When the bright lights go dim: Two of Carnaval’s poster girls fall into depression after losing their status

Globeleza beauties Valéria Valenssa and Nayara Justino
Globeleza beauties Valéria Valenssa and Nayara Justino

Note from BW of Brazil: It’s something that millions dream of. Lights, camera, fame and fortune. Of course the feeling must be of utter joy and satisfaction when one manages to overcome the millions to one odds and actually manages gets there or are at least on their way. The revelry of being “queen for a day”. Or even a few years. In Brazil, a coveted post that brings this type of fame is the woman denominated the “Globeleza” girl. The Globeleza girl is the poster girl of propaganda that signals the arrival of the yearly media extravaganza that is Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval. Of course, Carnaval is celebrated throughout the country but it is the Rio version that is most famous around the world. “Quando o Carnaval chegar”, or “when Carnaval arrives”, people have “tanta alegria” (so much joy) and men drool over the “moça que passa e não posso pegar” (the girl who passes by and I can’t get) as told in the famous song of legendary musician Chico Buarque. 

Chico Buarque – Quando o Carnaval Chegar

The Globeleza is exactly that type of woman. Every year leading up to the beginning of Carnaval, Globo TV broadcasts short video clips of the Globeleza girl gyrating her hips to the beat of a samba-enredo alerting the people that perhaps the most celebrated season in Brazil is on its way. These little vignettes are shown several times everyday and generally makes the chosen Globeleza girl famous instantly. The term “Globeleza” is a mixture of the words Globo (as in the Globo network) and “beleza”, which is Portuguese for beautiful. Valéria Valenssa and Nayara Justino are two women who have held that post. 

Valéria Valenssa and Nayara Justino in their days as the "Globeleza girl"
Valéria Valenssa and Nayara Justino in their days as the “Globeleza girl”

Valéria Valenssa reigned as the Globeleza girl for 14 years, from 1991-2004. She was briefly replaced by Giane Carvalho in 2005 and then the baton was passed to Aline Prado, who held the title from 2006 to 2013. Then in late 2013, a controversial contest was held on the Globo TV network to find a new girl to replace Prado. The Globeleza is always represented by a black woman who is generally recognized as a “mulata”. As has been consistently emphasized on this blog, Brazilian society generally reserves two “places” for black women: she is either a maid, whose domain is in the household, specifically the kitchen or she is the sexually alluring “mulata” whose talents are thought to be suitable only for the bedroom.

The four Globelezas: Valéria Valenssa (1991-2004), Giane Carvalho (2005), Aline Prado (2006-2013), Nayara Justino
The four Globelezas: Valéria Valenssa (1991-2004), Giane Carvalho (2005), Aline Prado (2006-2013), Nayara Justino

These images have been rampant throughout the Brazilian media for decades which is exactly what provoked protests against the contest and are also at the root of current protests due to Globo’s current TV series Sexo e as negas (Sex and the negresses). These stereotypes of black women are inherent in the hierarchy of the popular saying “Branca para casar, mulata para fornicar, negra para trabalhar” (white woman for marriage, mulata for fornication and black woman for work). It should be noted that the term “mulata” derives from the term mula or mule which is an animal that is used for work. 

And as the white woman remains the standard of beauty in Brazil and her image constantly dominates magazine covers and the image of Brazilian women in the media in general, Carnaval with its overtly sensual/sexual images of all women, but specifically black women strongly reinforces the “place” of black women because this is generally the only time of year when women of visible African descent are prominently featured on television. But as the spotlight on black women is generally only for an instant, what happens when the fame and attention fades away? As two recent stories show, sometimes it is depression that sets in.

During her 14 year reign as the Globeleza, Valéria Valenssa was one of Brazil's most recognizable women and an enduring symbol of Carnaval
During her 14 year reign as the Globeleza, Valéria Valenssa was one of Brazil’s most recognizable women and an enduring symbol of Carnaval

For Valenssa, who held the title for 14 years, it was perhaps difficult because she was accustomed to the position for so long and even having left the post 10 years ago, she is still the most memorable of all the Globeleza women. For Justino, the crash is perhaps just as devastating but for a different reason. For although the position of Globeleza is always held by a woman of visible African ancestry, the first three women who held the post had much lighter skin tones. In fact, many were surprised when she chosen over the other contestants to fulfill the Globeleza position.

