Feeling beautiful: beauty and power among Brazilian 'travestis'
Julieta Vartabedian (FCSH / NOVA, Lisbon)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I want to reflect about the processes of beautification that Brazilian ‘travestis’ go through in order to feel beautiful. Becoming a ‘travesti’ is part of a process of empowerment that requires time, effort and dedication.
Paper long abstract:
Feeling beautiful and in good shape are very important issues if you live in Brazil. In the last two decades, the "beauty industry" has boomed in this country. Brazil also has the second highest rate of plastic surgery in the world. In the city of Rio de Janeiro, the importance of the body in everyday life is quite visible. Bodies are displayed, compared, scrutinized and exercised. In this paper I will pay attention to a group which, although reflects national concerns about beauty and bodies, has its own particularities in the way they experience and live a beautiful body. I will talk about Brazilian 'travestis'' beautification practices and the social, cultural and sexual processes involved in feeling a beautiful 'travesti'. It is through their bodies that 'travestis'' identities are constructed. Although they experience constraints both to achieve the ideal aesthetic 'travesti' and to build their identity in a society that discriminates and stigmatizes them, as beautiful 'travestis' they feel powerful and desired. Becoming a 'travesti' requires a constant effort and dedication because it will be in this process of feeling beautiful that they will grant meaning to their existence.