American “men’s entertainment” magazine targeted at black men on sale at Brazilian bookstore.

SMOOTH magazine on sale in the Livraria Cultura bookstore
American magazine SMOOTH on sale in the Livraria Cultura bookstore

Note from BW of Brazil: Perusing through a popular Brazilian bookstore recently I came across the popular “men’s entertainment” magazine SMOOTH. The magazine is very popular among African-American men and every month features articles about electronics, films, clothes, automobile accessories, music, etc. The main attraction for this magazine is, of course, the vast assortment of mostly women of color,  scantily clad, featured in full color photo layouts and in interviews. The women are often video models and dancers featured in the latest Hip Hop/R&B music videos.

Retail price of magazine set at R$55.95
Retail price of magazine set at R$55.95

American and other foreign magazines in Brazilian bookstores is nothing new. In any well-stocked bookstore, one can routinely buy an assortment of well known American, French, Spanish and German magazines. What’s interesting about finding something like SMOOTH is that it is a magazine that prominently features women of color, generally African-Americans and Latinas, in every issue. This is a sharp contrast to Brazil that has a huge population of African descendant (preta/black and parda/brown) women. But as this blog has consistently shown, they are generally invisible in Brazil’s TV and print media. Magazines of this sort generally feature white women or women that North American and European men would consider to be Latinas, meaning women who are not exactly white but light enough that they also wouldn’t be classified as black. In case you forgot or thought the images featured week after week, month after month and year after year on Brazilian magazine covers have changed, check the photo below.

Magazine layout from the week ending July 20, 2013
Magazine layout from the week ending July 20, 2013

Note that the only black face on all of the covers of the magazines was the recently defeated mixed martial arts fighter Anderson Silva, who was the subject of a “blackfaced” roasting after his loss a few weeks ago. There was only one SMOOTH magazine that I found in the bookstore that day and it was selling for a retail price of R$55.95, meaning nearly 56 Brazilian reais. As the Brazilian real to American dollar exchange rate was about $2.24 last week, this means that one copy of SMOOTH was selling for an equivalent of about 25 American dollars. A bit pricey for one magazine.

Here’s the question. There are many women who see these types of magazines as sexist, exploitative representations of women that maintain the image of women as nothing more than sexual fodder rather than complete human beings. Others believe sensuality and sexuality can co-exist in the media in the proper context. There are those who say black women shouldn’t care that less than 10 black women have ever been featured on the cover of the Brazilian edition of Playboy magazine in more than 35 years. But there are also those who want the world to know that black women are beautiful and sexy as any other race of women. More still. It’s very common to hear a Brazilian say that their country has the “most beautiful black/mulata women in the world”. If that were true, where are they in the media? On the other hand, black Brazilian feminists repudiate the representation of black women in a sensuous manner as the Brazilian “mulata” has historically been presented in a sexual manner in advertisements to attract male tourists in search of cheap, easy sex to the country. Wherever you stand on this issue, it seems a bit odd at the least and extremely racist at the most that a country where about 50 million women define themselves as non-white are regularly invisible on the thousands of magazine stands one sees throughout the country.

What’s your take on this topic? Feel free to leave a comment.

About Marques Travae 2897 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

7 Comments

  1. US Playboy is featured one or two Black Women every year and several on their web site.

    I am not saying we have figured out White Supremacy in America but White men find (just as they did in the slave days in Brazil) acceptable to view Black women as sex objects and nothing else.

    Which dovetails nicely with your recent post about the racial outburst from a “White” Brazilian to a Afro-Brazilian women to rejecting him online.

    The biggest difference is in US and UK its less likely for a White male to marry a Black woman, its far more likely for them to marry Latins (some White skin, some Morena, some Dark) and Asians (usually White skin, sometimes medium like what’s typically found in Southeast Asia) before they will consider Black women.

    But they way Black American women tell it, you think the next big coming is White men marrying Black women.

    Highly unlikely

    • Well since the Black men do not want to marry them the Black women have to dream of SOMEONE marrying them since your precious fellow Black men do not want to. Chew on that. and save your anti-lack female hipocracy. Gotta a lott anerve talking about who White men will “marry” and “see as sex objects” when you belong to a group famous WORLDWIDE for not liking your own women. Black women are the VICTIMS of your bull.

    • actually due to the increasing educations of american bw, bw/wm relations are the fastest growing in the usa. you sound bitter towards bw in your posts here and other articles. such a short life to be so angry all the time.

  2. That “80/most Black men marry Black women stat is VERY misleading. First of all, MANY of those Black women that these men are marrying are light-skinned or mixed, which leaves what MOST Black women look like out in the cold. Second of all, many of those Black marriage stats are for OLD couples or couples who have been married since the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, or what have you, so they do NOT nate relevance to the state of NEW/CURRENT Black marriages as they stand. Listen to what young Black women are saying about how Black males are IGNORING them in favor of White/other non-Black women. Black marriage in US was a FRAUD illusion because of /strict interracial taboosheavy segregation/Jim Crow, which FORCED those Black men to stay with Black women. Now that strict interracial taboos/heavy segregation/Jim Crow are pretty much dead in US, these Black men are showing how they REALLY feel about Black women, which is that they HATE them.

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