What is the image of the Brazilian woman abroad?

Note from BBT: So this is a topic I’ve only touched upon sparingly over the years. It is a topic that continues to pique the interests of a lot of people, particularly men. Simply put, ‘what comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Brazilian woman’? I’m not going to share my thoughts on this because, having spent so much time in Brazil since the year 2000, my view is mostly based on my own eyes, my own experiences and cordial relationships I’ve had with brasileiras in the past few decades.

Does my image of the Brazilian woman match up with yours? Probably not and that’s true because I’ve often seen and heard how men react when the words ‘Brazilian woman’ are spoken. For many men, brazil has some of the most beautiful women in the world, much of this being based on the images of Brazilian women that people see in the media.

Is your image of the Brazilian women mostly based on videos and photos from Rio’s world famous Carnaval? Ok, fine. I happen to think that those images are a poor representation of Brazilian women overall because those women are obviously chosen for their beauty as well as their ability to samba and feel comfortable in front of a camera in costumes that leave very little to the imagination.

Maybe two years ago, I remember walking down one of São Paulo’s most important streets, Avenida Paulista, with another American and asking if he thought that there were more beautiful women in Brazil than in the US, to which he responded ‘F*ck yeah!’ Let me first say, as an average American male, I have a pretty good idea of what American men find atractive in a woman, and if we take into consideration that most men, given a choice, wouldn’t choose a fat or obese woman over a shapely, fit woman, that alone would support the reaction of the American man to whom I posed the question.

According to statistics I’ve come across, 4 of every 5 black American women are considered fat or obese and I have to admit, American women don’t look like they did when I was a teenager or in my early 20s. I see this every day in both the city of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs. Thursday and Friday of last week, on Detroit’s east side, I met with two female clients, one in her early 50s, the other in her early 40s, both of these women were extremely obese.

I would estimate that both weighed between 350-400 pounds. Both could hardly walk and both seemed to have breathing problems just walking across the room for a few minutes. I often wonder how it is that so many women got to be so big. I know some people will read these words and accuse me of fat shaming, but this isn’t at all what I’m doing. I’m simply saying that 30-40 years there weren’t that many obese women walking around in America’s large cities.

With this in mind and with the image of the Brazilian in the American mind, is it any wonder that a growing percentage of men are seeking female companionship outside of the US, with Brazil becoming a popular destination. As I’ve traveled and lived in Brazil for a total of 22 years, I’m quite accustomed to the reactions I get when black American men discover this. It’s inevitable. If I’m talking to man, usually, the first thing out of his mouth has to do with the women, which takes me back to the conversation I was having with the other American, a white male, with whom I was conversing on Avenida Paulista.

Even if I were to agree that, of every 20 women a man sees in the US or Brazil, that there were more attractive women per 20 women in Brazil than in the US, and I am not saying this, my question would be, of every 10 women one sees walking any street in São Paulo, how many of these women would the average American male think would have a 7 of 10 rating based opinions of physical beauty? When I posed this question, the other American guy responded ‘6’. in other words, in his opinion, of every ten women we saw walking down the street on Avenida Paulista, six would be rated a seven or above. Having spent a lot of time in São Paulo from 2008 to, at that time, 2019, I thought his estimate was way off.

Just like several other countries, Brazil has all sorts of women. Tall, short, thin, shapely, average, fat, obese, light, dark, pretty, average, below average, blond, brunette, red head, straight, kinky, curly hair and numerous other adjectives. Again, these adjectives themselves based purely on personal opinion. To prove my point, I challenged him. As we continued walking, I asked him to rate the women we saw walking down a busy Avenida Paulista that, at that time of day, was full of people doing their thing. As we kept track of his opinion, according to his own criteria, he came up well short of that original seven of ten ratio he thought of.

I’m not saying that there are few stunning women walking down the street on any given day in Brazil, I just think non-Brazilian men should get this idea out of their head that as soon as they get off a plane and land in Brazil that they will be surrounded by ‘dimes’ as far as the eye can see.

