Secrets of South America

Series 1 - 1. Extreme Beauty Queens: Secrets of South America

Radio Times
Review by:
Ellie Austin

If you think Britons are obsessed by physical perfection, prepare to be appalled by this behind-the-scenes look at the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant. From the eight-year-old girls attending Saturday “beauty school” to the waifish contestants sewing mesh onto their tongues to prevent the consumption of solid food, the competition is a vulgar misdirection of energy, ambition and resources in a country where millions of people live in filthy, food-deprived slums.

As well as spending time with the insecurity-ridden contestants, presenter Billie JD Porter meets pageant judge and national hero Osmel Sousa, a vile man who believes that beauty is a 23-inch waist and feminists are bitter “ugly Betties”. Absurd and horrifying in equal measure.

About this programme

1/3. In the first edition of her exploration of South American cultural quirks, Billie JD Porter visits the Miss Venezuela boot camp, where young women are trained to become beauty queens under the tutelage of the `King of Beauty' Osmel Sousa. She meets a 20-year-old farm girl who has given up university to focus on the competition, and an 18-year-old whose family works seven days a week to pay for the cosmetic surgery she requires to succeed and escape the slums in which she lives.

Cast and crew


Billie JD Porter


Executive Producer
Gian Quaglieni
Claire McFall