Note from BW of Brazil: What the….?!?!?! How did this contest creep up on me and I didn’t even see it? I have to admit, when I received this news in one of my social networks, I thought, “How can this be? A year couldn’t have passed by that quick!!” (Also, this year, there was nowhere near as much buzz for the contest as it was last year) As it turns out, I was right about that, as it’s only August and last year’s Miss Brasil winner was crowned last October, so she didn’t even wear the crown for a full year. But it did catch by surprise that they would crown another Afro-Brazilian woman Miss Brasil so soon. I mean, lest not forget, until last year, one hadn’t won since 1986 and that year was the first time in more than 30 years. But I still stick to what I said last year. Allow me to quote myself:
“before we go too far in our celebration, let us remember that this is simply one small step. We still have a LLOONNGG ways to go for black Brazilians to be represented in the same proportion of which they make up the overall Brazilian population. And this writer has no reason to believe that Brazil’s media will easily relinquish the adoration of white women as the standard of beauty any time soon.”
With the crowning of the new winner of the 2017 winner of Miss Brasil, this means that a black woman has won the competition for two years straight! In others words, in two years, more black women have been crowned Miss Brasil than in the previous 61 years! Who-da thunk it? I certainly wouldn’t have, considering Brazil’s record of always presenting its more European-looking citizens in the media spotlight. But on the other hand, true to form, even crowning another black woman, there still weren’t as many black competitors this year as there were last year when a record six black women competed for the crown.
As a matter of fact, one could argue that, according to the representatives chosen from the 26 Brazilian states and one Federal District, the preference for fair skin continues to dominate when the topic is standards of beauty. Am I exaggerating? Well, let’s take a look at the competitors from this year’s contest.
As we can see, even with there being a few visibly Afro-Brazilian women among the 27 women, how many do you see that have darker skin? Most of the black women that you see here, including the winner herself from the state of Piauí, have skin tones that don’t break from the fair skinned aesthetic.
In fact, all told, there is actually only one black woman who has skin that is dark enough in which she stands out from the rest of the women, and she apparently straightens her hair. Not to judge her at all, but one has to wonder if already having dark skin, Miss Rio de Janeiro felt that she wouldn’t have a chance if she had dark skin AND natural hair. Miss Piauí and Miss São Paulo have hair textures that could be described as cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) but they both have fair skin.
Of the rest of the women, many are white and others have a look in which one would really have to analyze more photos of them to determine whether they would be considered black or the light-skinned Latina type. And again, we have fair skin women representing northeastern states where there is an abundance of dark skin (such as Bahia – again – Maranhão, Pernambuco, Minas Gerais or Alagoas.
Ahh Brazil. As the saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same! But anyway, congratulations are in order for Miss Piauí, Monalysa Alcântara, a record-breaking second straight black woman and third overall to be crowned Miss Brasil!
Representative of Piauí is elected Miss Brazil 2017
The Piauiense (native of the state of Piauí) Monalysa Alcântara was the winner of the Miss Brasil Be Emotion 2017 contest, held on Saturday in Ilhabela, located in the state of São Paulo. In second place was the gaúcha (native of the state of Rio Grande do Sul) Juliana Mueller and in third was the candidate from the state of Espírito Santo, Stephany Pim.
Receiving the crown from Raissa Santana, Miss Brazil 2016 representing the state of Paraná, Monalysa maintains the title among black women. Although it has happened for two consecutive years, it is only the third time that a black candidate has won the contest.
In one of the stages, when she had 30 seconds to talk about what her “reign” would be like, the Piauí native said she wanted, through her history, to “help mulheres negras (black women) to see themselves as beautiful and show that they are capable of following their own dreams.”
Rio Grande do Sul is the state with the highest number of titles in Miss Brasil. 13 winners have come from the state: the first one in 1956, with Maria José Cardoso, and the last one in 2015, with Marthina Brandt. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais tie in the vice-leader of the ranking, with eight winners each. Monalysa is the first woman from Piauí to receive the title.
The Miss Universe, the world stage of the contest, will be held in January 2018, still without a host country and date set.
Note from BW of Brazil: In the piece below, that appeared online shortly after Monalysa took the crown in her state, we see that growing up, she faced many of the same challenges facing Afro-Brazilian women living in a racist, class-oriented country. Seeing few women who look like her competing in competitions like Miss Brasil, having been indoctrinated into believing that she was not pretty and rejecting her natural hair texture.
Granddaughter of coconut breaker Miss Piaui 2017 tells of her trajectory from humble childhood to coronation
In an interview with Portal AZ, Monalysa Alcântara tells her life story, dreams and plans for the future.
By Marta Alencar
Miss Piauí Be Emotion 2017 Monalysa Alcântara told her life story, such as the loss of her father when she was five years old, her dream of being a teacher and company administrator, as well as her adventures in Piauí. The new Miss also spoke of her plans for the final phase of the Miss Brasil, which takes place next month in São Paulo.
Despite having achieved the title of Miss Piauí Be Emotion 2017, the young Monalysa Alcântara, only 18 years old, hasn’t forgotten her origins. Even walking high-up on the catwalks, the Miss doesn’t give up walking barefoot on the beaten floor and in the woods when she visits União, the city where her father was born.
Courage, determination, and strength are qualities she claims to have inherited from her father, who passed away when Monalysa was five years old. And it is his characteristics, besides the desire to make a difference, which the young woman declares will lead her to the final phase of the Miss Brasil, to be held on August 19, in Ilhabela, on the north coast of São Paulo, and will be broadcast by Band TV.
