If you’d like to see a reflection of popular media as a musical play, then Another Word for Beauty is the perfect play to watch! Playwright by José Rivera’s Another Word for Beauty, is based on an actual Colombian prison where there is an annual beauty pageant; five girls compete every year to win the crown. The five girls who compete this year are Yolanda (Stephanie Andrea Barron), Xiomara (Helen Cespedes), Luzmery (Danaya Esperanza), Nora (Zoë Sophia Garcia), and Isabelle (Carmen Zilles). The audience learns about each character’s personality and background story of how they ended up in the jail through their process in getting ready for the pageant. Although the thought of a musical version of “Orange is the New Black” does sound exciting, Another Word for Beauty, sadly, lacks purpose. There is no character growth, no turning point, there is nothing that makes audiences want to keep watching because none of the characters show any sign of changing. Another Word for Beauty lacks what most plays, stories, and any literary pieces have, but even though it misses a purpose, it does remind the public of the necessity of diversity in mainstream media.
Just when people thought Latina representation would rise Another Word for Beauty completely destroys it by having white-passing Latinas. Even though a dark skinned Latina does [SPOILER ALERT] win the pageant, it’s hard to forget the fact that the rest could be looked at as white. This play’s narrow racial image of beauty reminds audiences that the majority of people still believe in the old school image of beauty. By having most of the contestants, except one, look American even though they’re not, and having Isabelle, a fair skinned, blonde beauty as one of the most awarded girl in the prison, shows the public just how much this image of a typical white American beauty has transcended over the years and even over to nations where not all of the women look “white”. Another Word for Beauty also touches upon how contradictory the media is. Throughout the play the phrase “Beauty comes from within” is repeated while the pageant host and other prison members keep on oversexualizing the contestants. These actions reflect on how society has raised their females “Be yourself, it’s beautiful” is emphasized but so is having a “fit” body and nice physical assets to show off.
Even if Another Word for Beauty lacks purpose and progress, it still has a strong message within. This play is the epitome of stereotypical beauty. It reminds people that this image of beauty leaves people like Luzmery, the only dark skinned contestant, feeling like they can’t win. This Colombian pageant version of “Orange is the New Black” can make audiences think twice about what the media portrays and what they have learned throughout their lives. Another Word for Beauty brings social issues to the stage in order to make people aware that what they are living, seeing, and sometimes promoting (unconsciously or consciously) is not okay because it leaves too many queens without the crown they deserve, and makes some people feel inferior when really we’re all the same.