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.
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