But why do we have these ideas of Brazilian women in the first place? And where do stereotypes about Brazilian come from? I’m sure there are plenty of Brazilian women that have thought of this and had to deal with image of the Brazilian woman that many non-Brazilian men have in their heads. Let’s take a look at what Luiza Sahd had to say about the topic.

How is the image of the Brazilian woman abroad?

By Luiza Sahd

I once wrote about ser brasileiro, meaning being a Brazilian, in Europe. Because of a different letter, the narrative changes 100%. Ser brasileira meaning being a Brazilian woman abroad, has nothing to do with being Brazilian abroad.

If you are an optimist and over twenty-something, one of the first images of the Brazilian-exportation that will come to your mind is the Girl from Ipanema. In any case, you may not be optimistic or you may just be young. In this case, the image of the Brazilian-exportation that will come to your mind will possibly be more linked to bouncing butts. Have you ever wondered why?

Innocent people will say that it is because we really bounce. I would just say “how strange, I know a legion of Brazilian women who don’t like to shake their hips (and many others who have impressive skills beyond that), but people only notice their shaking hips“.

Quite frankly, I never really worried about this issue. But then I thought I could travel the world – the world, supposedly so modern – and, since then, not a day goes by without hearing some stupid joke when I pronounce two simple words: sou brasileira, meaning, I am Brazilian.

What do I hear? When I travel in Europe, these two words seem to dissolve my clothes, even though it is winter and I am wearing many. By the time I finish saying “I am Brazilian” it’s too late: everyone is already seeing me naked.

Curiously, the most offensive thing I have heard in these three years of wandering came in a sentence without an ounce of explicit violence, uttered by a 27 year old Spaniard: “I prefer Brazilian women because Spanish women are very bossy.

Photo from article ‘7 Afro-Brazilian Women and Their ‘Everyday Politics” – courtesy of RioOnWatch

Interesting. Something tells me that this guy is obliged to respect the will of the Spanish women and that, in his imagination, it’s just as well to treat Brazilian women as people with no will of their own.

A very uncomfortable thing in this discussion is to think about how this image of the sensual and docile Brazilian woman was stuck in the imagination of people all over the world. We can start with the issue of prostitution, for example. There are prostitutes of all nationalities, but do the gringos, meaning foreigners, prefer the Brazilian women because we are prettier or cheaper?

Whenever the world seems too crazy to me, I have the habit of questioning whether I am the crazy one in this story. So, every time a European alleges that we have this “bad reputation” here in their continent due to the amount of Brazilian women who come to prostitute themselves, I ask: “But who is paying to have sex with these girls? Isn’t this what feeds the logic of supply and demand? Incredibly, these people who have an answer for everything never help me to find out who the clients are that feed this immense migratory flux that is more malicious than the Crusades or the Inquisition. Nobody knows, nobody has seen any guy paying for sex, and it could be that these Latin prostitutes feed on sunlight.

That’s right. In God’s eyes, nothing is impossible.

One way or another, we have received this heritage: Brazil is a great exporter of sex. Brazilian porn movies are always at the top of the gringos’ searches and this business prospers. The idea that smiling at a stranger when you are Brazilian is an invitation to sex – since smiling is not the greatest skill of these people – thrives. The idea that shaking the hips is not to play with the body itself, but to offer it to whoever is passing by. A lot of other cruelties thrive in a universe where women are merchandise. And, of course, the blame will never fall on those who go after consuming these things. It can even affect you, a Brazilian woman who doesn’t even work in the sex market but, well, you were born a Brazilian. To a man who feeds this market, no way.

Today, I see how Europe treats its women. It’s not an egalitarian society, but it seems less violent than ours… Unless the women come from a poor country. Whenever the identity of these girls is revealed, it seems a futile effort to try to show intelligence while the other only cares about asses. I know this because I keep on pronouncing the magic words, “I am Brazilian”, no matter what happens.

In any case, I wish very good luck and resilience to whoever wants to try.

Source: Luiza Sahd Blogosfera

About Marques Travae 3746 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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