Skip to main content

Little Miss Venezuela: A Nation’s Beauty Pageant Obsession Starts At Age Four

An up-close look at the youngest members of the beauty system — and mentality — that has produced more Miss Universe winners than anyone but the US.

Looking like Miss Venezuela takes years of practice (sergejf)

By Flávia Marreiro
FOLHA DE S. PAULO/Worldcrunch

CARACAS - “And how should one hold a wine glass?” asks Wendy Guillen, an etiquette instructor at the most famous Venezuelan school for young girls who one day want to become the new Miss Universe.

Sitting around a glass table, several students raise their hand at the same time. “You should hold it from below!”

Their ages range from five to 10 years old, but the school will also accept four year olds. Reviewing basic etiquette rules include how to sip cognac, the right place to put your purse and a strong recommendation to sit with the legs closed, as a proper little niña should do.

Etiquette classes are the boring part for the young girls, but things were different moments before when they exchanged turns strutting down the catwalk and posing in front of our cameras.

“My name is Victória and I’m five years old,” says a red-haired little girl wearing a dress, dividing her attention between the camera lenses and her mother, Vilma González, who tries to give her some instructions from across the room.

González, a 42-year-old company manager, took a break from her job to take Victoria on a Thursday afternoon to the University of Beauty, a large house in the wealthy Caracas neighborhood of Altamira.

“She would be the first red-haired Miss Venezuela,” her mom says confidently, explaining how her daughter is bound to win one of the more than 600 local beauty contests, a step before moving on to television, commercials, and even to politics.

Current Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez won election in 1998 by beating Irene Sáez, a governor and mayor of Caracas, who first gained prominence as one of Venezuela’s six national Miss Universe winners (only the US, with seven, has won the crown more times).

Vilma González does not see any problem teaching such little girls rules on drinking manners and makeup, nor does she think the prep courses will become a psychological burden on Victória.

The mother complains of “discrimination” against little Miss contests, and believes the training will imbue her daughter with the feminine side girls have been losing.

‘Rather dead'

Do you know Gisele Bündchen? “Yes”, answers the group, all seemingly quite familiar with the Brazilian supermodel. But a few more questions reveal they actually thought it was a different person.

This is Gisselle Reyes, owner of the University of Beauty and the official instructor for Miss Venezuela contest. She is the “queen of ‘tumbao,’” a local word for a perfect swivel of the hip.

Being able to please Gisselle Reyes is an important step to reach powerful Osmel Sousa, who makes the final choice about who will compete in the final rounds to qualify for the Miss Venezuela contest — an event owned by the powerful broadcasting group Cisneros.

Plastic surgery is not necessarily seen as a problem for the contest, and girls may change their nose, raise their cheek bones, and undergo liposuction. Even teens and pre-teens undergo surgery, a fashion which the University of Beauty says it opposes.

“We do not recommend it to those under 18,” says Wendy Guillen, surrounded by her students.

One of them is Luisana Pimentel, 5, proof of national saying “antes muerta que sencilla” — something like “I’d rather be dead than being just somebody.” The little girl points down at the little high-heeled silver shoes, with small shiny stones: “This is my first time wearing these”, she says.

Indeed, Gulillen explains, that to make it to Miss Venezuela — and maybe even Miss Universe — there is only one real physical barrier: being short.

SOURCE:, 7/15/2012


Popular posts from this blog

Trans-Identified Male Crowned “Miss Greater Derry 2023,” Takes Home Women’s Scholarship

A local beauty pageant is attracting ample mockery on social media after a trans-identified male was crowned the winner of the competition and awarded a scholarship intended for young women. Brían Nguyen , 19, was awarded the crown in the Miss Greater Derry pageant, held on November 8 in the Greater Derry area of New Hampshire. The competition is a locally-run event under the national Miss America series of pageants. In addition to winning the crown, Nguyen will receive the  Miss Greater Derry Scholarship , a financial award established to support young women. Nguyen, who is male, is a freshman at Nashua Community College majoring in Business Management. After his win, Nguyen wrote on  Facebook : “ I am ecstatic to be the FIRST transgender woman to be a Miss America local titleholder, and I hope to make everyone proud and become the first to walk the Miss America stage. I am Brían Nguyen, your Miss Greater Derry 2023 .” Nguyen had previously announced on Instagram that he has intention

Miss America CEO & Others Resign Amid Scandal Over Offensive Emails – Update

2nd UPDATE, 12:03 PM:  Miss America Organization  CEO  Sam Haskell  resigned his post today amid an investigation into offensive emails he sent about a pageant winner. In a statement He has resigned along with president and COO Josh Randle and Lynn Weidner, the board chair who sent emails involved in the controversy. Related Two More Ex-Fox News Employees Join Defamation Suit Against Bill O'Reilly - Update According to a Twitter post from Dan Meyers, who is taking over as interim chairman, Weidner will remain on the board during a transition period: View image on Twitter Miss America Org ✔ @MissAmericaOrg Update from the Board of Directors... 3:01 PM - Dec 23, 2017   35 35 Replies     144 144 Retweets     291 291 likes Twitter Ads info and privacy UPDATED, 5:30 PM:  The Miss America Organization suspended its chief executive today, less than 24 hours after emails surfaced in which he disparaged the

Miss USA Vice-President Max Sebrechts Accused Of Sexual Harassment

IMAGE COURTESY: MISS ACADEMY  Max Sebrechts, the husband of Crystle Stewart, President of Miss USA organization (and formerly Miss USA 2008), has been accused of sexual improprieties by several Miss USA 2021 contestants, according to a YouTube video “Miss USA Scandal?” by Natly Denise, a “truther and pop-culture enthusiast.” You can watch the entire video here: On her video, Natly displays a screenshot  of an anonymous email sent to the affiliates of IMG/Endeavor including to Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO). The email was cc’d to Crystle and Michael Hannah (franchise director of Miss USA). The author of the email claims that MUO has been sent substantial evidence of Sebrechts’ sexual predatory behavior and Shugart has known about it for a while but didn’t say anything (obviously to cover it up and to protect Crystle). Natly also displays screenshots of direct messages sent to her by former Miss USA contestants (the names hav