between 18 and 27 years of age, and that they never have been married or pregnant. Also, they must have a US passport and visa. Those most likely to win are closest to the “perfect measurements” of 36-24-36, and must be at least 5 feet 7 inches tall.
Even though the contest takes place in a different country every year, the western cultural elements always prevail and are telecast live in 170 countries (although only 80 countries participate in the pageant itself.)
Racism? Cultural imperialism? Oh, perish the thought. Everybody knows that there are “universal” standards of feminine beauty, dahling. Miss Venezuela’s doodling Svengali, Osmel Sousa, says so. And what he says, goes. Who can argue with success? This is the man behind that disproportionate number of Venezuelan Miss Universes! His ideal woman exists only on his sketchpad and in his decidedly unhandsome head, but that doesn’t stop him from strapping dozens of pretty girls to the procrustean bed every year. His creations are not so much a monument to humanity or excellence in genetics as they are to the crafts of the cosmetic dentist, dermatologist, plastic surgeon, personal trainer, and diet guru.
And by the time he gets through with them, that monumental comparison is no mere figure of speech; they resemble not women, but vivaciously animated dress mannequins. Many are selected, and meticulously tinkered with, but only one is chosen. And she has never been black, or indigenous–let alone of mixed race, as are more than half of all Venezuelans. That would be too individualistic, and not “universal” enough, to win that tinsel crown.
And this process repeats itself in eighty countries, each undoubtedly with its own Osmel Sousa, though most of those are not as gifted as that ex-Cuban cartoonist with an acumen for “universal” beauty–or the ruthlessness required to hammer a female body into that mold.
Of course, that ruthlessness in the pursuit of the “universal” has its critics. Which leads me back to Aporrea’s analysis:
Opinions against this type of competition are diverse. An article by Argentine analyst Marcelo Colussi emphasizes: “In a world largely ruled by the idea of lucre, of economic gain at the cost of whatever other thing, beauty too has become more of a consumer article, a kind of merchandise.”
Colussi opines that “while every 7 seconds, somewhere in the world somebody dies of hunger, and while the manufacture of weapons continues to be the principal form of human commerce, there is a lively tendency to consume “beauty products”, such as plastic surgery, slimming diets, silicone implants and cosmetics (those last bringing sales of $14 billion dollars annually.) Does all this give us more beauty? The superficial, the banal, the purely cosmetic, occupy an ever-growing place in the hedonistic civilization capitalism imposes. The form supercedes the content.”
So much style; so little substance. Even a man from beauty-conscious, Europeanized Argentina can see it well enough to decry it.
The pageant mavens, of course, would say it’s a lie that their pre-fabricated goddesses are nothing more than well-schooled dress dummies, and that their accomplishments are just as great, if not more so, than their looks. Which begs the rather obvious questions: Why is it called a beauty pageant, then? And where are the brainy pageants, the worldwide broadcasts of excellence in pure, universal, stone-hard intellect? And if such even existed, who would watch them? A bunch of geeks with pocket protectors and duct-taped eyeglasses don’t exactly make for riveting viewing, unless they are cast in a comedic light. The world of superficial, “universal” beauty loves to laugh at brains.
Even so, it takes brains–of a perverse sort–to “universalize” a beauty the way the latest Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, has been done…
“The nose needed a slight retouching to prevent it from bending downward when she smiled.”
“The bust was operated on because Dayana was very flat.”
“Before the Miss Universe competition she had to tan much more to emphasize the color of her eyes.”
Also, she required false eyelashes, because “her natural ones were very short.”
You must admit it takes some heavy thinking to come up with all that.
Too bad all this brainpower was not her own, and that it was squandered on creating an “ideal” woman who only lasts one year at the pinnacle. If only the cosmetic surgeons who “did” Dayana Mendoza could apply their talents and training to saving the lives of poor folks, instead of catering to an “ideal” that only the richest can even hope to attain, and which remains “aspirational” despite its utter impossibility.
But then again, plastic surgery is so much more lucrative than tending the indigent, which is why so many poorer Venezuelans lived in a medical vacuum for decades before Chavecito finally rolled into town. No self-respecting Venezuelan doctor in private practice would deign to touch them for fear of catching The Ugly or, worse, The Bankrupt. Many still won’t.
Well, maybe some future Venezuelan Miss Universe will set a true example by promptly turning her back on the coronet once she’s won it. She might declare herself a feminist and a socialist, shun modelling and a lucrative marriage among the oligarchy, go to medical school in Cuba, and dedicate her life to healing the impoverished sick through Mission Barrio Adentro. Thus she might demonstrate to the world what true beauty is, and what a gulf exists between it and the “universal” ideal touted by pageant dictators and other capitalists.
We can always dream, can’t we, girls?