In Venezuela, female beauty has come to be defined, in recent years, by plastic surgery enhancements—large busts and shapely butts in “often extreme proportions,” says the New York Times. One entrepreneurial mannequin maker caught on to the trend and decided to capitalize on it, hand-sculpting his plastic models to reflect the changing times. The Times:
Now his mannequins, and others like them, have become the standard in stores across Venezuela, serving as an exaggerated, sometimes polarizing, vision of the female form that calls out from the doorways of tiny shops selling cheap clothes to working-class women and the display windows of fancy boutiques in multilevel shopping malls.
In the 1970s and 80s, after the oil industry began to wane, the country’s economic strength was diminishing, but Venezuelan women—at least one of whom had had a nose job—were taking the title of Miss Universe. Their success pumped up interest in plastic surgery—although women in Venezuela don’t necessarily act on that interest more often than in other countries, they can be more open about the changes made to their bodies than women in the United States are. Some women’s groups have spoken out against the country’s obsession with looks, but the mannequin makers shrug it off. They are simply depicting the way Venezuelan women want to look today, they say.
Ms. Corro, the co-owner, explained the changes in the mannequins over just a few years: bigger breasts, bigger buttocks, svelte waists. Until recently, “the mannequins were natural, just like the women were natural,” she said. “The transformation has been both of the woman and of the mannequin.”
The old mannequins—those that followed the style of Europe or the U.S.—were totally unrealistic, anyway, the mannequin makers argue. (So skinny!) But at least one European country is trying to change feminine mannequins to better reflect unmodified women. Earlier this year, Sweden unveiled several full-bodied mannequins, photos of which made rounds on social media. “It’s an encouraging sign of the times that we’re beginning to push back against the anorexic ideal that is so deeply embedded in our commercial and cultural aesthetic,” the Washington Post wrote in an op-ed about the trend.
But, in a way, these changes are both responding to the same desire. Women have different standards for their own beauty, and, whatever gives them those ideas, they may simply want to recognize themselves—or their fantasy selves—in store windows.
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