Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

The rejection of kinky/curly hair: In video, black children make fun of black hair while Neymar spends R$7,000 per month to straighten and care for his

Cabelo de Nati - Neymar - before and afterNote from BW of Brazil: A few weeks ago, I happened to come across a video circulating around social networks. In the clip entitled ‘Menina do cabelo duro’ (Hard-haired girl) appeared two black children, a boy and a girl. In the video, the boy is seen making a mock commercial in which he ridicules the hair of the black girl, who he says hasn’t “combed her hair in three years.” The girl is seen with several accessories in her hair; combs, hair clips, etc.

Scene from video 'Menina de cabelo duro'

Scene from video ‘Menina de cabelo duro’

To illustrate his point, the boy then attempts to run a comb through the girl’s hair and, as the comb won’t go through, the girl’s head bobs to the back. In a mock song, the boy reminds us that the girl, Nati, is neither singer Claudia Leitte, the Dragon Ball character Piccolo, nor the bald, black cross-dressing character Vera Verão.

Here is the video with the transcript below

“We’re here with a girl that hasn’t combed her hair in three years. When she combs her hair do you see the scene here, aren’t you? When she combs her hair this here happens, the comb gets stuck and her head goes to the back. So, I invented a song for her. I’m not Claudia Leite nor Vera Verão, it’s Nati with the big hair. I’m not Claudia Leite nor a lollipop, it’s Nati with the Piccolo big hair. I’m not Claudia Leite nor a hot dog, it’s Nati that fights with the comb. I’m not making a joke, it’s Nati that fights with the straightening iron. Here we are people!”

Singer Claudia Leitte, Dragon Ball character Piccolo and the late actor Jorge Lafond in his character Vera Verão

Singer Claudia Leitte, Dragon Ball character Piccolo and the late actor Jorge Lafond in his character Vera Verão

In relation to the material featured on this blog, numerous posts have provided evidence as to how much black women go through growing up in a Brazil that rejects cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair). Growing up, millions of Afro-Brazilian women go through various stages of dealing with their hair. They use dangerous processes such as the escova progressiva, straightening, and other techniques that lead many to lose their hair. In recent years, with the development of black consciousness and the acceptance of the black aesthetic, countless black women have been transitioning into wearing their hair in a natural hairstyle that Afro-Brazilians call “black power”, derived from the 1970s Black Power Movement in the United States in which many activists wore their hair in large afros. 

In contrast to this expression of the rise of pride in the black aesthetic, futebol superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, (known as simply Neymar), the third richest player in the world, has consistently been the talk of black consciousness circles for his seeming lack of black consciousness. We’ve already discussed the superstar’s opinion on his race, his never having experienced racism, lucrative sport/endorsement contracts and his very white/blond son. The topic of the star’s hair was also one of the topics covered in previous posts and recently a report brought focus back to the futebolista’s tresses. 


Neymar spends R$7,000 a month on hair care: “silkier”

“Neymar is a product. That hair didn’t sell him well,” says the athlete’s hairdresser

Courtesy of iBahia

Neymar has plenty of talent on the field that everyone already knows. But when it comes to vanity, the ace also strives to ‘shine’ wherever he goes. The person responsible for leaving the player’s hair always stylish is the hair stylist Wagner Tenório.

“When Neymar came to me his hair was very damaged. He had done a lot of escova progressiva (Brazilian Keratin treatment) and straightening before, which greatly detonated his hair. Not to mention the discoloration. I had to reduce the length of his hair before starting the treatment,” said the professional to UOL Esporte.

“Today his hair is silkier. Now he’s managing to comb it back. It seems silly, but it’s very important. Neymar is a product. That hair didn’t sell him well,” said Tenório before revealing how much the treatment costs.

“It’s difficult to calculate the price, because it is not a service available to all customers. But I would say that it doesn’t come out to less than 2,000 euros (R$6,700 or US$2,196) per month,” Tenório said.

Note from BW of Brazil: First of all, let us all agree that Neymar, like any other person in the world, is free to do whatever he so chooses with his hair. Even more so for a man whose assets are worth R$445.6 (US$146) million. But in a society where the vast majority of persons, regardless of race, agree that straight hair (even better, blond), is the most appealing, acceptable type of hair. We see evidence of this everywhere; in beer posters, magazine covers, modeling runways, television and just about every other area of society we can verify that the ‘dictatorship of straight hair’ is in full effect in Brazil! And such, we can see a clear connection between the jokes about black hair by the black children and the choice of one of the richest futebol players in the world to not to wear the hair he was born with. 

A young Neymar, seen here with his father

A young Neymar, seen here with his father

Again, it’s Neymar’s personal choice but even so, many people are curious as to the reasons even as many Brazilian futebol players of visible African descent are increasingly choosing to rock their natural locks. Noting this among last year’s black Brazilian national team members, it was quite ironic that the biggest star on the field and arguably Brazil’s only superstar opted not to participate in this display of ‘black power’. Was his hairstylist right? With so many reais, euros and dollars attached to Neymar ‘the product’, could the superstar not afford to be seen on the field and in hundreds of ads with what Brazilians define as ‘cabelo ruim’ (bad hair)? Of course, the hairstylist was referring to the condition of the star’s hair and not necessarily the texture, but as the idea of ‘bad hair’ is so associated with black people in Brazil, it really didn’t matter how he meant it. For most Brazilians, Neymar Junior’s hair would indeed be considered ‘bad’ if he were to wear it the way it was before the fame and fortune. Does anyone really doubt this? Remember what happened when Marcelo made a mistake during the World Cup last year?

