Colombian Media and the Obsession with Beauty

By Andrea Alarcón

It is easy to generalize on this topic, but I will just pick my battle with a small segment of the media today. I took some screenshots of several Colombian news outlets, and found that on any given day there is something related to a half-naked or fully naked woman, on the top third of their web site. They are all reputable, leading news agencies by the way. If I were looking at an entertainment site, it would be degrading, but expected. Many of these have little if no news value whatsoever. Check yesterday’s welcome screen for El Espectador for example:

Half-naked women for no reason

The photo on the left, was just the “photo of the day”, showcasing a PETA activist and model half naked on a plate, making, of course, a metaphor for eating meat. Well, we don’t have PETA in Colombia, we are culturally very carnivore, and the photo didn’t even have a story attached to it. It is certainly not front page news. And then on the right we have the story about the naked photos of Scarlett Johanson retrieved from a hacked phone. HOW ARE THESE NEWS. Now, I know, they need traffic, clicks, page views, visitors… But this is a sad trend I have witnessed in every Colombian print news site.

This comes from a cultural obsession with beauty. Colombian women are known for their beauty while men are known for their luck. Miss Universe is the second most watched broadcast event excepting Colombia’s soccer matches. Miss Colombia is a household name. Plastic surgery is extremely common place, and not unusual to be given as a gift to “quinceañeras“.

Miss Colombia
The Miss Colombia pageant is one of the most watched shows in the country. Photo courtesy of the Norte de Santander Department's website.

I know this is not the only country or culture to be affected this way. I regularly read Spanish, American, British and French news sites though, and the prevalence of things like this does not even come close to those of my native nation’s. What is it? Is your country the same?

2 thoughts on “Colombian Media and the Obsession with Beauty

  1. Well I would certainly say that America is similar! News is considered to be society gossip; I can’t go a day without reading about Beyonces belly bump or Kim Kardashian’s love life. Yes, these women are gorgeous, and the former talented, but they do not have to be breaking news. TV shows that promote vanity are equally all the rage. I think much of the world is the same in this respect, but they just have different versions.

  2. Thanks for your comment! I have lived in the United States for 10 years, and although there is a lot of celebrity gossip and obsession with beautiful women, it tends to be separated from the serious, mainstream media. You will not find a half-naked women on the homepage of nytimes.com. Of People? Yes. But that’s their niche. I also don’t think I know one single American who schedules watching a pageant… you are right, obsession with beauty in women is prevalent all over the world, but in my native country, it is expected in everyone.

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