Black women, do you remember that ‘list of the most beautiful girls’ in school? In what place did you come in?

A Lista das meninas mais bonitas

Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes a simple piece says so much. I’m sure we all remember these sort of lists and how we felt depending on the place we came in or if we even made the list. But how are the tastes that determine these lists constructed? Where do we get the values that judge one as more ________ than the next? We’ve seen this topic pop up here quite a bit in the past few weeks with the two recent displays of the belief in the supposed ‘superiority of white women’: one, a controversial Facebook page that was denounced and removed and another in a blog post.

Now if we were to leave this question to Afro-Brazilian men we would surely hear the tried and true line that “amor não tem cor” (love doesn’t have color) but having heard endless stories from black women of how they have been treated and/or completely ignored/passed over by black men I can attest to the fact that no one’s falling for the rhetoric. Having participated in numerous of the dialogues, this writer has witnessed some of the disrespect of black women by black men in social media conversations that could be described as shocking! All I can say is that the Portuguese/Brazilian did an incredible job of indoctrinating the Afro-Brazilian population with an acceptance of white superiority. It’s really not too hard to tell. The piece below is yet another that shows that at least the women can see it too!

The list of the most beautiful girls

“Do you remember that famous ‘lista das meninas mais bonitas da sala’ (list of the most beautiful girls in class) that the boys made in the gym?”

That was the question that a colleague brought up a meeting. And I stopped for two minutes to think … Of course I remembered the list and also I recalled in which position on the list I found myself. How could I forget?

by Lorena Pacheco for Portal Geledés

The so-called most beautiful girls of the class, the school or the street doesn’t differ much from the Globo TV standard: they’re always white, tall, thin, with long, straight hair, preferably with light-colored eyes … Wow! That would be the dearest, the “little doll”, “princess”, “Barbie” and many other loving adjectives. And we, less beautiful women, the last of such a list, we were negra (black), gorda (fat), cabelo “ruim” (“bad” hair) and thick features.

But this has nothing to do with it, right? It’s a matter of taste…

Yes and no

It’s a matter of “taste” of the men always leave black women at the side and always subdue our beauty. It must be a coincidence that we, black women, always occupy the last positions of the lists of the most beautiful. It must be a coincidence that black women have difficulty establishing an intimate relationship. It must be a matter of “taste” when men divide women (into those) for fun and women to date, and always put the black women in the “fun” category…

But look, I know, it has nothing to do with the structural racism in our society. It’s all a matter of taste!

We are socially constructed individuals, so taste, finding beautiful, want, and desired are feelings that have full influence on interpersonal relations that we experience daily, especially through the content spouted by the media that pervades the Disney cartoons and movies with wonderful Princesses (and white, slim with straight hair) to the models and Hollywood movie actresses (not coincidentally, white, slim with straight hair).

Hence we realize that we are taught since we are little to construct a hegemonic concept of what it is “to be beautiful” (or not). And perceive early on that not fitting into that standard of beauty is cruel and painful, because even if one doesn’t verbalize the word “FEIA” (UGLY), the feeling of not belonging is internalized and will have grave consequences.

How many black women/girls black straighten their hair before 13 years of age? How many black women have surgery to reduce their nose/breasts/lips? Is this by chance? Is this a matter of “taste”?

And today I realized all this… Today I realized how much I wanted to be within the standards and be accepted, and be beautiful and be there among the top. But I also realized that it was not worth all the years I’ve been fighting my roots to try to be something I’m not … And it hurt. It hurt every day I wanted to be “morena” (light brown/mixed), “parda” (brown/mixed) or “café-com-leite” (coffee with milk). It hurt to have to straighten my hair and deny my identidade negra (black identity).

And as a matter of taste letting my natural hair grow. As a matter of taste I reaffirm every day that I am NEGRA (BLACK). As a matter of taste I decided to deconstruct this racist taste that I had internalized. As a matter of taste I decided to be me.

SourcePortal Geledés

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. OK, why this is a woman’s point of view only? In my time at least, these sort of girly list, was stuff GIRLS did. If a boy you would come up with such a list, he would be beaten up for being a woos. Perhaps times changed, bu anyway, women (black, brown, white) had exactly the same prejudice and always preferred the white guys. So, stop moaning about how you poor black women are neglected and discriminated by the boys. You all did and DO this thousand times worse than the boys could possibly dream of.

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