Note from BW of Brazil: Today we touch upon a discussion about standards of feminine beauty and popular opinions in the public imagination. Last week, a controversial page on a social network provoked outrage among black Brazilian women who came across the page. In a page that many deemed blatantly racist, “eu não mereço mulher preta” (I don’t deserve a black woman) was taken down by Facebook after numerous complaints about its content. The page blatantly exalted the beauty of white women while simultaneously demeaning black women. The author went on to state something that many black Brazilian women believe to be true also: black Brazilian men prefer white women. The issue is one that fires up any social network debate and is often divisive within black Brazilian social media circles. The debate is usually divided between black women who accuse black men of abandoning them and black men whose overwhelming opinion is that “love has no color” and that deny the accusation.
The debate reminds me of two books written in English about the racial situation in Brazil several years ago. In John Burdick’s Blessed Anastacia, the author reported going to dances in Rio and seeing black girls all dancing together as none of the boys were asking them to dance. “The black funkeiras are always by themselves,” said Carlinha, a teenage preta (black girl), “dancing alone and with each other.” The pattern is not just visible at dances….”It’s hard to stand next to a uma menina mais clara (a lighter girl) at a party. A guy passes by, he looks at you, he looks at her, he says something to her.” Also in Rio, Donna Goldstein reports situations in which people seem to know that dark-skinned blacks are too dark to be considered “Cinderella types” or fashion models, even if no one verbally states this opinion. Here is the crux of the issue. In Brazil, as the media is dominated by the European standard of beauty, it’s not hard to tell that the European phenotype is considered more physically attractive by a majority of the population regardless of race, even if people don’t acknowledge this sentiment verbally. This is after all the same country where hardly anyone admits to being personally racist although they all seem to know persons who are racist.
But is the European standard in fact proof of superiority or is this yet another example of a standard imposed by the media that has such a powerful influence on popular opinion? While you ponder this question, consider the popularity of cosmetic surgery among women of Asian descent who want to look more Caucasian and the skin bleaching phenomena in Nigeria, Jamaica and other countries. Also consider the upsurge in deaths resulting from illegal silicone butt injections or breast augmentation surgeries, which one of every three Brazilian women have considered. Which leads us to two more questions. 1) How do people form their ideals of beauty and an ongoing obsessive pursuit of physical perfection? And 2) Would preferences be different if the public were consistently bombarded with media images of another race of women, black or Asian for example?
Throughout the material below, be sure to note snapshots of Google searches using the words atrizes brasileiras (Brazilian actresses), propagandas cerveja (beer ads), apresentadoras brasileiras (Brazilian female hosts) and modelos brasileiras (Brazilian models) to get an idea of what (skin color) one sees in image searches. In the two pieces below, we present two sides of the debate. One from presumably a male in his defense of white women being “aesthetically superior” while the second approaches this standard according to its affects on black women. Just for clarity, both essays are authored COMPLETELY by the writers.
Are white women aesthetically superior to others?
Courtesy of Pobre da Tommy Hilfiger
Undoubtedly white women have more sexual prominence to the male audience than the others. But this is denied due to the standard of the politically correct. It is a reality that is in the face all the time and nobody comments (on it). White women activate more sexual desire of men. Men have a violent thing for white women. The exhibitionist white woman attracts the eyes of many more men than other women of different races who are also exhibitionists. White women have a “price” much higher than the others on the sexual market. It is the white woman who has the greatest feminine power in the sexual market!
A white woman is who meets the standards “fitness” of contemporary society where the central existential goal of young people is to be the gostosão (hunk) or the gostosona (hottie). She is even more desired, loved, valued than any other to the male world. A white woman gets promoted in an absurd manner in society. Basically, all women know that an attractive white woman has sexual superiority over the others. The female superiority is perceived by women as a greater sexual power. Sexual power is everything for modern women. Therefore, the sexual superiority of the white woman annoys many!
White women with an incremented body, usually has a happier love life than the others. They are happier in the exercise of exhibitionist self-assertion. The white woman promotes “amorous” inequality precisely because she is the center of love and sexuality of men!
But as everything has exceptions, I will point out some examples in which the white woman is seen as trash for men.
1) Fat: Fat people are repulsive in a general context. Therefore, the fat white woman is not desired and loved. Or they are wanted and loved by poor men and those of insufficient beauty.
2) Short: Height is also critical in the female world although this is far more destructive for a man. If you are a white woman and you are short, 1.68m (5’7”) or shorter you will not be so exalted sexually equally to a taller woman. Tall and gostosa (hot/tasty) white women humiliate them!
3) Single Mother: It’s no good being very white, gym body gostosinha but are a single mother. A young woman with child is looked down upon genetically by men.
These are some exceptions that affect the white woman in the question of power of attraction.
