Finding Supermodels in Rural Brazil

Finding Supermodels in Rural Brazil

Scouts comb farming villages offering winsome teenage girls the opportunity to become the next Gisele Bündchen. (NYT)

In southern Brazil, where women are known for having the colonial European genetic makeup prized by the global fashion industry, Alisson Chornak is one of many model scouts searching for potential clients. In a pink SUV, Chornak cruises schoolyards and shopping malls accosting young girls with modeling offers in a manner that might be considered stalking anywhere else. Here, the locals welcome an opportunity to thrust their children into an occupation that could mean a better future them and their family.

Michele Meurer, 16, is one of several girls plucked from the farming villages of Rio Grande do Sul for a tryout in São Paulo. This New York Times video follows the tall, thin, blue-eyed Meurer as she reluctantly leaves her home for the big city where Mr. Chornak houses her in a three-bedroom apartment with 11 other girls. Although she professes to the camera that she wants to become a “new Michele” in every way, Meurer has difficulty with the rigors of training and, to the disappointment of her scout, packs up and goes home two weeks before São Paulo Fashion Week.

Experts say that the market may be trending away from the European look as the ideal for beauty, and more “real women” with darker skin and ethnic features may soon be in demand. For the present, however, the camera can’t get enough of these winsome Brazilian beauties.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 5:33

By Myrna Domit, Alexei Barrionuevo and Jeremy Beiler