Note from BW of Brazil: For the past year and half or so this blog has consistently given examples of Brazilian media’s refusal to more accurately portray the physical appearance of the country. On television shows, commercials, billboards, magazines, films, model runways and several other genres, the mass media continues to prove what Afro-Brazilian activists have been saying for years to be true: judging from its media, one would think they were living in Denmark rather than the country that imported more 4 million African slaves. As it turns out, Brazilians have also noted this blatant misrepresentation. This becomes even more interesting when considering the results of a recent Face Research project that aimed to present the “average face” of several countries around the world. While the project didn’t reveal specifically its technique or even how many people participated for developing an image of the “average face”, the results are still interesting. Below are photos of women that the project determined to be the “average face” of women from eight countries.
In looking at the photos, even the person who hasn’t traveled to the countries represented in the photos would probably accept the image as something close to the that they had of the “average” woman in each of these countries. In looking at the image of the Brazilian woman, anyone who has seen images portrayed every day, week, month and year after year in Brazil’s media would surely note a difference in the findings of this project and the average image seen in the mainstream media. As presented in a previous post on magazine covers, the Rolling Stone Brasil cover featured at the top of the page pretty much represents the images on magazine covers of any newsstand throughout the country from week to week. So what do Brazilian people think of this? What effect does this have on one’s self-perception or how this affects one’s perception of beauty? The analysis below is by no means exhaustive, but it definitely raises the question and continues opening the door to the perception of the imposition of certain standards by highly influential mechanisms of influence.
Brazilian women don’t identify with standard of beauty shown on TV, says survey
by Joana Rizério
For 65% of respondents, the standard of feminine beauty shown in TV commercials is different from reality
“I like my scars, creases and marks.” The administrator Ludmila Lemos, 26, is not the only one who would like to see more women “normal” like her, appearing in TV commercials. According to the research entitled “Representação das Mulheres nas Propagandas de TV (Representation of Women in TV Advertisements)” done by the Instituto Patrícia Galvão (Patrícia Galvão Institute) in partnership with the Data Popular, 65% of 1,501 men and women interviewed from 100 municipalities think the standard of feminine beauty shown in TV commercials is different from reality.
While the so-called class C (economic class) represents 53% of the population and earn, on average, R$1,450 (US$659), the research shows that 73% believe that the advertisements on TV show more upper class women, while 83% of men and women interviewed see the real women as (coming) from the popular class.
To 83%, straight hair appears more, when what most Brazilians would like to see is curly/kinky and curly hair. Another 80% believe that the advertisements on TV show more white women, when the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) shows that 51% of Brazilians say they are black or brown.
“Locally speaking, I think it is a lack of alignment with the ethnic reality,” says the publicist and Director of Planning and Services of the communication agency Ideia 3, Renata Schubach, about commercials in the state of Bahia using models with Nordic features. She believes, however, that national advertisements use more white people because the biggest advertising firms are concentrated in the Southeast and South. “There is a predominance of blonds,” she says.
She also thinks that Brazil represents women differently from reality because it repeats international standards, according to market logic. “If you take the campaigns of Victoria’s Secrets, all have skinny blondes and blue eyes. One black woman like Naomi Campbell appears in a 30 second advertisement in 30 years,” she explains.
The survey also reveals that 84% agree that a woman’s body is used to promote the sale of products in advertisements on TV, and for 60% of those interviewed, women get frustrated when they don’t have the standard of beauty they see on television.
For sociologist Petilda Vazquez, it’s a delicate issue because the advertising campaigns reissue the culture of the woman as an object. “This idea of just showing young, beautiful white women, with sculptural bodies is a discriminatory trait of a society that does not deal well with cultural diversity,” she believes.
It’s harmful, according to the sociologist, the representation of aesthetic standards which don’t correspond to reality as being the ideal. “Whoever is not within this standard will feel pressured. Do you think the man feel more virile inside of a yellow Brasília (2) or a yellow Camaro?” she exemplifies.
1. According to the Face Research project, the “average” Brazilian women looks more like model Gracie Carvalho but on television and magazine covers faces like that of SBT TV host Eliana Michaelichin Bezerra are overwhelmingly more common.
2. The Brasilia was an automobile produced from 1973 to 1982 by Volkswagen Brazil (defined internally as model/type “102”). It was designed to combine the robustness of the Volkswagen Beetle, a car set out in the market, with the comfort of a car with greater interior space and more contemporary design. It was a small car, straight lines and large glass area. This name is a tribute to the then very modern city of the Federal District, founded 13 years before with the same name.