Tags / Modelling
DRC contestants Soudi Fatou (left) and Thethe Ntumba talk backstage between acts.
Stella gets her make up done for the “native” part of the event, where music from all 5 countries is played.
One of the many wardrobe changes that take place during the event.
The view from backstage as participants in Miss Mama Kilo 2015 enter the stage.
The "native" performance is the last act contestants have to perform alone in front judges and a packed crowd.
Soudi Fatou dances during the native performance. This year's jury came from Mali, Ivory Coast and Benin.
Nelly Okombi, from Republic of Congo, won the 7th edition of Miss Mama Kilo. As the new Miss Mama Kilo, she gets a weekend trip to Paris offered by one of the sponsors. This is Congo's third crown in seven years, but all of the contestants received cash prizes regardless of the their result.
Preparations continue until the day of the event at the Olympic Palace Hotel.
The event starts at 19H00, however contestants arrive early in the morning to get their hair and make up done.
Two contestants help each other prepare their hair in the backstage area of Miss Mama Kilo 2015.
Make up artists work all night on the day of Miss Mama Kilo. The event has 6 wardrobe changes, and contestants' makeup has to match each style.
Stella waits with the other contestants in anticipation, just moments before going on stage.
All 18 contestants carry their countries' flags. Republic of Congo was the most represented with five contestants.
Nelly Okombi from Congo took home the title of Miss Mama Kilo 2015.
The last rehearsal takes place at the Olympic Palace Hotel the day before the ceremony.
Magalie Opangot from Republic of Congo (left) and Jenny Elongo from Central African Republic share a moment together during rehearsal. It´s the third time they participate side by side in Miss Mama Kilo.
Rosine surveys the runway during the last rehearsal at the Continental Palace Hotel. She directs contestants with a firm hand at all times.
Stella Amoussou, from Porto Novo, Benin, runs a little cosmetic shop in Brazzaville with her family.
Julie Mangono, a comedian from Kinshasa, and Stella are close. Miss Mama Kilo has a friendly atmosphere where contestants always help each other out.
This year´s edition drew contestants from five countries: Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Benin and the Central African Republic.
Stella Amoussou is from Porto Novo, Benin. She moved to Brazzaville 15 years ago. Rosine approached her in the street and asked her to be part of this year´s Miss Mama Kilo.
Contestants rehearse twice a week at Rosine´s restaurant in Brazzaville.
Rehearsals become an attraction in the neighbourhood.
There is a saying among Venezuelans: “Venezuela’s main exports are petrol and beautiful women.” Known primarily for its natural wonders, its ex-president Hugo Chavez and its crime rates, Venezuela is a country where beauty is taken to the next level. Miss Venezuela transcends any other national beauty contest and over the decades it has become a trademark for the country, transforming a TV show into a national pride seen by millions of people.
Families around the country gather in front of the screen to watch the show. In a place where people have found in satellite TV a way to avoid state-controlled media, this beauty pageants is the most seen show of the year with an audience’s share never below 60%. The day after the pageant, the new ‘queen’ is all over the newspapers, and the results creates a debate worthy of a presidential campaign. Venezuelans elect their queen, which symbolizes more than a woman. She becomes an icon, a symbol of beauty and nationhood.
For many women, modeling offers a chance to leave one of most dangerous countries in the world - where unemployment and a strict currency control make it difficult to look for opportunities abroad. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, 24.980 people were killed in 2014 – ex-Miss Venezuela Monica Spear was among those victims. With constant class tension and when and bloody confrontation is part of daily life, the election of a Venezuelan “goddess” is a rare source of common ground in the society.
"I've been modeling since I was 5," said Josbey Arcia. "I believe this industry pushes you to your limits. You need to have personality. Being a model is fantastic, being on a catwalk while people look at you, knowing that some girls hope to be you some day. It's incredible."
Venezuela holds the record for the most “Miss Universe” titles in the world (7) and is Guinness World Record holder for winning two years in a row (2008, 2009). Gabriela Isler, Miss Venezuela 2013 and current Miss Universe, will pass the crown next January 25th in Miami.
Migbelis Lynette, a 19-year-old from Cabimas will represent Venezuela in the most important beauty pageant of the year. However, Venezuelans do not choose the most natural girl. The country is a paradise for plastic surgery in terms of price and quality. 35,000 to 40,000 breast enlargements take place every year, and Miss Venezuela contestants are no exception.
Advertisements can be found everywhere, acting as a reminder that you can always look better. Women are aware of the influence of commercial media, but that does not diminish a perpetual competition of the prettiest. The definition of beauty gets lost between scalpel and silicone, and perfection is the ultimate goal.
These beauty queens have set a standard that many young girls hope to achieve one day. Modeling school becomes another extracurricular activity, just like ballet or theatre, making experience crucial to success in the business.
Five-year-old girls learn how to walk with heeled shoes and learn basic modeling movements and photo-shoot skills, so that when they reach fifteen they are ready for the big catwalks.
According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, 24.980 people were killed in 2014 in Venezuela. Ex Miss Venezuela Monica Spear was among those victims. Modeling offers an chance to leave one of most dangerous countries in the world where unemployment and a strict currency control make it difficult to look for opportunities abroad.
Modeling events are a key element in the preparation of these young girls. The empowerment of Miss Venezuela and the success that comes with it make girls pursue their dreams at an early age.
Girls practice for the "Miss Girl Venezuela" contest. Venezuela has hundreds of beauty contest that can take place anywhere: neighborhoods; schools; malls and even prisons.
Plastic surgery ads are part of Caracas's urban landscape.
A girl practices for the "Miss Girl Venezuela" contest while her teacher supervises her in the back.
Women suffer severe pain in the injected area, reaching a point where they can't sit for more than 30 minutes.
Besides catwalk and photo shoot lessons, students have to learn other skills such as make up, diction, oratory or protocol.
Make up class underway for aspiring beauty queens.
Venezuelan women are very sophisticated consumers of cosmetics and fashion, spending more on cosmetics that any other Latin American country.
Venezuela's endless pursuit of perfection has brought severe health issues such has side effects of biopolymers, a very popular injected substance aimed at increasing the volume of the gluteus that turned out to cause necrosis among other symptoms.
A runway show is about to begin in Caracas. For many women, modeling also offers a chance to leave one of most dangerous countries in the world - where unemployment and a strict currency control make it difficult to look for opportunities abroad.
Backstage during a modeling event in Caracas.
A modeling event is underway in Caracas.
These events give an opportunity for the girls to apply what they have learned and to feel what is like to be on a catwalk.
Backstage during a modeling event in Caracas. Modeling school becomes another extracurricular activity, just like ballet or theatre, making experience crucial to success in the business.
Backstage during a modeling event in Caracas.