I recently watched a documentary on beauty pageants in Venezuela. It portrayed the poverty, famine, people and families queuing in line for hours to get food and riots, crime on the streets yet girls who come from extremely poor backgrounds can afford to get cosmetic surgery not for them but to compete in the beauty pageant. The documentary expressed that in Venezuela it is every young girl’s dream to compete in the national beauty contest and become “Miss Venezuela”.
The interviewer Billie from the UK interviewed stunning and beautiful girls from all over the country, from different backgrounds, rich and poor, uneducated and educated asking them if they have scarified anything to take part in this contest. One girl said she gave up university for the contest. The women who took part were Barbies, looked like the ideal what men dreamed women should look like. Perfect in every way. Gomez the man (or god) behind the beauty contest was extremely well respected in the country by families, police ect. One point in the documentary Billie is interviewing the police and they said Gomez has power over people, once his beauty competition are on there are no crime on the streets as everyone is watching the contest on TV. This straight away reminded me of the “Idol/Otaku culture” in Japan. Late night anime cosplay bars full of men cheering their favourite girl on, the girl is stunning ideal to the otaku male. I also recall the episode of “Wake Up Girls” of Miyu singing in the cosplay bar and the men are cheering for her to keep going and go further.
The documentary focused on one girl who came from a poor background and when she was asked what was her motivation in entering the contest she replied saying, her brother was killed in the streets not too long ago and the family is living in poor living conditions. If she wins the contest her career would be set for life and she will be able to finance her family a better home. This girl was so determined to win the contest she got a breast and nose job, saving for many years. She wore tape to her tongue daily to keep her weight down so she would only eat liquid foods.
Gomez an interesting character in his 60s would comment on the girls partaking in the contest on what they should “fix” about themselves eg nose jobs, breasts should be bigger, more fat needs to be lost. He wouldn't allow Billie to interview him until she was dolled up with hair curled and makeup on which I found this very interesting. He had no time for plain girls and most be flattered. Gomez mentions to Billie the reasons why he decided to to run these beauty pageants was because when he was growing up women were ugly to his eyes and he was determined to make them beautiful. An ugly woman infuriates him, women should not be “ugly”. This fascinates me as I can not help think of cosplay, a world men spend time browsing and looking at beautiful women dressed or being their favourite 2d character. Nothing annoys them more to see an “unattractive” girl cosplaying as their ideal 2d beauty.
I don't 100% agree with this documentary as women were portrayed as a commodity (been sent to fix themselves and keep fixing to look perfect). What annoyed me was when Billie was interviewing one of the coaches for the speaking round, he said the women should never voice their opinion and must always remain neutral. They have to play “dumb”, people don't want an intelligent, beautiful and successful woman. I do believe intelligence plays a big role in a woman’s beauty. Beautiful and smart women are what Anime thought me with role model characters such as; Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon a genius and spends a lot of her time studying and reading, researching. When I was a teenager watching Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury was and still is my favourite of the Sailor Scouts. Her looks beautiful and tall yet she was smart and did well in school. She was one of my motivators to do well in school. Now I want to cosplay as her.x
Rei Ayanami another favourite character of mine, an Evangelion pilot, kind and really smart and does her job well. These are the girls I want to become. I do dream of my work being internationally recognised and I want my intelligence to play a big role in my presence. I want people to see more to me then my cosplays, not just the girl standing in the photo in costume.
The determination, passion and strive these girls had in setting a clear vision and goal in winning this nationwide beauty pageant, the whole of Venezuela would be watching to see who will become “Miss Venezuela” was enticing. The contest with the gigantic stage, thousands of people watching the performance, the beautiful women parading the stage in their diamond dresses, sparkled up to the 90s, yet the country is in famine, crime and poverty, people still find hope and fantasy in such a thing. We may look at this and question what is the point when money for the country can be better spent on saving starving people yet this contest gives the girls’ hope, gives normal people escapism and fantasy and plays a major role of the culture and economy. These girls were transformed. As someone who cosplays and watches my health quite seriously I found this documentary fascinating from a cosplay perspective. I could not help thinking that for me to look like the ideal 2d beauty I need to lose weight and I have joined the gym to get the perfect body for Rei Ayanami’s plugsuit.
I believe there are many females and males who have gone to extremes lengths to look perfect in their cosplays for the excited viewer. I asked myself “What if there was a Gomez in the “Cosplay” world correcting girls and guys what way they should look like and “fix” to become the ideal 2d dream? Would millions of cosplayers hope and wish their photo would catch the attention of this person who will make allow them to break into a “career”? Does Cosplay transforms young hopeless girls to queens becoming extremely popular and gives them hope, fantasy and dreams? I do hope my cosplays give people fantasy and escapism my main objective in being a cosplayer. Is this real?
Anyway after watching this documentary I just felt strong about it and wanted to share my thoughts.