Note from BW of Brazil: Afro-Brazilian activists have long argued that Brazil has the largest population of black people outside of the African continent. And this would be true if one accepts the idea that Brazil’s pretos e pardos (black and browns) make up the black population as these categories make up 104-108 million people depending on estimates that they are 51-53% of Brazil’s 205 million people. But looking at advertisements in the street or at any store or shopping mall, go to any magazine stand or toy store or watch any television channel in the country and you would wonder how this could possibly be true. That’s because Brazil has always and continues to only present its citizens on the whiter scale of skin colors to represent the country in terms of what the “average Brazilian” looks like. This exclusivity of phenotype representation can even be noted in the cosmetics industry where millions of black women have trouble finding adequate products to enhance their natural beauty. But as in other areas, Afro-Brazilian women are taking things into their own hands and pushing for the changes they desire to see.
Now, anyone reading today’s material could just minimize the question of makeup options as something frivolous that doesn’t really matter in the struggle for black equality and representation. But to understand the importance of the issue, look at it from another perspective: If Afro-Brazilians are invisible in a seemingly unimportant area that is connected to personal vanity, where else are they invisible or under-represented?
Finally! The nude lipstick that every black woman has been waiting for
By Tuka Pereira
The beauty industry has always been shaped based on the mulher caucasiana (Caucasian woman). To be certain of this, you just have to look for a flesh colored blouse in any store and come across pieces that are only suitable for those with a fair skin color.
The makeup also doesn’t escape this ‘rule’. Most of the products available contemplate mulheres brancas (white women). So much so that a group of black entrepreneurs from Brasília decided to do their part and launched the “Afrô Box” a subscription club that offers products exclusively aimed at black women.
Now another initiative adds to the inclusion of the black woman in the universe of beauty: the ideal nude lipstick.
Blogger Rosangela Silva, one of the pioneers in black beauty on Youtube, creator of Negra Rosa channel, has just launched her own brand of lipsticks. In an interview with Mundo Negro website, she explained that the goal is to create a product focused on black women, something that usually doesn’t happen.
The line so far has three lipsticks perfect for black women and among them is the nude of your dreams. The products were given African feminine names: the marrom (brown) “Kinah”, the vermelho (red) “Badu” and the cinza (gray) “Makena” which means, respectively: obstinate, powerful and happy.
Lipsticks are available for sale on the brand’s website. The kit with the three products costs R$69,90 and the value of each lipstick sold alone is R$ 24.90.
All Photos © Negra Rosa
“We want representation beyond a shampoo commercial”
Blogger Rosangela J. Silva is our first interviewee in the Black Consciousness Special.
By Gabriela Malta (photo: Carolina Horita)
On November 20 the Day of Black Consciousness is celebrated. To reinforce the importance of this date, this month, Claudia sought out black women opinion makers and campaigners to discuss issues such as cultural appropriation, racism and representation. As a result, we’re launching a series of interviews on the importance of increasing the discussion of racial issues in Brazil.
The interview that inaugurates our series is with Rosangela J. Silva. A blogger and YouTuber, she was dissatisfied with the lipstick options available in the market and therefore launched a collection especially developed for black skin tones in September this year. In addition, on her YouTube channel Negra Rosa, released in August 2010, she discusses issues such as estética e empoderamento da mulher negra (aesthetics and empowerment of black women).
How did you come up with the idea to create a YouTube Channel?
RJS: Until 2009, I straightened my hair with chemicals, using a procedure called relaxamento (relaxing). But it made my hair so damaged that it was never longer than shoulder length. My scalp was also hurt. Faced with so much damage, I decided to cut my hair very short – a corte joãozinho (boy cut) as we called it – to get the hair totally without chemicals. Since then, I haven’t straightened it anymore and I have been learning to care for my curls. But all the content I saw on hair without chemicals, low poo and no poo was in English.
Then, in 2010, the idea came about to set up the blog and video channel to share with Brazilian girls everything I learned. When I started, I found just four more black Brazilian girls on YouTube: Patricia Avelino, Fabiana Lima, Cinthya Rachel and Fernnandah Crilora. Six years later, we still do not have the same space or the same visibility of other YouTubers, but the number of black women on the platform has grown a lot. Today I can cite more than 25 channels.
Do you believe that a YouTube channel really contributes to the question of representativeness?
It contributes a lot, since on television and in advertising we still don’t see many black women. On YouTube, this representation is larger, we see women with various skin tones, various types of hair. You look at this variety and recognize yourself there. Women are looking at the computer screen and seeing people like them.
When I was dissatisfied with my hair, I searched the internet and saw that several women were already wearing their natural hair. Orkut had a community that focused on women with cabelos cacheados (curly hair) and on YouTube I saw videos of mulheres negras americanas (black American women). All this information showed me that it was possible to get rid of chemicals. Today, girls already see their cabelo crespo (curly/kinky hair) differently and feel like knowing their hair. I came to know mine at 29 years, only.
In your opinion, has our society made progress on the question of representativeness?
We advance when we compare the current scenario to what it was a few years ago, but we can’t stagnate. It’s no use putting a black woman in the shampoo commercial and thinking it’s good. We want and need representation within companies, working in them, occupying positions with power of decision. In a society as multiple as ours, if there is no diversity, someone is being harmed, someone is failing to reach those places.
Is there a way to move forward? Which would that be?
Quit with the speech and move on to action. I understand quotas as a means of guaranteeing access to these positions of decision that I mentioned earlier. In order to understand the quotas, it is necessary to understand how the liberation of the enslaved people in the seventeenth century didn’t guarantee these people the right to study. Structural racism prevents blacks from reaching certain places, and the university is one of them. The cotistas (quota students) perform well, so it’s not a question of disability, it’s a lack of opportunity.
And you’ve created a line of lipsticks for black women. What motivated you?
The focus of the brand is to think and develop products for those black skin tones that are neglected. The best-known brands are advancing, releasing lines that match more skin tones, but the variety is still not enough and people can’t find the ideal skin tone.
I really like makeup, especially lipstick, and talking to my friends I commented that, because of the size of my channel [more than 27,000 subscribers], it would be very difficult for brands to contact me for product development partnerships. Among my friends was Ana, who is my partner today, and we had the idea of creating our own line of makeup that focused on the black woman. Our differential is exactly the look of a black woman – I already have experience with makeup and I know what doesn’t work and what can look beautiful.
Not that white people can’t wear my lipsticks! They can experiment and see if it works for them as well. We black women use makeup that was not developed for us all the time.
Do you believe that creating a line of lipsticks targeted at people with black skin can provoke some social change?
Yes! In the reports that came out about the lipsticks, I saw comments from people happy about the creation of a brand by a black woman. After so many years following me through the channel, people feel somehow part of it and represented by me. There is also the question of seeing a black woman in a position of command. I own a brand, it gives an incentive for other women to believe in their dreams. Of course the opportunity appeared to me, but I didn’t give up on moving forward. This can give strength to others who want to start a business of their own.