At only 28 years old, former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall has died from breast cancer. Eva was just 17 when she was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2000, and then the following year she was third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant. But Eva was much more than a pretty face, as she went on to be not only a wife and mother, but a model, actress, television news anchor, and author before her life was cut tragically short.
Ironically, the pageant queen's most lasting legacy may be that of her battle against Venezuela's obsession with beauty. Eva said in an interview, "It's absurd that there should be a taboo about breast cancer in a country of breast implants, where women have few reservations about showing off their surgically-enhanced breasts." With shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, we may think the US has a beauty pageant addiction, but Venezuela is known for its focus on looks. The country has one of the biggest markets for breast augmentation in the world, and its beauty schools for girls churn out pageant queens (it even holds the record for most Miss World wins).
After being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2010, Eva wanted to make a stand against this focus on appearance. She chronicled her struggle with the disease in her book, Fuera de Foco, which means "out of focus," and is photographed bald for the cover. In an interview she said, "I hate to see photos in which I come out ugly. But you know what? Nobody ever said cancer is pretty or that I should look like Miss Venezuela when I have cancer."
See this remarkable woman over the years now.