Foreign Policy Blogs

Creating Miss Venezuela: “Sweat, blood and surgery”

It is the fall, and that means that once again it is Miss Venezuela season. The national pageant was held on September 24th, and the winner, Marelisa Gibson, will now serve as the country’s representative in the international competition. The contest is a big deal across Venezuela, with all eyes turned to televisions.

For the past two years a Venezuelan took the title at the international Miss Universe competition. During the contest’s 56-year history the country’s six titles are second only to the United States’ seven. The attention on looks is described within an article titled: “Sweat, blood and surgery: welcome to the Miss Venezuela villa”, within the UK’s Times.

The pressure for Venezuelan women to look beautiful is intense. Malls are often packed with shoppers (those unable to purchase at least checking out the latest fashion through the windows), and the country has one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world.

Mannequins have never been representative of women and typical body types. They may, however, be understood to depict what is idealized in a culture. In the United States they are often tall and slender – in Venezuela, the plastic models’ super-sized bikinis cover super-sized busts.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.