Team: Mariana has a team of professionals who are with her 24/7 - including a nutritionist, personal trainer, protocol teacher, catwalk teacher, oratory coach, a talent assistant, make-up artists and clothing designers Meanwhile, parents desperate to see their daughters crowned queens are injecting them with hormones, aged just eight or nine, to halt the onset of puberty and cause them to grow taller, our investigation found.
And many parents, who see their daughter's success as a route out of poverty, do whatever it takes - even getting into crippling debt - to finance places in the academies and pay for expensive surgical procedures.
Dozens of teenage girls die every year during cosmetic surgery in the country.
The campaign in middle schools by an organisation called NO to Biopolymers, YES to Life foundation was set up by Mary Perdomo, who later died of the result of buttock injections she'd had four years earlier.
Maria Trinidad, from the group, said: 'Every girl here dreams of being a "Miss".
We Venezuelans see those people as the perfect women.
When you live in a country where a beautiful woman has greater career prospects than someone with a strong work ethic and first-class education, you are forced into the mindset that there is nothing more important than beauty.' When the Miss Venezuela 2005 broadcast was interrupted for 15 minutes by a televised speech by then-president Hugo Chavez, thousands of angry viewers in Caracas protested by banging on pots from their windows and firing guns into the air.
Brutal: Many girls opt to have a plastic mesh sewn onto their tongue, making eating solid food unbearably painful.
But others, aged 16 and 17, have even cut out a part of their intestines to absord less food Pain: Oriana Gomez, 21, who came second in the country's Miss Sport contest, talked to Mail Online while in visible pain from a black strap tightly wrapped around her stomach, crushing her waist to just 25ins 'Too fat': Oriana was told she was 'too fat' to go on to compete in the Miss Venezuela contest - hence the drastic measures.
Shockingly, the strap replaced a tighter and even more painful plaster cast stomach wrap which she had worn for two weeks 'I still have the bruises all over my torso,' she said A week before the grand final of the most important contest of them all, Miss World, Mail Online visited one of the hundreds of 'beauty academies' which have sprung up in the South American nation to hone wannabe beauty queens.
Dubbed 'Miss factories', the schools train girls how to strut down a catwalk, walk in high heels, manners and diction, as well as giving advice on reaching the beauty queen standard of perfection - 90, 60, 90, referring to breast, waist and thighs.
Situated on the first floor of an office block in the Sabana Grande district of downtown Caracas - incidentally the country's plastic surgery boulevard - the Belankazar academy has 600 girls on their books, aged five to 29.
Removing the lower intestine means that food exits the body faster.
The girls who do this are the ones who aren't disciplined enough to lose weight by willpower alone.