This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Body Image

I am pretty far from a feminist, but something I've found very interesting in class is looking at the issues of body image and how females are portrayed in telenovelas. I have a lot of respect for Leonardo Padron after learning about the normal Venezuelan view of women. Seeing his telenovelas addressing this issue outright, like in La Mujer Perfecta, is really cool. I consider our culture as having pretty harsh standards for women as far as looks go, but it sounds to me like we are a far cry from Venezuela when it comes to standards. I feel the pressures here in America as we are bombarded by images of beautiful models and movie stars. I can't imagine being a young girl in Venezuela where you are bombarded with Miss Universes. I would hope that I would still have confidence in myself as I am, but it sounds like the pressures there are more etched into the culture than here. Here, I think we recognize that the pressures exist, where in Venezuela, from what Dr. A has said about conversations with her family and friends, the pressures are not recognized but are accepted as commonalities.
A twist to this that I also find interesting is the issue of women using their bodies to get what they want. This takes the body image issue to another level. Not only are women pressured to look perfect by the mere beauty of the women they see, they are also seeing that being beautiful and sexy is also a necessary attribute to get what you want in life. The whole body image issue is always going to be a big one, but I think recognizing the issue is very important, especially for young girls. Using Hispanic television's most popular outlet of telenovelas is definitely a great way to do this.


  1. I don't mean to pick this out of your post, but it struck me as interesting. What does "feminist" mean to you? And why do you think you are far from being one?

    To me, being a feminist simply means understanding women are equal members of society and holding others accountable to that truth. I thought the loaded word "feminist" had lost its former stigma of bra burnings and armpit hair, but maybe it hasn't?

  2. Also, if my last post sounded rude, it was meant to sound curious. The internet isn't the best venue to convey tone.

  3. I too find it interesting the sexual pressures of women in Venezuela compared to those of the United States. You always hear banter about advertisting efforts for women products portraying images of what's beautiful and changing women's view of what they need to look like. I think it is safe to say that this is a controversial subject in our society. However, as Kennan pointed out, it is more than a controversial subject in Venezuela, it is a living catalyst for how women carry on through their days. It would appear from the lectures and telenovelas that women are surround by the commonalities of doing what it takes to be la mujer perfecta and the perfections of a Miss Universe.

  4. While La Mujer Perfecta certainly seems to raise some pertinent issues about body image in Venezuela, I can understand how that message might not be getting through to all of the viewers. Sure, it is nice that Padron includes the perils of the obsession with plastic and figure, but at the end of the day we are still left looking at a cast of supermodels. I have tremendous respect for Padron and his insight into society, but I think that his message here could have gone over the heads of many of his viewers. Additionally, I think its tremendous that he included the Autism theme, but I could see how that might also contribute to distract people from analyzing what a perfect woman really means in the context of body image, since it is a different issue altogether, not to mention the fact that the autistic character literally has a perfect body.

  5. I used to think that the US was bad as well in terms of body image, but Dr. A really shed some light on the fact that Venezuela has image issues, too. I think this speaks great volumes about something Dr. A mentioned in a panel on global PR the day: "Invisible" regions of the world. We know Venezuela exists, but we don't know what the people are like. We think we're the king of image issues, but we haven't even taken a look at the issues and habits that pervade in lesser known cultures to us.

    Maybe there's a place out there where they make bigger hamburgers. And the people are fatter. And louder. Who knows.

  6. I think on a global scale, women generally get the short hand of the stick! In many male-dominated societies, women are made to feel inadequate and less than. The pressures on women to be a size 2, with a 36" bust is apparent everywhere you look. The media sends mixed signals by telling women to embrace their curves---but be sure to wear a size 2. Scott brings up a big point about the actresses in La Mujer Perfecta. Yes, at the end Padron delivers a wonderful VERBAL message, but the main actresses send a different VISUAL message. "Don't worry about being the perfect woman, just look like I do and you're close enough". I think that women can one day overcome these self image issues, but in order to do so it will take strides from men and women alike.