Note from BW of Brazil: Number 28 in our series, Faces of Afro-Brazil, we present to you the images and story of Verônica Lidugério. Verônica appreciated having discovered the Black Women of Brazil site and decided to share her story. Her story is precisely the reason for the existence of this blog. In a brief life trajectory below, she highlights how she struggled with her identity and her natural hair texture. As we have shown throughout the existence of this blog in the stories of countless women (and a few men), deeply ingrained Eurocentric standards of beauty within Brazilian society have indoctrinated millions of people into believing that they have “bad hair” and that having (visible) African ancestry is something to hide or be ashamed of. She was one of the millions of women who was a slave to hair straightening techniques until she came into a phase of self-discovery and acceptance. With this new identity, she, like many other Afro-Brazilian women, abandoned those straightening procedures for a more natural look. Two of the photos she included represent her after she stopped straightening her hair and a third represents her hair during her straightening phase. Enjoy her brief story and understand why we must continue publishing stories like hers.
My name is Verônica, I’m 30 and I’m married and I would like to share a bit of my story with you. I have a degree in Business Administration, have worked as a financial analyst and my last job was in financial coordination, obtaining great knowledge in the finance area of the construction industry.
The first change occurred in the preparations for my wedding when I made several wedding arrangements with my own hands and had much pleasure in this task. Then, I took some jewelry design classes and loved the possibility of creating jewelry with my own hands. Later, I learned about a paste, called polymer clay, here in Brazil it’s known as cerâmica plástica and it was love at first sight. Learning to construct adornments with this material is fascinating! I always loved learning about other cultures and ethnicities, and I like to express it in my accessories. And I was realizing, through my quest in learning about other cultures, that I hid my identity, my essence, my African ancestry, belonging to my “vô Zé (Grandpa Zé)”.
Since I was little, I heard in my family that we have a clear “cabelo ruim (bad hair)” and it was “vô Zé’s” fault and we always wanted to have cabelo da vovó (grandmother’s hair), for it was straight, our índio puri (Puri Indian) (1) ancestry. And so I was spending my life, always straightening my hair and at other times wearing mega hair (weave), always seeking to embranquecer (whiten) (myself), hiding in some way my raiz crespa (curly/kinky roots), because I would not be accepted by society with the hair I had, even within my family.
At 30 years of age, finally I affirm my African identity, I wear my hair crespo, natural. I’m loving my hair, loving myself. Loving my people who came from Africa and that contributed to my creation, my DNA, my color which is a mixture: the negro (black), branco (white) and índio (Indian), I’m parda (brown), I’m yellow, a mixture of colors…After this reunion with myself, I wanted to portray that multicultural essence in my accessories, and created my accessory brand: “Garota Sarará (2) Acessórios Culturais (Sarará Girl Cultural Accessories) where I create pieces in polymer clay pieces with an ethnic imprint. I say with pride that I am the first woman in my family to not relax or straighten my hair, I hope I’m not the only one and that we are proud of our African ancestry.
I hope you enjoyed the little story about the search for my African identity, I always get emotional knowing my essence and I know that the search has only begun … 🙂
Name: Verônica Lidugério
Place of birth: Campos dos Goytacazes, state of Rio de Janeiro/I live in the city of Rio de Janeiro
Occupation: Business Administrator, with a degree from UERJ. Current Occupation: Clay Design (Polymer Clay/Cerâmica plástica)
1. The puris, also called telikong and paqui, were a Brazilian native Indian group, speaker of a language group of the macro-jê linguistic branch that inhabited the states of Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when they were decimated and intermingled with Luso-Brazilian settlers. They were also called coroados. Source
2. 1. “Sarará” is a term used to describe persons with white or light skin, but with characteristics of the black race in their face, hair, mouth, etc. The term is from the Tupi (Brazilian Indian) language. “Sara-ra” meaning he/she “that has red hair.” In Brazil, the word “sarará” would go on to identify mulatos or mestiços (persons of mixed race) with auburn or reddish cabelos crespos (curly/kinky hair). Sarará in the diminutive form would be sararazinha, meaning “little sarará.” Source. For more on racial classifications in Brazil, see here.