White women usually meet the sexual/hormonal interest and the genetic interest of man much more efficiently than the others. Beautiful and tasty branquinhas (white girls) satisfy the hormonal and genetics demand of the man. Men overestimate the “monogamous” standard and the biological standard with white women.
Among other examples that white women are an obsession for most men:
During college, which is the girl who is most widely spoken of in the social circle of the boys? The WHITE girl.
In the favela (slum), when a WHITE girl appears, she is the most competed for among the thugs and drug dealers in the area. In university environments, which is the physical profile of the woman who is the center of attention of young scholars? The WHITE woman. When a man becomes rich or famous it’s the WHITE WOMAN with whom most of them seek to have a relationship.
The truth is wide open for all to see. The white woman is more valued, loved and desired by most men!!
The truth is that with the sexual revolution and the opening of female freedom it’s obvious the preference of men for white women. The white woman is always the first option of amorous choice of men. The attractive white woman represents sexual elitism for most men. The beautiful white woman possesses the primacy in the system! A white woman only descends from the top of the male sex drive when she is destroyed by aging!
The standards of femininity and the black woman
By Jarid Arraes
Although progress is slow, discussions about the standard of beauty in our culture have been increasingly frequent. There is increasing criticism of the increasing amount of plastic surgery and its relation to gordofobia (fat-phobia) and the unattainable fantasy of the female body without stretch marks and cellulite. However, certain troublesome points still need to be raised: it is necessary to discuss the depth of aesthetic racism and its consequences for black women.
Girls grow up inserted into a culture that teaches them to admire the Disney princesses, Barbie and other thin, white characters that wind up in happy endings of prosperity. Many fantasize that they are one of those princesses, wish to own related toys and products and, of course, aim to become physically similar. The problem is that the standard of beauty perpetuated by these figures starts a kind of indoctrination that from an early age teaches gender stereotypes based in sexism and racism.
As much the princesses of the past as the newer princesses have many things in common: big eyes, long eyelashes, pink lips, flushed cheeks, thin noses, silky hair flying in the wind in a mesmerizing way. Not coincidentally, this female representation is not limited to the infant universe, repeating itself also in adulthood, often present in fashion catalogs, television advertisements, movies and novelas (soap operas). Most actresses considered beautiful have long hair of a smooth texture, delicate facial features and behavior that varies from the sweet to the sensual, like many animated female characters of made for the children’s audience.
What may end up going unnoticed, however, is that the standard of beauty is not only bad for creating a form of the best physical appearance in which all women should fit. The culture of white and thin beauty also creates and disseminates gender standards full of clichés and sexist paradigms: women absorb that they need to be “feminine” and therefore must have a physical appearance that “exudes” this femininity. While for a white woman there are more possibilities of falling into some of the requirements, for a black woman, her social position will be summarily distinct.
One could say that all black women have painful memories of childhood and adolescence. Black girls and young women assimilate that they are “different” and suffer from not feeling beautiful – often to the point of not even managing to identify with the experience of “being a woman”. It turns out that because of cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair), a broad nose and dark skin, society doesn’t expect from black women any expression of tenderness or weakness, traits considered typically female. People watch – as much on television as in real life – that the body of the black woman is reduced to sexual exploitation and physical labor and these are the values that they reproduce.
Effectively, the fantasies of Western femininity correspond only to white women. The myths of beauty and feminine fragility, for example, are internalized in our minds from the media vehicles. The media bombards audiences of all ages with the idea of the passionate female figure that, with her irresistible beauty, is saved by a gentleman with acts of heroism. Even the most subtle aspects influence our perception of gender roles, including not only the physical type or dress so recurrent in the female characters, but also the personality and how it is expressed; how the eyes blink, swinging hair in the wind or wiggling and put the hand on the waist re-enforces an extremely macho frame of femininity, which in most cases is also racist and excludes black women in its representation.
It is not that gentle or delicate women are outside of the scope of reality, or even that white women also don’t suffer from the standard of beauty. But it is necessary to deepen our gender analysis more. Few people expect a black woman who works as a maid will correspond to a role of gender fragility – on the contrary, what is considered “normal” is that she has rough hands, even being an individual of the female sex. Although the concept of femininity is limiting and sexist, we must ask: why is the expected standard of gender of a black woman different from that of a white woman?
Femininity is still a confusing stereotype and its roots remain strong and influential. The truth is that any attempt to divide the world into male and female social roles is sexist; to expect that men and women have certain behaviors because of their gender corresponds to an immobilization of human autonomy. The solution is not to multiply the forms for all women, but to deconstruct the concepts of femininity and female beauty – always remembering that it is essential to focus attention on racism in the inquiries about aesthetic standards.
Source: Pobre do Tommy Hilfiger, Revista Fórum, Burdick, John. Blessed Anastacia: Women, Race and Popular Christianity in Brazil. Routledge, 1998. Goldstein, Donna. Laughter Out of Place: Race, Class, Violence, and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown. University of California Press, 2003