17 November, 2018
The 67th Miss Universe beauty pageant will take place December 16 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The competition will include young women from around the world representing their countries. But one South American country, Chile, will not be represented by a native Chilean.
Instead, Andrea Diaz, a native of Venezuela will have that honor.
Diaz grew up in Valencia, Venezuela. She began training as a model at age 12 at a school there. At 19, she won a pageant organized by her town's baseball team.
As Diaz moved along her career path, she also moved away from home. She went first to Panama, and later to Mexico, for modeling jobs. In 2015, she settled in Chile, where most of her family members now live.
The 27-year-old woman told the Associated Press, "I represent the new Chile. This is an inclusive country where immigrants come in search of opportunities."
Thousands of people leave Venezuela each day to escape a lack of food and medicine in the country. Its economic crisis has created an almost 1 million percent inflation rate. Many beauty pageant hopefuls have left Venezuela and have found work in modeling and media fields.
Diaz is one of several Venezuelan beauty pageant competitors representing countries other than their homeland. Next month, a Venezuelan competitor will represent Portugal at the Miss World event in China. And, a recent Miss Earth pageant had two Venezuelan models who competed for other countries, including Jessica Russo.
Russo represented Peru just one year after moving to the country. She told the AP, "My dream of being a beauty queen was not going to stop just because I arrived in a new country."
The 22-year-old competitor did not make it into the Miss Earth finals. But she is not giving up. She says she hopes to one day win a competition for Peru, the country where her mother was born.
Beauty pageants are followed almost as closely as baseball in Venezuela. The South American country is a world leader in international pageants. Seven Miss Universe and six Miss World winners have been from Venezuela.
Critics say beauty competitions are sexist and outdated. But many Venezuelans argue that pageants have helped hundreds of women gain careers as models, actors, news announcers and more.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Manuel Rueda and Eva Vergara reported this story for the Associated Press news service. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
pageant – n. a beauty contest
opportunities – n. chances