Venezuelan Nose Jobs: The Quest to Look White

by August 1, 2013
filed under Activism

Apparently it’s not just North Americans who have skewed standards of beauty. In Venezuela, “a tall slender nose with a narrow nasal base” (in other words, a “white” nose) is the new height of attractiveness and women are flocking in larger numbers than ever for rhinoplasty surgery. Dartmouth Professor, Lauren Gulbas interviewed “63 white, black or racially-mixed women in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital; 39 of whom wanted a nose job. Of those, all 39 were either black or racially-mixed, and all believed having a “white nose” would boost their self-esteem.”

Venezuelan national heritage apparently gives precedence to European features such as light skin and slender noses. But the question remains: Does a nose job really boost a women’s self-esteem? In Gulbas’ study, feelings of “inadequacy” and “worthlessness” resurfaced, often causing women to want a second nose job. A huge factor is widespread racial prejudice in Venezuela. Perceptions of health and body are often tied to “racial margalization.” Women aren’t only trying to change their looks but also their lifestyle – they want the perceived “life of a white woman.”

The new trend has caused controversy and late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lays the blame on cosmetic surgeons pressuring women to undergo procedures that they can’t afford and it isn’t just in Venezuela. Iran has recently been called the “nose job capital of the world” with “seven times more operations carried out there than in America –  despite the high cost of the surgery.” Gurls in Iran, “as young as 14 years old” are having cosmetic surgery in search for “the Hollywood ‘doll face.’”

All throughout the world, you’ll find racial prejudice and an ideal standard of beauty that woman just cannot seem to achieve. Every woman everywhere has issues with some part of her body and feels if only her butt was smaller, her hips tinier, her breasts larger or her nose slimmer that she would be more satisfied and happy with her life. What Venezuelan and Iranian woman are doing and feeling is nothing new. It is a similar situation in North America, where we think we would be happier if we had lasers zap all the hair from our bikini line or when we inject Botox into our faces to fight wrinkles.

However, women are never going to be completely satisfied with their bodies. Despite having a successful rhinoplasty, a Venezuelan woman is almost certainly going to find the feelings of low self-esteem and self-worthlessness creeping back, steering her attention to a new problem and a procedure that will fix it.

The focus needs to be on self-esteem and the perpetuated idea that we are beautiful and perfect just the way we are despite skin colour, facial features, size, shape, or “imperfection.” We are born beautiful and although it’s human nature to compare, we need to stop focusing on physical beauty but rather, on our attitude and compassion. Our value is not skin deep and before we resort to radical procedures, we need to learn to love our own bodies for what they are and believe that we as women are equally beautiful. My mother told me that God made me just the way I am for a reason and that all I can do is be the best of me.  As Lady Gaga Sings: “I am on the right track baby / I was born this way.” This is what women everywhere need to know – from Venezuela to Iran to here in Canada. Instead of turning to surgery for a self-esteem boost, we have to find that self-love through self-exploration and self-realization.

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