17 year old Neymar with his parents after signing a contract with Santos in 2009

17 year old Neymar with his parents after signing a contract with Santos in 2009

Is it possible that at one time in his life, Neymar, like millions of other Afro-Brazilians, was the target of a cruel joke similar to one in the video featuring the two black children? One will note that even before the star left Brazil for greener pastures in European stadiums, the public hasn’t since seen his true roots. Interestingly, the question of Neymar’s race is a frequent key word search when internet users seek information about the Barcelona player. Really? Well allow me to say that if white Russian fans can perceive that another Brazilian star, Hulk, is of mixed African ancestry, I don’t think it would be a stretch of the imagination to think that they also know what they see when they look at Neymar. 

Neymar between his Barcelona teammates

Neymar between his Barcelona teammates

People can’t see the photo above and numerous others online and recognize Neymar for what he is? Even if one prefers to see him as “mixed”, pardo (brown) or simply non-white, for many of us, Neymar’s African ancestry is quite obvious. Perhaps the straight hair, sometimes with blond highlights, is the deciding factor that gives him a more ambiguous appearance for those not familiar with his origins. Perhaps he knew this and decided to distance himself from this clear signal of his origins. 


Often times when persons of visible African descent choose to straighten their hair, the choice is based on personal preference, the issue of rejection of natural black hair in the corporate world or the trends of any particular moment in time. But preferences are often based upon socially-constructed ideals of beauty, and in Western societies African descendants themselves have overwhelmingly adapted to Eurocentric views of beauty, which often times leads to this very group ridiculing itself, again, as we see in the video “menina do cabelo duro”. Let’s be honest about this; if the world were ruled by an African aesthetic instead of a European, wouldn’t it be probable that the 95% of blacks, men and women, would wear their hair in its natural form without having to worry about if it was acceptable? As it would be the norm and the standard of beauty, I would imagine non-blacks attempting to emulate this look. And as such, it would be difficult to imagine a multi-millionaire black male superstar spending so much money to change something he was born with. 

In the end, no one really knows the reasons that Neymar prefers to spend so much money to straighten out his natural curls. That’s his choice and his business. But we also cannot deny how his choice, along with that of millions of others, the dominance of straight hair in the media and the everyday jokes and humiliations about black hair may have contributed to and are symptomatic of the thoughts of black children like those in the video and millions of others all over Brazil. 

Source: UOL

5 comments on “The rejection of kinky/curly hair: In video, black children make fun of black hair while Neymar spends R$7,000 per month to straighten and care for his

  1. interesting
    May 13, 2015

    I was watching Barcelona vs. Bayern with some white friends yesterday and I told them “do you kwon Neymar is black?” to which they responded “well, I know he’s not white, but he doesn’t look black either”. Than I googled some pictures of him from before fame and showed them. Now they said “shit, you’re right, he IS black”. Seems like what he’s doing with his hair is very effective…

  2. Elidnaz
    May 13, 2015

    articles like this prove that black people the world over really do need to stick together, especially black women. I come from Africa, and Lord knows we have our own massive issues, but one thing I know is that the likes of Neymar can straighten their hair, marry white and ‘white’ themselves all they like; end of the day, the world will never see them as white. They will be accepted as long as they can make people money, but their race will never change. We see it with Tiger Woods as well, and the sad thing is that the white club they are trying to join has nothing to do with white people, and everything to do with themselves and their own self-worth.

    The issue of lack of black acceptance used to grind my nerves and really worried me for a minute, then I realised that that won’t help. Best we can do is open up avenues that allow those who accept black as equally beautiful as white (which is a category that includes white people, btw) to be proud. The more we worry about whether Neymar represents is the more we close doors for those who appreciate themselves.

    But all around, great article, and I do hope this situation rights itself in Brazil. In Africa we are seeing a trend of black women embracing black as beautiful and loving their natural hair, opting out of weaves, and although it is refreshing; as someone who has gone natural for over 20 years, I can tell you that it has taken a long time.

    • Chad
      June 23, 2015

      Maybe so but the world will see him as “not as Black” that seems to be good enough for Neymar…

  3. Oliver
    April 23, 2016

    I, like Neymar, am of a mixed race. I’m half black(West African) and half white(Eastern European). Why should I favor any one side over the other? Why should I favor my “blackness” more than my “whiteness”, which is what this article seems to suggest Neymar should do(or doesn’t do, because he straightens his hair??)
    If I decide to get my hair straightened one day, why does that imply I’ve rejected my “blackness”, again, this is the charge leveled at Neymar by this article. What if a white girl with straight hair gets a perm or an afro, is she rejecting her “whiteness”? If Neymar decides to grow curly hair, has he now rejecting his “whiteness”? This article is trying to link hairstyles with racial identity using a mixed race person which doesn’t follow any discernable logic, sorry!

    • Real
      July 25, 2017

      I agree, I think mixed race people should be left out of Afro issues, I thought Brazil had it right with making a distinction between mixed people and African descended people, unlike the US, but it seems it may be becoming like the US and mixed race issues are side-tracking Afro issues. That’s what whites do.

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