Latin America is known for producing Miss Universe contestants prime for winning (hello, Miss Venezuela takes the crown like ALL the time!). This year, Miss Colombia was crowned Miss Universe. But what happens on their road to the universal throne? Here are six things you never knew about Latin American beauty pageants:
In Venezuela, there are Miss Venezuela schools and "beauty factories" in which girls as young as 5-years-old are trained to be the next potential Miss Venezuela. At both the schools and factories the young girls and women are taught how to properly walk, given beauty tips, and given lessons in proper etiquette.
But there is a dark side to this as well, young girls are often given hormones to slow down their growing process, beauty pageant contestants are advised to go under the knife, and there was even a case reported of a woman who got a plastic mesh sewn onto her tongue so she would not be able to eat.
Colombia holds a Miss Colombia pageant each year in the city of Cartagena, which often features only light skin women from higher social classes. A slum within Cartagena has since created a rival pageant where they feature Afro-Colombian women of what is considered lower social classes.
Ecuador hold a beauty pageant called Reina Munidal del Banano, which is only open to banana-producing countries. A beauty queen from the United States currently holds this title.
4. Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, in order to win the title of Miss Dominican Republic, you must be single. Married women are not eligible to compete, and in 2012, Carlina Duran was stripped of her title after the pageant organization discovered she was married.
Chivilcoy, a town in Argentina, banned beauty pageants for quite some time on the grounds that they were too sexist and were giving many girls body image issues. But the town has since reinstated their pageants, which now focus on young people's achievements rather than their looks.
In Brazil, the focus is all on the booty with the country's Miss Bum Bum pageant. Many young women often go under the knife to get a better butt in order to be able to compete for the $20,000 prize.