The consequences of Miss Universe

July 19, 2008

Venezuela has won Miss Universe again. Meanwhile, my friend in Bolivia wrote on her blog that day, "I don't know if anyone as big as me deserves to be alive".

In a right-wing newspaper here in Venezuela, there is a diagram of the winner of Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza. She is 176cm tall, and there are lines pointing to her bust, waist, and hips, with the corresponding measurements. We also get an analysis of her face, her lip shape, skin toning, nose length, eye location and hair style.

Rules of the competition demand that entrants be between 18 and 27, have never been married or pregnant and those who have the most chance of winning are those with "the perfect measurements" of a 90cm bust, 60cm waist, and 90cm hips, with a height of at least 170cm.

And so, in this consumer world where everything is measured and given a price and a value, beauty, too, is measured in centimetres, and a few rich white men dictate to the world who is ugly and who "deserves to live".

The owner of the Miss Universe contest is Donald Trump, owner of a worldwide network of hotels and casinos. The judges consisted of Donald Trump's son, a (male) Italian fashion designer, a Porta Rican actress, a (male) US stylist, the 2004 Miss Universe winner, and a (male) transformationist.

Venezuela is a stunning rainbow of black-skinned to a gradient of brown-skinned people, but it is no coincidence that Dayana Mendoza is blond, green eyed, and white.

In a world dominated by US culture — music, movies, clothes — the dominant idea of beauty is also racist.

Gabriel Oviedo Serrate, the Bolivian participant, said: "People who know something about Bolivia think that we are Indians of the west of the country, it's the image of La Paz that reflects this, these poor people and people of short stature and Indian people … I'm from the other side of the country, from the east side, that isn't cold, it's very hot. We are tall and we are white people and we know English, and this mistaken concept that Bolivia is only an Andean country is wrong."

The Russian candidate, Vera Krasova, in the final round of questions, said she doesn't believe there is discrimination against women these days.

Meanwhile, my friend continues, "It is horrible to think other people have to look at me, let alone no one could possibly love me."

[This article first appeared on . Beside the article a Google ad sells a weight loss program.]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.