Silicon City: Venezuela's Non-Petroleum Industry
Photographer: Miguel Gutierrez
Every six minutes, someone in Venezuela is subject to cosmetic surgery. In a country where millions of inhabitants suffer from a shortage of medicines, thousands are prepared to spend 50-years of minimum wage just for looking more beautiful. In Venezuela, a country that has been racked by a deep political and economic crisis for over five years, over 200 million US dollars are spent on cosmetic surgery every year. Someone goes under the plastic surgeon’s knife every six minutes in the country. Despite a widespread shortage of basic food and medical supplies, thousands are prepared to send the equivalent of 50-years’ worth of the average wage on cosmetic surgery and the pursuit of physical beauty. The market mainly targets women, including Genesis Bastidas, who had to choose between spending her savings on breast implants and joining the 4 million other Venezuelans who have emigrated due to the crippling crisis. In a society where young women are encouraged and pushed into going under the knife, Bastidas says that adhering to certain beauty standards and expectations mean that women have a better chance at being successful. Venezuela is known for its culture of beauty pageants; the country has provided 23 winners of the so-called “Big Four” beauty pageants of Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss Earth.