Beauty Pageant Behind Bars

Being sent to the bleak women’s prison UF-91/9 in Siberia doesn’t exactly sound as elegant as Martha Stewart’s Camp Cupcake. But once a year, at their annual “Miss Spring” Beauty Pageant, the women put on more girlie trimmings than even one of the TV homemaker’s creations. What started with a dress made from scraps of kitchen trash bags has become a glamorous fashion show with a few outfits per contestant. At this female-run pageant you won’t find a swimsuit competition, but there are three creative categories based on Greek myths, flowers, and futuristic prison uniforms. The convicted, uh, cuties, who are serving time for everything from possession of narcotics to murder, compete for the title, which comes with quite a prize: a chance at early parole. But win or lose, there are fringe benefits for everyone since the local TV channel and the BBC air the Miss Gulag Pageant to showcase the prisoners during prime time. [BBC]

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