Thursday, September 15, 2016

Plastic Surgery in South America

Growing up as an American, one of the first things I learned was to never judge a book by its cover. Although it is well known that American ideas and cultures are not exactly similar to neighboring countries such as Mexico or Canada, I had always thought that this particular way of life in not judging someone by how they look was global. I can honestly say that after taking this class and watching my telenovela, judging based on looks is a lot more prevalent and accepted in other countries then I had ever imagined. After doing some research, it blew me away after finding out that plastic surgery loans are the third highest in demand when it comes to loans behind mortgages and car payments in South America.

Osmel Sousa, head of the Miss Venezuela Beauty Pageant, is a very well known plastic surgeon in not only Venezuela but most of the world. Sousa argues, "If it can be easily fixed with surgery, then why not do it?." He also goes on to say that to be considered beautiful, body enhancements are often necessary. "...inner beauty does not exist, thats something that unpretty women do to justify themselves," says Sousa, as he performs hundreds, if not thousands of surgeries every year. After reading those simple quotes, I was extremely blown away. I was raised being taught the complete opposite in that a persons true identity is on their insides. Sousa goes against this essentially saying women are only good for their looks. I will say, however, that Sousa's ideology make a lot more sense with what I see in telenovelas as most women have breasts large enough to potentially give them serious back problems as they age. As I reflect on Sousa's words, I can only hope that his thoughts are not the same thoughts as the other 400 million people living in South America, but something tells me I am wrong. As previously stated, surgery loans are the third highest loan in demand making it almost crystal clear that looks are extremely important in South America.

After learning about judging in South America, two thoughts or reflections come to mind: first, how sad it is that we live in a world where we make opinions about people before we ever hear a word out of their mouth and second, how Sousa's words will play into my telenovela, El Señor de Los Cielos. Besides the large breasted women in my telenovela, the only other relation to plastic surgery was when Aurelio Casillas has to get his face changed after being spotted by the Federal. I hope Sousa's words are not as bad as I think, but I will find out more as I watch my telenovela unfold as a reflection of the South American people.


  1. Hey Sam!

    I really enjoyed reading your opinions on this upsetting issue especially since I, too, was shocked to hear about the reality that is going on for women across the globe. As for the Sousa quotes, I think they served as a vital piece of support for your blog post. It really showed me to what extreme these plastic surgeons and men from these societies think. In turn, I found myself comparing a lot of what you said with our culture here in the US. Does everyone in the upcoming generation want to look like Kylie Jenner and her impossible body standard? Because plastic surgery is looked down upon in our culture and seen as try hard or fake, do you think that that's the only reason people in Hollywood and America don't get plastic surgery as often - because it's taboo or they're afraid of being judged? I think that if people in America were as accepting of plastic surgery as the citizens of countries like Venezuela are, I really believe there would be a rise in the number of cosmetic surgeries because I think the beauty standard in both countries is placed at an impossible high and unattainable for a vast majority of women.

  2. Hi Sam,

    I enjoyed reading your post. However, I need to correct something: Osmel Sousa isn't a plastic surgeon. He's the "Venezuelan beauty czar", the Director of the Miss Venezuela Beauty Pageant. All the quotes you gathered belong to him, of course. Yes, he's a believer in plastic surgery and his views are part of the burden that Venezuelan women carry.

  3. Hola Sam! Cuando doctora nos habló de la popularidad de la cirugía plástica en Sudamérica, particularmente en Venezuela, me sorprendió mucho. Creo que es terrible que las mujeres en Venezuela crean que la cirugía plástica es siempre necesaria con cualquier pequeño problema, como dice la cita de Sousa. La cirugía plástica está comenzando a ser más popular en los Estados Unidos desafortunadamente. Muchas de nuestras figuras públicas en los medios de comunicación han recibido claramente cirugía plástica. Cuando las muchachas jóvenes ven las mujeres hermosas que han tenido cirugía plástica, ellas también la quieren. Es una realidad muy triste que muchas mujeres jóvenes en todo el mundo sienten que necesitan cirugía plástica para ser bella.

  4. I was similarly shocked upon learning about the prevalence of plastic surgery in South America. However, thinking about it, it makes a lot of sense to me that lesser-developed countries (like many in South America) would have higher rates of plasstic surgery than countries like the U.S. I think a big part of this is determined by where a woman's value is perceived to come from- in the U.S., women can have successful careers or impressive degrees or even awe-inspiring tales of volunteering with less fortunate communities. In South America, those, these things aren't as widespread- fewer women work outside of the home, fewer women go to college, etc. When those avenues of respect or success are taken away, some fall to physical appearance. Sure, that can be expensive, but it likely still costs less, and certainly takes less time, than going to college or standing up to the patriarchy.
    Clearly I'm no expert, and it's possible that none of this is true, but that's what I was thinking about when we had this discussion in class.

  5. Melanie, you bring up a valid point I had not previously thought about: the possibility of South American women being devoted to their looks as many of them feel they have nothing else. I know in America for example, in comparison to other countries, has a high percentage of women in the working class. Nearly 55% of women in the world are in the working class in comparison to the 82% of men in the working class. Although South America has a relatively close percentage of women in the working class in comparison to the United States, I find it interesting that the concept of plastic surgery and self-improvement is taken to a whole new level in countries south of here. Im not sure of the reason for this but your comments have made relevant other reasons/possibilities that I had previously never thought about.

  6. Melanie, your post was really interesting and insightful. I must say, I do have to agree that it is so sad that as women we are automatically judged on our looks. We should be able to speak our mind and be seen for our intellect but sadly this is just not the case. To me, I'm all for doing what makes you happy. If you feel like you need to change your nose or your breasts to make you feel better about yourself and more satisfied with yourself, then by all means do that. But most of the time, it really won't solve anything and foster up more insecurities and you'll continue to go under the knife for more surgery. My roommate is Mexican American and she's always talking about how Latinas love to look good and are always dressed to go to a quincera! Latinas are consumed with media telling them that their bodies are not enough. From a young age, you grow up with the mentality and start to idolize those women so Latina girls strive to look like the women in the Latino culture. Also the men are portrayed as falling in love with these women so they want to look good for their men. Also I do think family plays a role in projecting these ideals as well.