Although she won the right to become the new Globeleza girl in 2013, public reaction to Nayara Justino will lead to her replacement after only one year
Although she won the right to become the new Globeleza girl in 2013, public reaction to Nayara Justino will lead to her replacement after only one year

After her selection in the controversial reality show competition, Justino was almost immediately criticized online by Brazilians who thought she wasn’t pretty enough and that she didn’t samba very well. It is also not possible to ignore the fact that her darker skin tone definitely played a role in the way she was berated by the public. As the Carnaval season proceeded, the airing of television commercials featuring Justino were noticeably reduced as Globo TV picked up on the fact that the public wasn’t pleased with her and soon starting airing commercials featuring Samba musicians instead of the new Globeleza girl. Below are two examples of what happens when the lights go dim.

Nayara Justino loses her post and contest will choose new Globeleza

Courtesy of Extra

Nayara Justino
Nayara Justino

Looking for a Globeleza. Nayara Justino, elected this year, lost her post as the “Retratos da Vida” (Portraits of Life) had anticipated. In the courts of the samba schools of Rio, mulatas are being sought to fill the role in the next Carnival. The idea is to conduct a new competition – the question remains if the choice will be by popular vote, as happened last time, or by expert judges.

Nayara was not as successful as was expected in the Globo TV vignettes and went virtually unnoticed in the parade of the samba schools. The now ex-Globeleza has already begun Carnival discredited, and had no right or credential ceded by Liesa for her free circulation in the Sambadrome in Rio. With the failure, Nayara went through a period of depression.

Nayara Justino is elected Globeleza for 2014 – making of and Globeleza video

Globeleza becomes depressed and says she suffered internet racism 

According Nayara Justino, the attacks began this week on social networks

Courtesy of Famosidades

Nayara Justino said she fell into some depression after receiving racist messages about her through social networks. According to Globeleza, the attacks began this week, after being reported that the girl would lose her status as symbol of Globo TV’s Carnival in 2015.

“I won the popular vote, why are blasting me like this? So much offensive news; a journalist attacking me…That ended my life. Newspapers published this news and people post racist comments,” she vented in an interview with Extra. Cairo Jardim, Nayara’s husband, said he has done everything so that his wife doesn’t access the internet and be more vulnerable to insults.

Justino with husband Cairo Jardim
Justino with husband Cairo Jardim

“Nayara is outraged. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone, she doesn’t want to go out. And worst of all are these racist messages she has read on the internet. I have gathered here over 50 messages calling her ugly, macaca (monkey)…Nayara has suffered prejudice since childhood, but now it’s getting heavy. She has cried a lot,” said the businessman.

Nevertheless, Cairo believes that the girl will come out on top. “She talked to the psychologist and made ​​an appointment. It’s a lot of evil and prejudice what they are doing to my wife. We are deciding whether or not to denounce it. But the most important thing now is that she wants to get through this,” he added.

Valéria Valenssa fell into a deep depression after losing her position as Globeleza, reveals author that wrote her biography

By Michael Sá

Valéria Valenssa
Valéria Valenssa

After realizing her dream of achieving fame and money as a symbol of Carnival for 14 consecutive years, Valéria Valenssa went through a deep depression when she was forced to leave the position ten years ago. This drama will be revealed for the first time in the authorized biography that publisher Tinta Negra will be released during the next Carnival. The book, still in preparation, will reveal that Valéria was traumatized when she went back to living far away from the spotlight.

Valéria Valenssa – Globeleza 1990-2001 – Making of

“She went through all the expectations of a girl coming from the suburbs, who made it to fame quickly, until one day she was replaced. So for her, it was a very difficult time. Valéria suffered depression and didn’t even leave the house. Though she knew it was not forever, that depends on her physical form and youth….she suffered a violent thud,” says Laura Bergallo, who penned the book with Josiane Duarte. Valéria’s depression, according to the author, was so deep that it almost affected her marriage to designer Hans Donner of TV Globo, with whom she has two children.

Valenssa with husband Hans Donner
Valenssa with husband Hans Donner

“She wanted very much to stay on as Globeleza. And the marriage was affected by the depression she entered when she lost her job. When Valéria became pregnant, something she really wanted, her body was different. Then, she found that her departure had to do with it and had several cosmetic procedures,” added Laura.

