My dissertation research will focus on Brazilian ideals and practices of beauty and aesthetic alterations of the body. Fieldwork will be conducted in two social milieus: a favela and an elite group of plastic surgery patients and body sculptors. It will emphasize both the Brazilian cultural and historical context which defines available meanings of beauty and the body, as well the subjective experience of beauty within this context. Research questions will focus on the connection between beauty practices and a cultural ideal of sensuality, and on the relationship between race, class and cosmetic techniques in a society with an official "myth of racial democracy". I will also address the relation between aesthetic cultivation of the body and power for both men and women. My research will suggest a critique of Euro-American notions of beauty by elucidating Brazilian ideas about race, social class and aesthetic ideals, vanity and display, and bodily practices and power.