Susan Meiselas • In Pursuit of Beauty • Magnum Photos

Magnum Pro

Editorial Cultural Creative Search Image Archive

Welcome to the New Magnum Photos Site

Explore the award-winning storytelling work of Magnum photographers here, or head to Magnum Pro to search and license photos from Magnum’s acclaimed image archive.

CONTINUE TO NEW SITE
SEARCH PHOTO ARCHIVE IN MAGNUM PRO
Arts & Culture

In Pursuit of Beauty

Susan Meiselas explores the beautification practices of Rio de Janeiro’s women

Susan Meiselas

Susan Meiselas Janine from the neighborhood. Piscinão de Ramos. Rio de Janeiro. Brazil. July 6, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Rose paints bleach on Margareth who covered her ex-husband's name with a tattoo of Che-Guevara. Piscinão de Ramos. Rio de Janeiro. Brazil. July 6, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Insti (...)
Susan Meiselas Vanessa, 23, with her hair being retreated by Clea, a hairdresser. She has worked alone for over 25 years. Mare, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 4, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Institu (...)
Susan Meiselas Sebastiana, a hairdresser, working at Betto Cabelereiro for 5 years. Mare, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 4, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Buenos Aires Street. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 7, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Suellen at hair service. Downtown, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 9, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas On the street, Mare, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 8, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Janice, owner of JW Hair Design with Adriana having her hair done by Martin. Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 5, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Tabatha and Raphaela, receptionists for Ckamura Hair Salon in Village Mall. Barra De Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 10, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Afro hairdresser, Samara and Angelique working on Larissa's hair. Downtown, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 9, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Angela gets manicure from Marli and highlights from Aya and his assistant Geane at the Saläƒo. Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 15, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Mo (...)
Susan Meiselas Kelly, 14, and Rebeca, 14, getting ready for launch of Etic Model agency. Jacacapagua, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 11, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Kelly, 14, on her first test shoot to launch with Etic Model agency. Jacacapagua, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 11, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas Elidra, 16, on her first test shoot to launch with Etic Model agency. Jacacapagua, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 11, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas "Lente dos Sonhos" (Lens of Dreams), a project created by Tony Barros 12 years ago to bring girls from the community into the world of fashion. Loruama in black with Rebeca, with Maria Luiza and Le (...)
Susan Meiselas Cida photographs the girls working at her store. Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Susan Meiselas In the market. Mare, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 4, 2014. With the support of Save the Dream and Instituto Moreira Salles. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos

For many Brazilian women, beautification is a means of self-realization. Its transformative power can become an opportunity for social mobility, a form of escape. In this photo study by Susan Meiselas,  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 slideshow above draws attention to the influence of the male gaze, the power of self-sexualization, and the idealization of whiteness. The images subtly suggest a tension between beauty as a form of empowerment and the expectation of beauty as a form of control.