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IDFA - To Be a Miss

Young Venezuelan women hope that beauty contests will offer them an escape from poverty. For everyone else involved, it’s just big business.

The Venezuelan people’s first experience with democracy came about through a beauty contest. In this Latin American country, which was still a dictatorship in the 1950s, it was a novelty for a working-class beauty queen to beat a rival from the elite. Now, beauty contests are big business in Venezuela. To Be a Miss showcases the coaches, agencies, plastic surgeons and even a manufacturer of the hotly contested beauty queens’ crowns. But above all we see the young women trying to escape the poverty of everyday life by competing in beauty contests.

In a small room shared by two sisters and a cousin, a Barbie doll hangs like a trophy on the wall. This is the sisters’ goal: to achieve the Barbie look. They go to the gym twice a day, eat far too little and take part in countless contents. The success of Venezuelan women in international beauty contests encourages them to hope for a better future. There are also critical voices from the university – not surprising when we see the preliminary rounds of a contest being held in a plastic surgery practice.

(idfa)