This semester I chose to study the telenovela Yo No Creo en los Hombres. This telenovela is fairly complex due to the large cast and multiple subplots. However, one of the common themes that I have found to be present in the storyline is the importance of appearance and physical beauty. In the telenovela, several of the romantic relationships are based on the characters’ pursuit to have a good appearance, whether it is to be physically beautiful or to appear wealthy and put together.
In the telenovela, there are two characters, Daniel and Malleny, who are dating people solely to gain access to their wealth. Although they are both in love with other people, they put themselves through difficult relationships just because they prioritize wealth, materialism and appearances so much. At the same time, there are two sets of relationships in the telenovela that have female characters who are critical of their own physical beauty. First, there is the relationship between Ari and Doris. Several times, Doris will get mad at Ari because she is convinced he thinks she is a “fat cake.” The second relationship is between Daniel and Ivana. Ivana, who works with a fashion designer company, has not been in a serious relationship before and as a result is constantly second-guessing Daniel’s intentions. Ivana views herself so poorly that she finds it difficult to let herself love Daniel.
I find this topic especially fascinating after our class discussed the importance of physical beauty in Latin American countries, particularly Venezuela. As discussed in class, Venezuelan citizens idolize physical beauty. In the minds of many females, plastic surgery is considered very normal. If anything, plastic surgery has almost become an expectation among women. Dr. A told us that Venezuela has more than 70 international beauty crowns and that credits and loans exist for plastic surgery. These statistics suggest just how much Venezuelans prioritize physical beauty.
Despite attempts of many producers to criticize this public attitude toward physical beauty, telenovela watchers are displeased if they do not see beautiful actresses and actors. In class today we talked about a specific telenovela called Ciudad Bendita. In this telenovela, Bendita is a beautiful woman who has a chronic limp. After several episodes, she eventually falls in love with a man, who happens to be “average” looking. Despite the telenovela’s effort to break the beauty code, viewers were not satisfied with the characters, according to Dr. A’s research. Dr. A concluded that viewers thought the protagonists were too ugly and thus were not happy with the telenovela as a whole. They also didn’t like that Bendita was never healed and that she fell in love with a man who was considered by many to be “un-prince” like.
In conclusion, I have found that people crave what they can’t realistically have. Though plastic surgery allows people to change parts of their bodies, there isn’t just one standard for beauty. Even with surgery, people will find something wrong with the way they look. At the same time, it is common for people to have issues, such as limps. However, in my opinion, to wish these circumstances away is to wish life away. Life is full of challenges and unexpected turns and we can't simply avoid these topics. It is fascinating to think, though, that viewers would rather watch a telenovela with characters who look like a small portion of society rather than have more realistic looking characters who they can actually relate to and understand on a deeper level.