Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Social Issues Addressed in Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso

My mom has always been a dedicated telenovela viewer. For the past few months, she has been watching the three nighttime telenovelas broadcasted on Telemundo, Silvana Sin Lana, Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso, and Señora Acero 3: La Coyote. Since I moved back home this semester, living in the same house as my mom has led me to have a nightly exposure to the telenovelas she is watching. Though I have watched bits of all three telenovelas, Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso, in particular, has really caught my attention. I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to start watching Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso from the beginning. She immediately recommended that I watch Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso before I caught up on the missed first half of Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso. Without a doubt, I searched for Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso, found it on Netflix, and followed her advice. So far, I have watched merely ten of the 175 episodes. In this post, I discuss the numerous social issues the telenovela has already represented within the first ten episodes, including obsession with beauty, consumption of drugs, high school dropouts, rape, and abortions.

The storyline of Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso revolves around Catalina, a young low income schoolgirl, who dreams of being the girlfriend of a wealthy drug dealer and achieving a life full of luxuries. Her best friend, Yesica, is responsible for recruiting the women that the drug leaders request to fulfill their sexual desires. Yesica’s nickname, La Diabla, fits her perfectly. She is a representation of the corruption present in schools and among youth in Colombia. She is the link between innocent schoolgirls and the narco-world, both in terms of drug consumption and sexual involvements.

 Catalina wants to be one of the women that Yesica delivers to the drug leaders but the small size of her breasts prevent any drug dealer from requesting her. Not only do the drug leaders reject her small breasts, but her boyfriend, Albiero also tells her that she would be the queen of the world if only she had bigger breasts. Catalina is tormented by the small size of breasts, since the other characters in the telenovela constantly define and marginalize her due to their size. She dreams with getting a breast augmentation, just like all her friends have. Catalina believes, that by getting the augmentation, she will be able to achieve her dream of being the rich girlfriend of a drug leader. Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso represents the definition of beauty as having a perfect body, with large breasts, a round bottom, a flat stomach, and tones legs. This is a common belief in many Latin American countries, especially countries like Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. Catalina’s obsession with obtaining large breasts is also a common desire of many people in Latin America who are dreaming of achieving the definition of beauty that their society uses to judge others.

Besides representing the obsession with an artificial definition of beauty, Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso incorporates many aspects of the drug world. Latin American communities, especially in countries like Colombia with its cocaine production, deal with the drug epidemics.   The telenovela features drug dealers, such as Cardona, Moron, Martinez, and “Titi,” that live a luxurious and materialistic life. The telenovela features the machismo present in the world of drug lords, and Latin American countries in general, through violence. For example, at Moron’s birthday party, his girlfriend requested the song ‘Como Una Flor’ for the band to sign. Upon being informed that the band could not play the song because they did not know it, Moron pulled out his gun and threatened each of the members with a gunshot to the head if they did not play the song. Machismo is also presented through the objectification of women, which considering the plot of the telenovela, is present in every episode. In the telenovela, there are drug lords asking how much a woman is worth. They believe that all women are up for purchase. One example that demonstrates the severe extent of this objectification is the role of Margot within the telenovela. Margot is a woman who owns and operates a catalog of women, where she takes promiscuous pictures of women, puts them in her catalog, and distributes the catalogs to drug lords. These drug lords then pick the girl of their interest from the catalog. The representation of the drug lord world depicts the reality of many Latin American communities. It represents the machismo that dominates these communities.

Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso also focuses on the consumption of drugs and the curiosity of young people. For example, Catalina, the naïve female protagonist, curiously asks her best friend, Yesica what it feels like to consume drugs. Yesica responds and offers to get Catalina some drugs whenever she wants to try them. This is an example of the corruption of schoolgirls that Yesica represents.

A third social issue that Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso highlights is the desperation of low income young people, especially in Colombia, to start making money. The infatuation with luxury promoted by the deep desire to get out of poverty leads young people to drop out of school. Bayron, Catalina’s brother, and Catalina both tell their mother, Hilda, that they plan to drop out of school. They tell her that it is not worth spending eights hours studying because upon graduation they will still be poor. Hilda does not agree with them and insists that they stay in school, instead of staying ignorant like she had to. Despite his mother’s hesitation, Bayron decides to drop out of school and takes a job as a hit man. Catalina delays the decision a little longer but in the meantime simply skips school to accompany Yesica on her business deals, such as taking a trip to Bogota. Hilda cannot come to terms with the decision of her children to give up an education. She suffers at the idea of them suffering and staying in poverty for the rest of their lives. While Hilda views school as the gateway to a reach a more prosperous life, Bayron and Catalina view school as the obstacle that impedes their dreams of making money. Bayron and Catalina, along with many other young people in their community, idolize Titi, a former poor schoolboy who dropped out of school, left their poor town, and is a rich a drug lord. When Catalina and Titi interact at a drug lord party, Catalina tells Titi that he is the reason why all the schoolboys and girls are dropping out of school. They all want to be successful like him.

