Mannequins Reflect Plastic Surgery’s Impact On Beauty Standards

Women aspire to giant breasts and tiny waists in the consumerist culture of Venezuela.

A local mannequin manufacturer has taken advantage of the trend for Venezuelan women to resort to plastic surgery as a way to boost his sales significantly. Eliezer Álvarez noticed that even though women were happy to go under the knife to change how they looked, the mannequins in clothing stores did not reflect this new body type. He has since created the kind of woman he thought the public wanted — one with a huge and a firm behind, a tiny waist and long legs.

These extreme artificial women are now the norm not only in tiny shops selling cheap clothes to working-class women, but also in the display windows of fancy boutiques in multilevel shopping malls. In a country where plastic surgery is so fashionable that a woman with implants is often casually referred to as “an operated woman,” it’s no surprise that the mannequins have reinforced the idea that artificial beauty is acceptable.

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“You see a woman like this and you say, ‘Wow, I want to look like her,’ ” said Reina Parada, who works in the factory workshop that creates these models. The NY Times also reported that even though she can’t afford it, she would like to get implant surgery someday. “It gives you better self-esteem,” was her reasoning.

While plastic surgery might clash with the government’s socialist ideology, a culture of easy money and consumerism combined with a penchant for quick fixes and instant gratification has meant that modifications live on. “Venezuela is known for its oil, and it’s known for its beauty,” said Lauren Gulbas, a feminist scholar and anthropologist at Dartmouth College, who has studied attitudes toward plastic surgery in Venezuela. “That ties into why it’s perceived as so important to Venezuelans.”

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Some women even choose to spend their money on plastic surgery when they struggle just to get by. It’s clear that plastic surgery is part of the culture, but how far can it really go? Does the country have to become a country of clones before people realize that their standard of beauty may not have as much to offer as they first thought?

Source: The NY Times

Images: Sydney Morning Herald

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