One of the official posters for the Olympics. (“It’s really hard for us in Brazil to choose one artist to represent the Games.”). When it comes to ideals of feminine beauty, on the other hand, the country still seems to prefer to play by the old colour-coded rules.
Whenever I’ve been in the country I’ve been struck by the way glossy magazine covers still opt for European faces. It’s almost as if most of the population doesn’t exist. In a country that’s supposedly colour-blind, the discrepancy is all the more jarring. Do Brazilians really not notice? A few years ago, at a PR event on Sugar Loaf Mountain, I say through a corny promotional film for the state airline TAM. After a while I realized something odd was happening: almost every member of the polished, ultra-professional staff smiling out from the screen was white. I was so startled that I began counting. In all, there were about 26 — cabin staff, pilots, executives and so on. Then, at last, a couple of black faces appeared: two elderly, itinerant street musicians — from Copacabana, I think. And that was it. As I pointed out to a colleague, could you imagine an American company trying to pull a similar trick?