Support in religion

According to the author, Valéria only managed pick herself up and overcome trauma after converting (becoming Evangelical).

Valenssa after her conversion to the Evangelical faith
Valenssa after her conversion to the Evangelical faith

“Her life is full of ups and downs, and Valéria reached this current level through faith. She left the suburb, from a very modest family, and meteorically got where he went, known in Brazil and much of the world, married to a powerful and famous man, and suddenly they came to her and said, look, you will be replaced. It was a thud. She was not an actress, she couldn’t give continuity to what she did,” she explains.

Away from the spotlight, Valéria, now 42, is fully dedicated to her family and transformed her life story into a testimony of faith in churches all over the country.

“She’s still very pretty. I think that today she’s found her place. I don’t think she wants to be famous again, at least not on this issue, using her body…Really because evangelicals have this restriction. Although she is still very vain, I believe that Valéria is now more family,” opines Laura, that plans to narrate the life of the former Globeleza like a big fairy tale:

“What happened to her happens to almost all people who have a very great success. The biography is a book that talks about overcoming. The story tells of a fairy tale that had its hard times and became an example of overcoming.”

Source: Extra, Correio do Estado,  Extra (2)

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


  1. I was really happy when Nayara was chosen. She is a symbol that many people in Brazil ARE trying to progress past the stereotypical idea of the place that dark-skinned Black women are meant to occupy. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of elitist, white supremacist trolls who cannot stand to see the image of a dark skinned person doing well for herself. But we have seen this MANY times. Whenever a Black person steps into a space that was not traditionally created for them, there is an attempt to tear that person down. Just ask Serena Williams, Barack Obama, and Oprah Winfrey. It is clear that Brazil is becoming more comfortable in its “Blackness”, but that those who think they are at the top want to hold on to their perceive “elite” status. I hope that Nayara will be able to understand, in time, what an important symbol she is for all of the traditionally African looking Brazilian women!

  2. So when successful black women have white partners it’s not an issue but when black men do it it is and deserves multiple blog posts? Anyone else notice the hypocrisy here from black women?

    • James, thank you. After reading this article I was getting ready to ask the same question. The argument black women do it because they can’t find successful black partners who want them is fallacious because men will literally try and talk to any minority attractive woman. I genuinely want an honest explanation for this caveat ?

      • To James and thepaperroute:

        I will not attempt to get into a long debate in a comments section on this issue but I do want to address a few things.

        My first question for either of you would be this: Have you ever lived or even visited Brazil? As I have lived in both the US and Brazil and have read reports about black men/women relationships in both countries I can affirm from everyday experience as well as a number of studies that the situation in the US is not even close to what it is in Brazil.

        In the US, even with rising interracial marriage, when one looks at black NBA and NFL stars, popular male singers and actors, you still see a vast majority of black men married to black women. In Brazil it is the exact opposite. In fact it is quite difficult to find a famous black male entertainer or athlete who has a black wife. There was a book released a few years ago here called “Virou Regra?”, which means, “has it become the rule?” precisely because of this point that is backed up with solid data.

        Statistically, it is the black Brazilian women who takes longer to find a partner and is much more likely to spend her later years alone. This explosion of IR marriage has really taken off in the past two decades. I have friends who watched previous generations of men in their family mostly marry black women to the current generation where all of the brothers in a family marry white women.

        Can either of you (whatever country you live in) point to several black families in which all or nearly all of the brothers married white women? I’m not saying 1 guy out of 5 brothers married a white girl. I’m talking 3-5 out of 5. In my many years in the US, I never saw a case like this whereas here it is not difficult to find.

        It is not simply a case of pointing the finger at black men as James seems to think it is. It is simple fact. What is the problem in someone asking the question? If you ever travel to Rio, Sao Paulo or other major cities in Brazil, there are days when you can note that it is difficult to see BM/BW couple. Literally. In those two cities you often will see white couples and mixed couples.

