3 years ago10,000+ Views
Rio de Janeiro's Talavera Bruce is one of Brazil's toughest female detention center - a maximum security lockup in a country human rights organizations know as having the fourth largest population of convicted and imprisoned criminals.
With that being said, it might be surprising to find that such a tough and crowded prison is also home to an annual beauty pageant - where every year, model inmates are invited to compete for the title of 'Miss Talavera Bruce'.
The beauty pageant is hosted by local church groups and human rights organizations, and every year, volunteers help the inmates apply makeup, style their hair, and get dressed into donated outfits for the competition's swimwear and eveningwear competitions.
Both the organizations and Talavera Bruce Penitentiary decided to launch the pageants as a way to help humanize inmates and boost their self-esteems, as many of them are serving sentences of several decades.
Friends and family of the inmates are invited to attend and cheer their loved one on as they compete, and each year, the show is hosted by a celebrity - this time, Brazilian model and actress Carol Nakamura.
Last year's winner was Ana Carolina Rosa de Souza, a 22-year-old convicted of drug trafficking, who claims that her year as Miss Talavera Bruce has inspired her to continue on her path to become a better person, adding that the ten judges participating are looking less at looks and more at social merit:

"The competition is not just about beauty. The judges are looking for the ability to express sympathy."

This year's winner, Michelle Neri Rangel, has been serving out a 39-year sentence since 2010 for prostitution and armed robbery. After beating out nine other contestants, she told local newspapers that she's already felt a vast improvement in her own self-image.

"[This competition] is a question of honor. I'm feeling like a woman, I've learned how to feel like a woman in prison."

How do you feel about beauty pageants for female prisoners? Should we be considering the self-esteem and quality of life of those serving long sentences? Or do these kind of events take away from the severity and significance of 'doing time'?

Let me know in the comments below, and for more WTF news, follow my WTF Street Journal collection!
@LizaNightshade I feel like prisons in the States should start doing things like this, but I have a feeling that it wouldn't vibe well with certain conservatives.
I think this is great.
@shannonl5 thank you for that insight! You really completely right! I will take your words in account the next time I end up is a similar discussion. 馃槉
@LizaNightshade well, we've got plenty! (Unfortunately)
@LizaNightshade wow thanks for your thoughtful response! It is something really difficult to discuss, even among people who are working in the system. From what I've experienced, the prison system in the States has a LOT of problems and there's really not an easy answer One of the things that really bothers me though is that it's SO expensive, and yet it's not actually rehabilitating people. A lot of people end up back in prison BECAUSE of the way we treat people who were incarcerated. They're discriminated against when it comes to jobs that they can apply for, and they're prevented from applying to jobs that tend to be entry-level and not require a lot of education (which is a common factor among people incarcerated- not a lot of access to education or training programs). So then why are we surprised when they break the law again? We make it impossible for them to make a living legally. Based on prison history in the states- no, the death sentence didn't decrease crime. The things proven to prevent crime are affordable mental health resources, more jobs, more access to education, resources for victims of domestic violence, and rehab for people with addiction problems. Systems that punish people after the fact are less effective than ones that remove the reasons people commit crimes in the first place. (and I don't think you're coming off as offensive to anyone! Like I said this is a difficult subject to discuss and I hope that everyone takes their cues from you and discusses in a respectful, thoughtful way)
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