Magazines exclude black teens: “I’m in Brazil, but I feel as if I’m in Russia”, says Communications student

Communications student Isabela Reis found that black girl are almost completely invisible in Brazil's teen magazines
Communications student Isabela Reis found that black girl are almost completely invisible in Brazil’s teen magazines

Note from BW of Brazil: The report we feature today is not new. In fact , it is the second time this blog has featured a piece about the exclusion of black adolescents in Brazil’s popular teen-oriented magazines. We don’t feature these articles simply to repeat the news but rather to show that week after week, year after year, racial representation in Brazil’s media remains the same. The results are the same in women’s magazines, baby magazines (for parents), bridal magazines, the film industry, television, advertising and many others areas of society. If you didn’t already know that 53% of Brazilians (out of 202 million) classify themselves as non-white, perhaps this wouldn’t be so shocking. 

Magazines exclude black teens: “I’m in Brazil, but I feel as if I’m in Russia”

At the request of the BBC Brasil, journalism student Isabela Reis analyzed the content of three magazines aimed at the teen public looking for concrete examples of the lack of representation of black girls in the media. The article below is part of a special that seeks to give voice to young people in the major debates that deal with Brazil.

Isabela Reis *

Special for the BBC Brasil

The invisibility of blacks in the Brazilian media is not a new subject, but the magazines for the teen audience reveal a cruel picture of exclusion. In a country where 57.8% of girls aged 10 to 19 years say they are preta (black) or parda (brown) (categories whose sum is commonly used to measure the black population), youth publications don’t see them. Only the brancas (white girls) are in the pages. There is no diversity.

It’s hard to grow up dealing with products that don’t include you. How do you explain to a black pre-teen in the middle of identity formation, that she is beautiful, if her favorite magazine ignores her skin tone? How do you exalt African beauty if the content stimulates embranquecimento (whitening)? How does one believe that crespo (kinky/curly) is normal, if the articles only display cabelos lisos (straight hair)? We are in the 21st century and it seems that we are stuck in time. We want to exist.

Isabela Reis analyzed three popular Brazilian teen magazines
Isabela Reis analyzed three popular Brazilian teen magazines

The August editions of three major teen magazines omit the country’s população negra (black population). Atrevida, Capricho and Todateen: 294 pages, only five photos of preta and parda teens. In Capricho, one image was an ad; another presented the new member of the team of readers who collaborate with the magazine. In Todateen, two pictures were on the wall of fans; the third, as in the competitor, one was from the team of collaborators. And only her. Atrevida didn’t present a black teenager. The preta and parda actresses and singers managed space in the publications because of fame, not color. They were 114 pages of standardization and exclusion.

Newsrooms know the composition of the public. Four of the five images were sent by black readers. They buy, read, are interested, interact, participate and collaborate. They are present and are ignored. There was no fashion editorial with black models, a section of hairstyles for cabelos cacheados (curly hair) and crespo or makeup tips for black skin. The magazines deal with bullying, sex, masturbation, compulsions, addictions, always with white characters, as if the issues didn’t affect or interest black girls.

Isabela looked at August editions of three magazines targeted at teenagers in Brazil.

Racism was also not on the agenda. We are in 2014, people still call blacks “macacos” (monkeys) and black youth are being massacred. The Mapa da Violência 2014 (Map of Violence 2014), by Flasco Brasil, reported a 32.4% increase in homicides of blacks between 15 and 24 years of age between 2002 and 2012. For each young white man who dies, 2.7 black youths lose their lives. And no one touches on the subject.

The magazines did not respond to contact attempts. If returned, would they be able justify this? Is it possible to explain the predominance of white girls in the pages when they are only one part of the girls from 10-19 years of age? If there was logic in numbers, 57.8% of the images should be of black girls. It’s not what happens.

We are approximately 9.7 million of colors and hair with our own personality, big lips, broad noses, beautiful smiles, readers, and the audience that will pay for magazines and the profit. And yet, we are not there. The media sells us a reality that does not exist. We live in Brazil, the country of miscegenation. Opening a magazine, I feel as if I’m in Russia.

It’s cruel to children who grow up with the feeling of not belonging to the universe presented in magazines. It’s cruel to adolescents who are convinced that, by straightening their hair and staying out of the sun, they will fit into the unrealistic standard. It is cruel for families who need to work double time to promote acceptance. They should have magazines as allies, but they are, in reality, a disservice.

* Isabela Reis is student of Social Communication at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) and is 18

Source: BBC Brasil

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


  1. It begs the question: Has she been to Russia? Oh the irony, Russia is majority White, the only Black people are Africans came for educational purposes and then stayed.