Rape is a fourth social issue that appears in first ten episodes of Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso. When Martinez, an elementary drug dealer, asks Yesica to bring over two girls, Yesica takes Catalina and two other friends to visit Martinez. Catalina is hopeful that Martinez will pick her to sleep with him. That way, she will finally obtain the money she needs for her breast augmentation, which she believes will be her claim to fame within the world of drug lords. After Martinez does not pick Catalina, she is driven by her desperation and naiveness to accept the proposal of Caballo, one of Martinez’s bodyguards, to sleep with him in exchange for the money she needs for the breast augmentation. After Caballo and Catalina’s involvement, the two other bodyguards, Jorge and Orlando, walk in. They threaten Caballo that if they can’t be with Catalina too, then they will tell Martinez that Caballo was messing his woman. Catalina is already distraught and desperately calls for her. However, against her will, Jorge and Orlando take advantage of Catalina. This rape represents a tragedy that occurs in many communities. Older men, such as Jorge and Orlando, taking unconsented advantage of young and helpless girls, like Catalina, is a crime that occurs in many communities worldwide and extends beyond any particular social class.

A few weeks after the rape, Catalina finds out that she is pregnant. Her pregnancy gives rise to the social issues of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. At first, Catalina contemplates the idea of having the baby. However, Yesica tells Catalina that all her dreams of money and luxury will disappear if they baby is born. Yesica tells Catalina that the only solution is an abortion. Since they are young girls acting without the consent of their parents and are also poor, the abortion procedure is featured as unprofessional and very non-sanitary. Yesica does not take Catalina to a clinic. Instead, she takes Catalina to a residential townhome to see the man who will perform the abortion. He is dressed in rags and does not exhibit a professional demeanor. The man offers them two prices depending on whether or not Catalina will take on the pain. Once the man begins to perform the abortion, the telenovela features him snacking on cookie wafers. This scene represents the lack of access to safe abortion clinics in many communities. This is a problem that is aggravated in developing countries with poor communities, such as Colombia, where women do not have the resources they need to make safe choices. Even Yesica acknowledges the uncertified abilities of this man by telling Catalina that she does not have the follow the post-abortion recommendations of a lunatic “doctor.”

Even though I have only watched the first ten episodes of Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso, a handful of social issues faced by Colombian communities have already been represented. This telenovela is a telenovela de ruptura that has really caught my attention with its intense storyline. As I continue to watch Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso, I am interested in observing how additional social issues are incorporated into the plot of this successful telenovela.


  1. Maria,
    I really enjoyed this extremely thorough description of all the social issues this particular telenovela touched on in only ten episodes. What continues to baffle me is how countries such as Colombia and Venezuela, with large lower middle classes and increasing poverty, can afford to be so obsessed with appearances and superficiality. I understand that pageants are very popular among these countries, but how can a culture living from paycheck to paycheck be so engulfed with plastic surgery? This has always been so intersting to me. Furthermore, there is the argument that telenovelas such as Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso romanticize the idea of drug trafficking and the life style that surrounds it. From your description however, I think Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso does a fantastic job at setting an agenda and sticking to it. It is describing the negative side effects of drug cartels in Latin America. I can see how this argument can be made for other telenovelas such as La Reina del Sur but definitely not this one. You made me want to watch it on Netflix this Christmas break! Great job.

  2. Maria,

    Between your post and listening to Dr. A, I'm really interested into this point of the culture. I think what is hard to believe how a social issue of body image is such a serious issue because I believe we have them in the United States, but it is not to the point where it is normal to get the surgery done. This girl literally sells her soul "to the devil" in a social way to get a pair of breasts which is just unheard of here in the United States. Also, a lot of the culture displayed in this telenovela that you mentioned reminds me of in the U.S. how different the views are of the world.