How One Prison Is Helping Female Inmates Gain Confidence

The contestants arrived on the pageant stage with flowing gowns, full faces of makeup, helmets of hairspray — and criminal records.
The annual beauty contest at Brazil's Talavera Bruce Penitentiary, known as TB Girl, has been a tradition at the maximum-security facility for more than 10 years. Instead of a glitzy stage, the female inmates participating in the pageant strut across a catwalk constructed in the grassy prison courtyard. Prizes include the coveted winner's sash, a hairdryer, and a flat iron.
The beauty pageant behind bars has a worthy mission, according to prison unit director Barbara Christiane Campos Oliveira: increasing self-esteem among inmates.
Micheli Neri Rangel, 27, was crowned the winner of this year's pageant, according to a press release issued by the house of correction.
"When I entered [the competition], I said…I am no better than anyone else. But I'm going to enter to win. They always say that the TB Girl has to be beautiful, friendly, and charismatic. And I'm all of those things," Neri Rangel told the Brazilian television network Globo in her native Portuguese after her victory.
The pageant, hosted by model Carol Nakamura, featured both evening and beachwear competitions. The 10 contestants were judged on categories ranging from elegance to "outlook for the future," Globo reported.
Campos Oliveira said in a statement that the success of the pageant has inspired her to look for more events that can help humanize Brazil's prison population.
Click through to see photos from this year's contest, which was held on November 24.

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