    Name a country where Racism is on the agenda? I am not saying it doesn’t need to be fought but the push back has to be on a much grander scale than it is now. You need to fix the economic problems FIRST.

    • in your rush to contradict, you miss the point. Brazil is majority Black hence why she uses the contrast.
      perhaps before giving useless advice, you can read properly first. just a suggestion.

      • Look… People are more worried about money and it’s implications than how somebody feels, that is what happens when you copy Western Capitalism.

        I tell Blacks in ‘Merica they should be starting businesses instead of complaining about companies don’t want to hire them, there’s LOTS to do in every Black Community.

        Economics are the root here, racism is an economic component. You reach parity with the dominate culture they can’t pull the same sh*t they current do.

        I read the dam thing, don’t think I didn’t that’s an assumption.

        Racism is not any countries National Agenda and it’s not Brazil’s either. How come the biggest state in Brazil with Blacks in it, is one of the poorest and is run/controlled by White skin Brazilians?

        Obviously some Blacks are voting for these people…. That means no effective leadership has come to the fore and all I see is blaming Pele and others for this.

        Electing this Black woman to run Brazil (Though that’s not the case, the countries rich run the country, remember Capitalism) might give Blacks the confidence to confront the institutional racism that exist in Brazil.

        As for my over-arching comment that is all Black Communities; Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Haiti, America, etc should all be working together, but language is a barrier.

        That barrier must be broken.

    • everytime i go on blogs, I read comments by either white ppl that are genuinely sick of black folk complaining about the ills that we experience. Or some privileged black guy that just doesnt get it. Why come on this blog if you are going to troll and quickly look for a scapegoat to discrimination without even understanding the passage. The woman says she feels like she is in Russia,-NOT BeCAUSe RUSSIA IS RACIST! but because it is majority WHITe…WHICH YOU SAID YOURSeLF IN YOUR PASSAGe. further proving that you don’t know what you are talking about….She feels like she is in Russia when she reads National Brasilian Magazines because everyone on there is white….Brasil is a country with a high black population…I don’t know if you are aware of that or not…from the looks of things you don’t. Yet we are not represented in the magazines-the tv shows-the movies-unless it is something negative. Black Culture is brazilian culture..from the food to the music to the dances to the religions…to martial arts….yet black culture is appropriated and black people thrown to the side like in the states… ANYONe SAYING THINGS LIKe BLACK PPL ALWAYS COMPLAIN…GO START YOUR OWN MAG IS AN FUCKING IDIOT!! i cant stand comments like that…it clearly shows that you are just flying by the issue and not really understanding the facts, and limitations that come with international white supremacy…I know so many black folk that have their own publications, but if you can’t get in with the dominant society, the money is slow to none. I could go on for days about this but at some point i have to stoop myself

  2. This blog, and many blacks based in western countries all over the world (Brazil, the US, UK, France) always seem to complain about either: 1. the representation of black people in the media or 2. the lack of diversity and representation of blacks in top corporate jobs.

    Here’s an idea. Why don’t blacks pool their resources together and create their own TV broadcasters, magazines, films and newspapers? WHAT is stopping blacks from doing that? Nobody is enslaved anymore. There is nothing stopping blacks practicing group economics and starting their own companies and patronizing their own businesses. In fact, this blog right here is an example of black owned media, more proof that we should not care what whites produce, and focus on what we are producing.

    It is a very simple concept, yet blacks can’t seem to grasp it. Blacks would march day and night for ‘equality’ but won’t put in the mental, intellectual and emotional hard work it takes to innovate and create profitable businesses. It feels like you’re living in Russia does it? Here’s another solution: gather 5 of your friends who study communications. Learn graphic design for free online. Create a logo. Write. Take pictures of young black females. Paste it together and print it out. Distribute and sell for $1.99. There you go, you’ve got your own magazine, representative of your demographic and issues.

    It’s so easy to blame the white man for all our problems. Equality and respect isn’t granted through civil and government legislation, or begging the white man for a seat at the table. Equality and respect is granted through economic power, which ultimately leads to political power. SIMPLE. Until blacks sort out their economic mess and start producing and owning, nothing will change.

    Until then, i’ll carry on servicing my white customers (blacks don’t support black businesses).

  3. Why whine and complain? Start your own magazine and be fabulous!!!

    Of course we know starting your own magazine actually is doing work!!

    Its alot easier to whine, moan and complain rather than actually do some work.

    I know, you are Black so that makes you special automatically. Boo hoo, that only shows how ugly you are on the inside.

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