Silvia Novais, 25, is a winner: she was elected Miss Campinas and then Miss São Paulo of 2009 and is the current Miss Italia nel Mondo – a contest that chooses the most beautiful woman of Italian descent around the world. She won the title in July of 2011. The jury that elected Silvia last year, incidentally included French film icon Gerard Depardieu and the famous Italian presenter Carlo Conti.
The beautiful mulata, who is the granddaughter of Italians on her father’s side, was born in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, and as a child moved to Campinas (in the state of São Paulo), a city in which he won the 2009 Miss SP.
Silvia would go on to spend three months in beautiful Italy. She said that overcoming the initial difficulties in the country of the boot, especially the food, which she eventually would became so accustomed to that she started missing a few of the dishes typically Italian. She learned the language a bit and saw the whole visit as an excellent experience. Silvia will return to Italy this year in July or August to crown her successor.
Silvia also commented briefly on the case of racism on the Internet that occurred soon after her election. Soon after her victory, Silvia’s photo was featured on an international online forum of an Adolph Hitler supporter website that rejected a black woman being named Miss Italia Nel Mondo. Below her photo was written the phrase: “A disgusting negra can’t be italian, maybe she has an italian grandfather of grandfather of grandfather…”
Another comment posted on the site by a participant who lived in São Paulo read: “That’s Italian beauty? If it was in ancient Rome, this ‘italianinha’ (little Italian) would be a servant of Nero (Roman emperor)!”
When it was brought to her attention at the time, Silvia was saddened by the comments: “My mother is black, mulata, and my father is white. I consider myself black and I am proud of my color. For this reason, I didn’t like the comments”, said the beauty that continues to live with her family in Campinas.
Snapshot taken of comments made on white supremacist website
Remembering the racist incident several months later, Silvia said:
“I was the victim of prejudice on the web on the part of some anonymous people, but personally I didn’t have any problem, however. During the competition in Italy in Reggio Calabria, the Italians came toward me and said ‘I’m rooting for you’. After the competition, traveling through Rome, the reception was great, they were affectionate. They said that they had voted for me, they asked to take a picture, and I even gave them autographs [laughs]. But the prejudice was only on the internet. Unfortunately. I don’t know if it continues because I don’t care to know.”
Working as a model, Silvia said this is not the first time that she was a victim of racism. Despite having being chosen the winner in the Italia nel Mondo (Miss Italy in the World), she hadn’t suffered prejudice in the European country, but rather in Brazil. But she never wanted to file a police report because of these racist incidents.
“In 2009, when I was chosen Miss Campinas and Miss São Paulo I suffered prejudice. Some people I know have also made racist remarks because of my color. They said I was more like a maid. In the audience of the Miss São Paulo contest, my mother heard insults, like the maid of these people was more beautiful than me. And that it was absurd for a black woman to win. But as much as I heard these things, I kept to myself and I won”, said Silvia, who is represented by the Monica Monteiro Models Agency, and has also competed in the Miss Brazil. The rejection of black women as representations of Brazilian beauty are reminiscent of some of the things that top model Emanuela de Paula also heard while climbing the ranks in the world of modeling.
It is noteworthy that being crowned “Miss” in Brazil is not an easy feat easy for black women. In almost 60 years of the Miss Brazil contest, only one black woman has won: Deise Nunes in 1986. And there have been beautiful black women in the competition, as the famous Vera Lucia Couto dos Santos, Miss Guanabara of 1964, who took 2nd place in the Miss Brasil of that year and even had a Carnival song written in her honor, Mulata Bossa Nova – which is still performed to this day during Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.
Silvia shared her opinion on this:
Wanting to break down barriers, “Miss Italy in the World” wants to continue her modeling career, but says that it has been difficult to find work in a fashion world that seems to value whites more than blacks and mulattos. When she won the Miss Italy in the World, Novais said: “I’ve been thinking this week that the first black Miss Brazil was the Deise Nunes in 1986. In a country full of so many mixtures and beautiful black women it is rare to see a black woman win the Miss Brazil.”
Even so, several months later, Novais continues to offer this advice to aspiring black girls and women:
“Although Brazil is made up largely of African descendents, we end up suffering some kind of prejudice, as we all know. One piece of advice I would give, and this goes for any young person: never give up your dreams, never!”
The beauty also loved witnessing the victory of Angolan woman Leila Lopes, also black, at the Miss Universe competition held in São Paulo in September of 2011.
“From Italy I followed the victory of Leila, I loved it, it was very well-deserved. Leila was stunning. In addition to being beautiful, she showed other attributes of a miss: sympathy, intelligence and most importantly, humility.”
Silvia has been dating for 2½ years, working as a model and has a degree in physical education. The beauty regrets not being able to participate in beauty contests because of age restrictions and she can’t decide when asked which was the most important competition:
“All [the competitions] will be unforgettable, each with its own value, because I dedicated myself, I prepared myself. It was a dream to participate in all of them, and victory, then, is indescribable. I didn’t expect to win in any of them, so it will be unforgettable. Being Miss was a great decision. I grew up, matured, and learned many things.”