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She is the seventh child of engineer Álvaro Rocha and housewife Hansa. At the age of 18, in 1954, after winning the title of Miss Bahia in her home state, she became the first Miss Brazil to become a finalist of the Miss Universe pageant. However, despite popular acclamation, even in the USA, who favored her to win the title of Miss Universe it was Miss USA, Miriam Stevenson, who won the title. According to legend, Miriam's hip measurement was 2 inches (51 mm) smaller than that of Martha. The narrower look was the "standard measure" at that time.
Ever since, Martha Rocha has been a Brazilian reference of beauty.
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