Miss Brasil 2016, Raissa Santana, speaks of fear of competing in beauty contest because of being black; only three black women have earned the crown in 64 years
In a recent appearance on a late night show, Raissa Santana spoke of expectations of competing for crown that until 2016, only one black woman had ever worn
Photos courtesy of Programa do Porchat
2016 and 2017 were historic years for black women in the Miss Brasil competition. You see, since 1954, only one black woman had ever been crowned Miss Brasil. That was in 1986 when Deise Nunes from the state of Rio Grande do Sul took the title. But then, after 62 years of only one black woman ever winning, and thirty since Nunes captured the crown, in 2016, Raissa Santana won Miss Brasil in a contest which made the history books for yet another reason. That year, a record-breaking six black women competed for the title. In 2017, Monalysa Alcântara captured the title and went down in history as the first time in the history of the contest that a black women earned the right to be called Miss Brasil for two years in a row.
In a recent appearance (7/19) on the late night talk show, Programa do Porchat, Santana remembered being afraid of competing in the contest because she was black. And why wouldn’t she be? For more than six decades, Miss Brasil has made it obvious that it prefers that the most beautiful woman of Brazil be white. Not only have the winners been overwhelmingly white, but so have the nearly 30 women that compete in the contest year after year. Raissa admitted that the reasoning for her fear was the very low representation of black women in the competition.
Speaking to host Fábio Porchat, Raissa remembered the pressure she felt about her performance in the competition.
“It was kind of difficult for me. A very big crowd was gathered. A very big expectation on me and it was a little heavy.”
Raissa recalled that, even though 2016 saw a record-breaking number of women who looked like her competing for the title, she noted that there was still a fear among the black women at her side of not meeting the chosen “standard” of beauty.
“It was six black girls. This comes from a very big change in society. And the girls, sometimes, were a little afraid to participate because of that, of that standard; always the same standard of beauty. I had this fear when I participated. Most of the girls did.”
Brazil’s television networks themselves have long been guardians of this whiteness as standard ideology, including Rede Record TV, the network that broadcasts the Programa do Porchat. Even so and not being sure why, host, actor/comedian Fábio Porchat, even brought the topic up seeing that his network itself upholds such a standard, this is the second time he has been bold enough to approach the topic in recent months. Back in April, Porchat also asked popular TV host Xuxa about why her popular children’s program never featured a black girl in the wildly successful female singing troupe known as the Paquitas that frequently appeared on the show.