Born in Teresina, Monalysa currently resides in the neighborhood of São Cristovão, on the east side. Her dream of being a model emerged in childhood, but the desire to shine as Miss was born in her teens. “I’ve always wanted to be a model. Even as the dream of being Miss was a distant dream in childhood. Because you didn’t see many black women participating in beauty contests at the time, that’s why I did not really believe that one day I would participate and have a chance to win. At that stage, I also felt very ugly and didn’t like my hair and my thinness. And because of that, I received many nicknames. But it was in my teens that things changed and I assumed my cachos (curls) and my personality. And I sought in fashion, a refuge and a door. And at the age of 16, I began to study, to like beauty contests and walk on the catwalks,” she says.
During the competition for the handing over of the state title promoted by the Band Piauí TV network, Monalysa declared that through the history and the victory of Raíssa Santana in Miss Brasil 2016, she felt motivated to participate in the contest. “If you had such a long period for a black woman to become a Miss Brasil (Raissa was the second black woman to win the contest in history. More than 30 years ago, Deise Nunes won the title and became the first black Miss Brazil), taking into account that the majority of the population is black, there’s still something wrong there and it needs to be changed. It’s not that when I participate I’ll have some kind of quota or favor, I’m not saying that. And when I heard Raíssa tell her story, I and so many other girls recognized each other. I believe that now I can fight equally with the other candidates. And that was one of the reasons I participated in the contest,” she says.
Attributes of the Miss
Even with the death of his father at the age of five, Monalysa says people still praise her character and personality. “My father is my reference. Of course, my mother was and is important to me. She is a lumber supervisor and has many qualities, such as a very strong force, and that has helped her support her children. My father, I hear a lot still today, how honest, simple, humble and how he helped people. And I don’t forget those characteristics, just to base himself on them and pride himself wherever he was. Because I feel so many of his stories, (it’s like) he didn’t die, you know ?! Because we have many things in common, like color. And that’s why I always tried to get inspired by him,” she said.
Still according to the young woman, the family has always taught her to have tenacity, focus and not give up on dreams. “My family is a great example that I can never give up. And that if you are poor it doesn’t not mean that you can’t ‘rise’ and win in life. My father came from a poor interior and that only now has energy arrived there. My father had the opportunity to win, joined a family, as a child, focused on the area of law, and he studied hard, worked and entered the civil police. He was the proof that you have to battle. My father’s family was very large and very poor. My grandmother was a babassu coconut breaker, and my grandfather was a security guard for a school in Teresina. And it was when my father decided to change his reality and came to Teresina, where he was adopted by his godparents. And here he was able to improve his life and be able to help my uncles. To this day my uncles are very grateful for what my father did for them.”
Monalysa dreams of being a teacher
From the example and the overcoming of her father, Monalysa declares that she has always believed in education and therefore hopes to one day be a teacher. “I believe in education and I believe it can save Brazil. Of course, that dream was dropped at this time, because I’m focused on other projects, but it’s my dream and I still want to work with it and bring knowledge to many people. And I think that being a Miss I can take that too,” she said. The young woman is already admitted in the course of Business Administration and believes that the area is essential for life. “It’s a course that will help me a lot, mainly because I plan to build my own and work with beauty. Also because I want to learn as much to run my business as my life,” she adds.
The beauty from Piauí speaks on how she maintains her beauty and spends up to two hours taking care of her hair
The beauty and charm of the mulher negra (black woman) distributed in a sculptural body of 58kg (128 lbs.) and 1.77m (5’9 1/2″). And it was these physical attributes, besides the beautiful smile, that made the Teresina native stand out in front of the other finalists in the state dispute. That’s why as for beauty tips, Monalysa confesses that she spends more than two hours caring for her hair.
“If there’s one thing I know and I like to do is take care of my hair. Sometimes I take one or even two hours, just taking care of the hair and I don’t get tired of doing it. Because my hair is a way of expressing myself. So I always look for creams for cabelos cacheados (curly hair) to moisturize it a bit. Because hydration is life, mainly because of our climate. In addition, I use oils to balance oiliness and specific products,” she says.
But she adds that she does not use a comb for her hair. “I use the fork comb (pick) to give it volume, but the comb itself I don’t use because it breaks the curly hair too much. I use my fingers and some techniques that I learned with the YouTube tutorials. So I tell the girls to follow these tutorials to have healthy hair.”
Miss Piauí 2017 also says that she drinks a lot of liquid and that she is always careful to remove her makeup to keep her skin healthy. “It is very important to take care of the skin, like the lips. I confess I did not have this habit of moisturizing my lips.”
From the title of Miss Piaui, Monalysa Alcântara declares that she didn’t have time to rest. “I’ve still been at a loss since the confinement. And now I have made a battery of visits and several interviews. And all this is important for spreading and to unite Piauí in this battle. Because I believe that I will only play a good role in the final phase of Miss Brasil, if I count on the unity and strength of my state. Of course, there are still other questions, such as English courses, oratory training, a lot of research and more understanding of current affairs in the country. My preparation is based on this,” she says.
When asked about her best quality, Monalysa declares that she is not wanting to be like other people and making a difference. “I’ve always liked being different and making a difference. Do something new and innovate.” Meanwhile, her biggest defect is forgetfulness. “I forget many objects, but I’m very determined and I like to learn, so that’s why I decided to buy an agenda so I don’t forget anything else,” she confesses.
The Miss is also inspired by the model of the Victoria’s Secrets international brand, Laís Ribeiro, who is also from Piauí. She also enjoys listening to rapper Karol Conka, practicing volleyball and eating Maria Isabel (see note one).
- Maria Isabel is a typical food from the northeast and center-west region of Brazil, which consists of a mixed rice with dried meat. It’s also served with banana farofa.