Miss Talavera Bruce

Maximum security prison in Brazil hosts an annual beauty pageant for inmates

Inmate contestants stand at the annual beauty pageant at the Talavera Bruce women's prison on November 24, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Brazil’s Talavera Bruce prison is located within the notorious, sprawling Bangu penitentiary complex. But this maximum-security facility is arguably best-known for a rather unusual feature: its annual inmate beauty pageant. Getty Images photographer Mario Tama was given inside access to the event in 2015 and posted about the experience on the photo agencies news blog recently.

The Miss Talavera Bruce contest, which is run by church and community groups, has been taking place for the past decade. Volunteers style the hair and makeup of 10 women, who compete in both formal and swimwear contests. Family members are allowed into the prison to watch their loved ones strut their stuff.

According to Tama, Brazil is home to the world’s fourth largest prison population, and the rate of female incarceration is on the rise. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of women held in Brazilian prisons skyrocketed 576 percent, according to the Ministry of Justice. Prison facilities in the country are overcrowded, which can lead to dire conditions for inmates.

The Miss Talavera Bruce contest seeks to restore the inmates’ humanity and sense of self-worth — if only for one joyful afternoon.

Read the full story at Getty Images.


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