        I have traveled to several cities throughout Brazil and have had this conversation with several black women. I can confirm that many black women on this blog are indeed married to white men. But again, it’s not the simply pointing it out, the question would be what are the factors involved in the selection process? I will tell you this. I have very rarely EVER met a black man here who speaks of his desire to marry a black woman. In the US, for example, even with the rise IR marriage, you will still meet many black men who affirm their preference for black women. In Brazil, most black men will tell you that “love has no color” which, in my view, is simply a politically correct response to hide a preference for white women. On the other hand, even though there are also black women who marry white men here, I more often hear and read discussions among black women who grow frustrated with their invisibility in the eyes of black men. In general, I’ve never read a discussion initiated by black men here. And I’ve followed this both in the now defunct Orkut network as well as Facebook for about 10 years.

        It’s always the same: black women ask why; black men respond “I don’t have a preference”. Just my observation.

        I will speak very honestly. In reference to one of the women in the article, Nayara Justino. I believe she is a beautiful black woman but in my experiences, black men simply do not date/marry women of her color if they have options for light-skinned black women (mulatas) or white women, specifically blonds. I see it everyday! One woman from a northeastern state here (I believe Ceara) noted that black men in her state don’t even want “mixed” women. They flock directly to white women!

        In my view, it appears that white men in Brazil appreciate black women more than black men. I have heard countless stories of brown-skinned, beautiful black women who speak of white men who approach them, respect them and express their interest whereas their experiences with black men suggest that they are only good to “ficar”, or spend a night with. Again, many conversations over the years.

        It is not possible to speak of all the reasons in this debate, but I will say that there are many black women’s organizations here that put these issues on the table. I don’t know of many/any black men’s organizations who even approach the issue. Even within the Movimento Negro, black rights organizations, a large number of black leaders are married to white women. I don’t mean just a Julian Bond here or there….

        In your countries, can you also say that?

        Today I read in a social network of another black actress (not very well-known, but she’s been in a number of novelas) who announced her plans to marry a white man. The woman who posted it posted a very powerful comment supporting the actress’s choice. Not because she necessarily supports IR marriage but because she knows how hard it is for a black woman here is she’s waiting for a black man to marry her. In one of the posts on this blog you will notice where a black woman said a black man she once dated basically told her that for her to stay with her, she would have to “take care” of him.

        The above actress speak of is brown-skinned, overweight and spent many years alone. I can’t speak for her personal situation, but in a Euro-centric Brazil where 90% of black men prefer white women, what chance would she have to get a black man? It may sound like an exaggeration to you, but if you’ve never been to Brazil you will not understand. Remember, there was never any widespread movement for black pride here, so what image does the black man get here in terms of what is beautiful?

        In the future I will post an article that shows a large number of Afro-Brazilian women married to white men as well. But again, the question would be to explore the reasons beyond the simple, “I fell in love/love has no color”.

  3. @gatasnegrasbrasioeiras

    I honestly do not mean to come across as trying to rile you up and get you angry… I truly wish you we were having this conversation in person so you can truly see my intentions is from the perspective of understanding and not argumentative but your explanation ( thank you for responding btw) has two critical things that confuse me:

    1) you said that that “in your view it appears that white men appreciate black women more than black men in brasil…” But to me this statement almost undermines one of the key principle complaints this blog raises and that is how often times black women in brasil are treated as sex object with little respect espcially from white males. But now your saying that white men respect black women more than black men?

    2) In my experiences negras in brasil and the USA have always complained about them not being able to find good black males to marry, etc. but to me and espcially in my experiences many Negras ( here and in brasil) turn down good and decent black men because of silly reason. For example, the biggest compliant I hear is lack of chemistry or I’m just not attracted to him or he’s just. Not my type. But honestly, what many of these women don’t realize is in actually sciences chemical reactions can occur instantly or it can take a long period of time but many of these black women are quick to dismiss a good black male due to lack of that invented made up spark. Furthermore, many than go on to proceed to pick up men who shouldn’t be worth their time and than complain saying adages like ” t can’t find good black men of they don’t want me” while in actually they friend zoned the previous 5-6 decent black males who actually wanted love from them.

