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Extreme Beauty Queens

Secrets of South America Episode 1 of 3

Billie JD Porter goes inside the Miss Venezuela boot camp, where plastic surgery and punishing diets transform ordinary young girls into rich and famous beauty queens in the world's most extreme contest.

Billie spends six months with the contestants as they prepare for the spectacular grand final. She discovers that it's a gruelling marathon of posing and pouting for the ultimate prize which will change their lives. To succeed, the girls must impress Venezuela's king of beauty, Osmel Sousa, who is a ruthless perfectionist.

Billie also explores why this country seems so obsessed with beauty when some of its people are still struggling with violence and poverty, as part of her three-part journey across South America in World Cup year.

Billie meets 20-year-old farm girl Laura, who has given up university so that she can fully focus on the beauty contest. She tells Billie about the pressure she feels to undergo cosmetic surgery, saying 'they want perfection but it doesn't exist.'

The programme also follows 18-year-old Meyer as she progresses to the final stages of the contest. Her brother and cousin were both shot dead in the barrio Meyer lives in and she sees success in the competition as a way out of the slums. Billie visits Meyer's home and meets her family, who tell her they work seven days a week to earn enough money to pay for the cosmetic surgery she has been told she needs to get ahead. So far she has had breast implants, a nose job, her teeth corrected and a mesh fitted to her tongue which makes it too painful to eat solids, and therefore easier for her to lose weight. She wants to find a way to transform her life and help her family and she's hoping that taking part in Miss Venezuela will be the answer.

Billie also gets close to Osmel Sousa and hears how he has been so successful at creating beauty queens for decades, with a string of Miss World victories to his name, and why he demands perfection.

The film is the first in Billie's three-part journey across South America, unlocking the secrets and obsessions of the continent.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Mon 8 Dec 2014 02:00

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Role Contributor
PresenterBillie JD Porter
Executive ProducerGian Quaglieni
ProducerClaire McFall
Assistant ProducerAlmudena Garcia-Parrado

What lengths do beauty contestants go to in Venezuela?

tongue mesh

Teenager Meyer reveals a plastic mesh on her tongue, which makes eating solids painful.