Eliezer Álvarez, owner of a small mannequin factory in Valencia, Venezuela, has created the kind of woman he believes the public desires—one with, as the New York Times reports, “a bulging bosom and cantilevered buttocks, a wasp waist and long legs, a fiberglass fantasy, Venezuelan style.”

With the introduction of his new mannequins, Álvarez witnessed an incredible surge in sales, and now, these horribly inaccurate portrayals of the female body are the standard across most Venezuelan stores. The mannequins may be seen on display everywhere from the doorways of small shops whose clientele is mostly working class to the windows of fancy boutiques.

Álvarez’s portrayal of the female body has been welcomed with such popularity due to Venezuela’s great focus on beauty—specifically, manufactured beauty. As the New York Times reports, “Cosmetic procedures are so fashionable here that a woman with implants is often casually referred to as ‘an operated woman.’ Women freely talk about their surgeries, and mannequin makers jokingly refer to the creations as being ‘operated’ as well.”

Many Venezuelan women aspire to be like this exaggerated vision of the female form, and so, seeing a grossly disproportionate mannequin only furthers their inspiration for surgery. As Reina Parada, one of Álvarez’s factory workers explains, “You see a woman like this and you say, ‘Wow, I want to look like her,’ It gives you better self-esteem.”

The obsession with beauty and cosmetic surgery reached a high in the late 70s and early 80s, when Venezuelan beauty queens were crowned Miss Universe three times. Osmel Sousa, the longtime head of the Miss Venezuela pageant, takes credit for the heightened desire for cosmetic surgery, stating, “When there is a defect, I correct it […] If it can be easily fixed with surgery, then why not do it? [...] I say that inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.” 

Of course, not all Venezuelan women adhere to the ridiculous beauty conventions of their country. Several women’s groups protested the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant last month, speaking out against the extreme pressures and expectations enforced by surrounding society.

Still, the mannequin business is booming in Venezuela, only contributing to the country’s obscene expectations of female beauty and suggesting to not just women, but men too, that artificial beauty is the ultimate and desirable standard.

Read the full New York Times article here.

Thanks to the New York Times

Images via The New York Times

Tagged in: venezula, unrealistic beauty standards, sexism, plastic surgery, mannequins, fashion, cosmetic surgery, body positivity, body image   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.




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