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Venezuela's Beauty Factory
Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
08 Jan 2015

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.

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Beauty factory002
Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
04 Sep 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
28 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
26 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Distrito Capital
By Patrick
25 Aug 2012

Plastic surgery ads are part of Caracas's urban landscape.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
25 Aug 2012

A girl practices for the "Miss Girl Venezuela" contest while her teacher supervises her in the back.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
25 Aug 2012

Women suffer severe pain in the injected area, reaching a point where they can't sit for more than 30 minutes.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
24 Aug 2012

Besides catwalk and photo shoot lessons, students have to learn other skills such as make up, diction, oratory or protocol.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
24 Aug 2012

Make up class underway for aspiring beauty queens.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
24 Aug 2012

Venezuelan women are very sophisticated consumers of cosmetics and fashion, spending more on cosmetics that any other Latin American country.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
23 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
20 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
19 Aug 2012

Backstage during a modeling event in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
19 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
19 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
19 Aug 2012

A modeling event is underway in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
18 Aug 2012

Backstage during a modeling event in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
18 Aug 2012

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.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
18 Aug 2012

These events attract not only family and friends but also talent scouts and promoters.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
17 Aug 2012

Modeling events in Venezuela are key in the formation of these young girls.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
16 Aug 2012

Weight and diet become an important element. Teenagers are encouraged to follow specific diets to achieve the physical standard require by Miss Venezuela and other beauty pageants. Wendy Guillaon, a nutritionist, assess a student.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
14 Aug 2012

"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."

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
14 Aug 2012

Girls practice modeling movements at the "Girls Models" academy in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
13 Aug 2012

35,000 to 40,000 breast enlargement procedures are performed each year.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
13 Aug 2012

Miss Venezuela candidates from the Giselle Reyes academy. Each year this academy prepares the aspirants to the crown, who will become a reference for younger generations.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
10 Aug 2012

Miss Venezuela is considered one of the main events of the year. Families gather around the TV to watch a 5 hour show where the new queen is elected. Promoters try to innovate a contest that some considered old fashioned and have transformed this year's contest into a reality show.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
09 Aug 2012

A damaged breast prosthesis from the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). This company generated controversy back in 2011 when their prosthesis were said to break easily and to be a health hazard.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
08 Aug 2012

Rodrigo Garcia, director of "Girls Model Venezuela", monitors a new student while a girl practices basic modeling movements in the back.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
07 Aug 2012

Girls in Venezuela start modeling at an early age. In an industry where being 25 is considered being old, girls start practising since they are 3. Every year promoters such as Osmel Souza, director of Miss Venezuela, scout teenagers looking for new talent.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
07 Aug 2012

Attention to detail is crucial in both the teacher and student. Edgar David teaches girls from 5 years of age up to 19 years how to walk with heeled shoes and learn basic modeling movements and photo-shoot skills, ensuring they perform their routines flawlessly.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
07 Aug 2012

Modelling academies are one of the main extracurricular activities in Venezuela, with more than 60 centres just in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
04 Aug 2012

A breast enlargement procedure in Venezuela. Advertising, and the fact that they'™re known as the country that manufactures Miss Universes, create social pressure among women to seek physical perfection.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
30 Jul 2012

Girls practice at the academy "Model Girls" in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
29 Jul 2012

A board shows different positions learned during a modeling class.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
29 Jul 2012

Girls practice at the "Girls Models" academy in Caracas.

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Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
27 Jul 2012

Girls have to pass a personal interview before enrolling in any modeling academy.