El lado no tan lindo de la noche...

From comments, as translated by FT,

I’m a woman, born and raised in Venezuela. My problem with Miss Venezuela isn’t that some girls decide to go hungry, undertake the risks implied by unnecessary surgery and compete to do something that in many cases doesn’t require any talent beyond a certain grace in showing off bodies that will inevitably deteriorate with time. My problem isn’t with any of that. If that’s what they want to do, good on them.

My problem is with the real harm it does to society in general. Let me explain.

Do you think these girls throw themselves into this because:

  1. after analyzing a broad spectrum of possibilities in front of them they decided to fight for their lifelong dream of competing in Miss Venezuela?, or
  2. they have few alternatives, they received the wrong kinds of messages, and finally they decided this was the only path for them?

What girls (in general, not just the ones attractive and “lucky” enough to take part in this kind of pageant) see is that their mothers and aunts make huge sacrifices to get a boob job, not to sit down with them at the end of the day to look over their homework. That it doesn’t much matter if they’re doing ok in school, but it’s crucial to be up-to-date in terms of fashion. That the message from their parents isn’t to develop themselves intellectually or professionally so they have a secure future, but rather to land a guy with money so he can “guarantee” their wellbeing. That banks hand out loans for boob jobs, but not to go to college.

In this world, their choice looks more like 2. than like 1., don’t you think?

That a chunk of 50% of the population is obsessed with its looks carries a high opportunity cost. And even if we’re not all obsessed, that’s the message that Venezuelan women constantly get, explicitly or implicitly, from other women as well as from men.

You have to look hot, wear tight clothes and big tall heels, you have to go to the hair salon at least once a week (literally!), spend a fortune on make-up and accessories, and boobs? You haven’t had your boobs done yet!? Everybody gets their boobs done!

That’s the message, and it’s not an enriching one. In the last analysis, the cost of this ritual is to have an extremely vain population, and especially an empty one. A shell. The damage may not be obvious, but it’s there.

That’s my problem with the Miss Venezuela ritual…