Click to preview CHICA BARBIE photo book

Chica Barbie is an unconventional look at the conventions of beauty and how one society copes with adversity.

The beauty pageants of Colombia are legendary and ubiquitous, with over 400 pageants annually spilling across the poverty and violence-plagued country. This in-depth photographic project illuminates the Colombian obsession with a formulaic physical beauty, revealing a relationship with the contests which is surprisingly complex.

Carl Bower's photographs provide insight into this national obsession. He has traversed the country, from training schools and backstage preparations in small towns to the crush of crowds in the weeks-long Miss Colombia pageant, photographing the forces which define and reward a fixed feminine ideal. His penetrating black-and-white photographs reveal the pageants as an essential escape whose rewards are bittersweet.


About the Author

Carl Bower
carlbower Denver, Colorado
Carl Bower’s work addresses issues of identity within adverse social conditions. His photos have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Newsweek and the Sunday Times Magazine of London. Diane’s Story, his project on one woman's struggle with breast cancer, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. The series dealt with Diane's attempts to reclaim her sexual identity and maintain a sense of normalcy while confronting her own mortality. Carl’s need to understand the relation between these issues led to what would eventually become Chica Barbie. Chica Barbie was a finalist for the Book Award at the 2010 New York Photo Festival, Photolucida's 2009 Critical Mass Book Award and blurb's Photography Book Now competition. It was exhibited at the Farmani Gallery in New York, the Blue Sky Gallery and winner of the Blue Earth Alliance Prize for Best Project Photography and in the collection of the Portland Art Museum.

Comments (10)


patriciaisaz says

Dear Mr. Bower, yes your book is beautiful and photographs exquisite. Only one thing, I am Colombian and when I read your the promo for the book, that says "across the poverty and violence-plagued country" is very offensive. You will never come to Miami and do a book on Overtown, or if you travel to NY, instead of going to Madison Avenue or Central Park, you will go to the Bronx, or the slumps of Newark to find children eating out of garbage cans and come back to Colombia saying, ohhh what a pity, is such violent and plagued country with violence and poverty?
I going to share a link with you:

"Colombia has become a modern country with a bustling and vibrant economy, is third largest in South America". This taken from an article in the Wall Street Journal...
I will recommend you, that the next time you come to Colombia, try to find some Colombian people, that can take you to some wonderful places in Colombia and that they can show you everything, from the very poor, to the very rich and I am not saying just in money, but rich in culture and traditions. Colombians are known for being some of the friendliest people in the world.

posted at 04:35am Jan 20 PST


harrastaja says


posted at 01:18am Sep 16 PST


ginjam says

I love this set of work. Its so beautifully photographed.

posted at 05:52am Aug 21 PST


avsha says

nice and beutyfull chices of images

posted at 11:55pm Aug 19 PST


redtreeme says

Beautiful composition. :-)

posted at 02:19pm Aug 18 PST


glider says

Real pleasure to see great photography work.

posted at 10:57am Aug 04 PST


dblier says

Not only great but narrative pictures of a social phenomenon. Bravo!

posted at 09:49am Aug 03 PST


Blurb Sites

© 2014 Blurb