For this blog post I want to explore the role of beauty that I have seen so far in Senora Acero. I just finished episode 15 and the role of beauty is something that I have noticed, especially after our discussion of plastic surgery and other procedures in class today.
I think it is interesting how beauty ties in with other themes we talked about in class, such as the classic "Cinderella" story seen in many telenovelas. Senora Acero is a kind of backwards Cinderella story in that a wealthy woman becomes poor when her husband dies and all of their assets are taken up by the government and she must go on the run. However, it is notable that she is beautiful, throughout her time living on the streets and trying to survive along with her young son. In contrast, she has two wealthy sisters who are significantly less attractive. This is addressed directly and is shown to be part of the reason why they are jealous of her. Their jealousy plays a large role later as well, as in Cinderella with her own ugly stepsisters.
It is also interesting to note that Sara (the protagonist) is also noticeably innocent throughout the beginning of the novela. It is clear that she will progress and become more cutthroat because her surroundings force her to based on the opening credits and the progress I have seen so far up until episode 15. However, I noticed that her beauty is also connected to the image the writers have given her as an innocent woman.
Sara is much more bare-faced than many of the other women she encounters throughout the novela, yet she is the most beautiful. Men love her, and other women—like her sisters—are often jealous. Many of the women she meets, for example, work at a hair salon (which has an illegal plastic surgery clinic in the back). They wear heavy makeup, have obviously had numerous surgeries, and dress in bright, flashy clothing that is usually paired with stilettos. One of the characters, Sara's sister-in-law Mariana, is a businesswoman, but unlike Sara, she is always seen with a full face of makeup, perfect hair, trendy clothing, and high heels. When she was first introduced, I almost thought she was too perfect.
In these women, I feel that the telenovela writers are making a statement about the importance of female beauty in their society and how other people might view it. It is as if they are trying to show that no matter how many surgeries or how much makeup you use, a naturally beautiful woman will always be preferred. But I think it is interesting also that later in the telenovela, when Sara becomes a more confident and powerful character, she begins dressing more like Mariana and wearing more makeup (this is based on previews I have seen for future episodes). Her natural beauty leaves along with her innocence, suggesting that an innocent woman is also preferred. In the beginning of the telenovela, Sara is very much a woman to whom things happen. She does not control her destiny—bad things just happen to her and she is naive and does not understand why. As her character develops, she loses this naivete and thus her innocent appearance as well.
I will close this observation with this quote from the woman who performs illegal plastic surgeries at the salon where Sara later works (she does not know about the illegal activity). This woman's name is Enriqueta, and she is middle-aged and has had countless procedures done over the years. When asked about the benefits of surgery by a patient, she responds, "Just look at me. I have the body of a 15-year-old girl!" I thought the comment was interesting because in American culture, it is encouraged for women to look young and innocent, but usually not that young and innocent.