An obsession with big buttocks in Venezuela has led to thousands of women putting their health at risk using a procedure that in some cases has even proved deadly.
The procedure involving the injection of a type of silicon known as “biopolymers” into the backside, provides added volume to the body area. But the substance has also been shown to cause painful side effects, and on several occasions has resulted in fatality.
Between 2011 and 2012, 15 deaths were reported from the treatment and the Chavez government passed a law in November 2012 that prohibited the use of these substances. Yet many women go ahead with the procedure anyway, which has been administered at storefront businesses operating clandestinely and charging as little as eight dollars per injection.
It’s all a reflection of the out-of-control beauty culture that exists in Venezuela. In addition to “bottom lifts,” breast implants are a booming business. And in 2012, an estimated 250, 000 plastic surgeries were performed in Venezuela.
The obsession with appearance is due largely to the immense popularity of beauty pageants in the country. Venezuela has produced seven Miss Universe winners, a pageant that is the equivalent of the Super Bowl in the nation, and beauty contests are seen as a pathway to success for women.
“Nowadays, people judge you according to how you dress, how you walk, what shoes you wear, and all these kinds of things. If you dress ugly, they say “she looks like a man!” or “she looks dishevelled!” I don’t like that!” says Yetzabel Utrera, a telemarketer who has been following the Miss Venezuelan Beauty pageant since she was just 6 years old and still tunes into the contests religiously.
Correspondent Martin Markovits reports on Venezuela’s beauty obsession and the strong social pressure that exists in the country for women to look like a Beauty Queen.