August 6, 2014
by Susan Meiselas
For many Brazilian women, beautification is a means of self-realization.
It is an opportunity for social mobility. It can be a form of escape. The opportunity to transform the body can be a canvas for the imagination.
In these images we see women’s rituals to beautify themselves throughout Rio de Janeiro. These brief encounters not only reveal the way that the allure of beauty is realized on a day-to-day basis, but also the subtle politics of the pursuit of beauty. The sequence draws attention to the influence of the male gaze, the power of self-sexualization, and the idealization of whiteness. They subtly suggest a tension between beauty as a form of empowerment and the expectation of beauty as a form of control.