(Photo credit: Jill Moore, Getting Ready – Ciudad Juarez, New Mexico)

Beyond Little Miss Sunshine or its mediocre Sandra Bullock precursor, I’d safely hazard a guess that beauty pageants are a mystery to most of us. However, there is no denying either their universal prevalence or profound impact on participants. Photographer Jill Moore examines the Miss Lydia Patterson Institute experience in her series Beauty Contest.

In her own words:

Eighty percent of the school’s population lives in Juarez, Mexico and crosses the border five days a week to go to school in El Paso. The pageant took place in Juarez, I was fortunate to photograph the event. I had been documenting the students at the school for about two years and tried to go to as many student events away from the school as I could. The pageant is more than a beauty contest; the lucky girl will hold the title of Miss Lydia Patterson Institute. The girls were so preoccupied with getting ready that I became invisible – which was my hope. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to photograph an event that was so innocuous and joyful in such a torn and dangerous place.

See the rest of the Beauty Contest series at www.jtmoorephotography.com