Every year, in the wake of the Miss America and other beauty pageant competitions, there are inevitable debates about whether or not beauty pageants promote leadership, self-confidence, and good deeds, or merely objectify contestants.

While most pageants have strict rules pertaining to behavior and the contestants’ pasts, a type of pageant in Brazil defies these norms and gives groups of women a chance to compete in a truly unique setting: jail.

An Annual Event

Look and Feel Like a Beauty QueenBeauty pageants aren’t new for female inmates in Brazil; they’ve been going on for years. At Buen Pastor prison in Bogata, the pageant is held every year on the feast of the Virgin of Mercy, who is the patron saint of prisoners.

Check out this slide show for amazing photos from a prison pageant: http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=USRTR2PSEL#a=1

Making A Positive Impact on Female Inmates

Even those who question the value of beauty pageants in traditional settings have good things to say about the prison pageant programs in Brazil.

Kate Sullivan, reporting for Allure, wrote: “prison beauty pageants have always struck me differently, and it’s not because I value the contestants any less. It’s because their circumstances are so different that parading around in Speedo is actually more humanizing than dehumanizing.”

In essence, prison beauty pageants give women in a difficult situation feel beautiful again.

Age is No Obstacle

Though not every woman in prison is eligible to compete for the crowns offered during prison pageants, prisons often have separate competitions for older women and younger women. Buen Pastor has a “Reina Madre” (Queen Mother) title for married women, which gives women of all ages a chance to take a crown.

Look and Feel Like a Beauty Queen

Even if you’re not going to be competing in any beauty pageants, you deserve to look and feel as beautiful on the outside as you feel on the inside.

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