    I have lived in brasil for a considerable amount of time, speak Portuguese at an advanced level and traveled through out the country. In my experiences in brasil brancas gave me the most chances and were most receptive toward me.. I even had a hard time getting Negras to consider me when I lived in favelas in rio and. São Paulo and you would think that Negras or pardas in the favelas would be a little more receptive to me ( not saying because I am a gringo they should be because that is a very untrue myth about poor women in brasil) as I didn’t have mal intentions. And this kills me most because I think Negras in brasil are the most beautiful women on earth. ( I have quasi given up on the Negras in the USA)

    What I’m really saying is that it seems to me( please do not take offense by this) that many Negras fail to take responsibility for their own luck with men and would rather scapegoat black males for why they are still single or can’t find black males than look inward at their decisions. I’m sure many times regarding famous negros, Negras wouldn’t give them the time of day but when they become successful complain about how they date brancas

    Please respond: I look forward to your response.

    • Thank you for your response as well.

      Let me get to your points.

      1) Anyone who has looked at Brazilian history and its media representations will clearly see how women of visible African descent are viewed in Brazil. But the severity of the issue goes as follows.

      It is not a contradiction to say that, as a whole, Brazilian society DOES see mulheres negras in this way. But the whole as a generalization does not speak for ALL men. You can have the society as a whole representing one thing but individual persons making their own choices and having the same perspective as one would expect. What this bolis down to it that one cannot condemn all white men as seeing black women in this way even though the image re-enforced such a view.

      Second, the very fact that there are so many BW who speak of how, in their experiences, white men approach and treat them as women more often than black men, speaks to the severity of the issue. Of course there is no way to speak for ALL BW, BM or WM as there are 200 million people in Brazil.

      2) In regards to your second point, we cannot forget the fact that BM and BW have both been indoctrinated with the “white woman trophy” and “white prince on the white horse” symbolism. And yes, I have also heard BM who say that MW won’t give them the time of day, which also exists.

      I could never address your personal experience as there could be any number of reasons for what you found.

      But what backs up my point is the simple fact that statistics show that BM are not the ones who are single into their later years. BM are not the ones who have to wait more years to find a partner, be that partner white or black. BM are not the ones who are being abandoned for women of the opposite race after having children with someone of the same race.

      Now, if there are studies that point to another hypothesis, I haven’t seen them. On the other hand, I can cite studies that confirm my conclusions such as “Virou Regra” by Claudete Alves from 2011, “Nupcialidade da população negra no Brasil” by Elza BERQUÓ from 1987 and Diva Moreira and Adalberto Batista Sobrinho’s “Casamentos inter-raciais: o homem negro e a rejeição da mulher negra” from 1994. These are just a few I can think of off the top of my head but there are also a number of dissertations that have addressed this issue as well.

      I will also mention that I have come across a significant number of black women over the years who simply gave up interest in black men after having been passed over time and again for white women. I have another piece coming up from Salvador, Bahia, in which a black woman notes what she sees happening in the Evangelical churches there that follow the same conclusions of what the studies are showing. Keep in mind that Salvador is a black majority city.

      The articles here are meant to initiate a dialogue on a topic that most black men simply don’t want to discuss. As I’ve written, whenever I see a debate on the topic on Facebook for example, BM are often either silent on the issue or fall into the “love has no color” perspective. Yes, there are BW who also feel this way, but when I come across people who proudly proclaim their preference for partners of their own race, they are usually black women.

      Hope this provides clarity and thanks again for your opinion, comments and questions…

      • Thank you for your responses…. I know youre probably busy so I appreciate taking the time out of your day. I would love to see if you have any posts that exhaustively investigate WM and BW relationships in Brazil from the perspective of social mobility . Honestly, it seems like to me both blk men and women who are famous in Brasil have a preference for white partners as I have very rarely seen one w/o

        I wish we could talk about this more but regardless keep up the great work and I’ll be tuned in

      • Your observation is completely correct! As I wrote, in reality, the vast majority of black women entertainers featured on this blog are also married to white men. But in comparison I would say that you still find more black women among this group married to black men than the black male entertainers married to black women.

        In terms of social mobility, a number of books have already addressed this. Donald Pierson’s “Negroes in Brazil, a Study of Race Contact at Bahia” of 1942 and Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Octavio Ianni’s, “Cor e mobilidade social em Florianopolis” (1960), the reports are the same. There are other books I could recommend as well. Social mobility is completely connected to marrying white. But what Claudete Alves’ study from 2011 shows is that this is becoming the the rule in every social strata.

        This is why, at least for me, the idea of any sort of black power in Brazil is built on a stack of cards because most black Brazilians simply don’t see the importance of this fundamental idea.

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