In Brasil, Blond is Still The New Black

In today’s New York Times, Alexei Barrionuevo introduces us to Allisson Chomak, a model scout in Brazil who is one of the many charged with finding the country’s next Gisele Bundchen. You know, the Brasilian supermodel who doesn’t look like a majority of the women in Brasil:

“The goal, he and other model scouts say, is to find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in. Such a mix, they say, helps produce the tall, thin girls with straight hair, fair skin and light eyes that Brazil exports to the runways of New York, Milan and Paris with stunning success.

Yet Brazil is not the same country it was in 1994, when Gisele Bündchen, the world’s top earning model, was discovered in a tiny town not far from here. Darker-skinned women have become more prominent in Brazilian society, challenging the notions of Brazilian beauty and success that Ms. Bündchen has come to represent here and abroad.”

This is puzzling since the internal Brasilian fashion, entertainment and television industry is now starting to become more racially balanced with more Blacks in principal roles, like our Parlourista model/actress, Patricia DeJesus, yet Brasil’s modeling industry is still focusing on recruiting and exporting women who represent the minority of Brasilian society, speaking to not only how it looks at itself, but how it wants to be seen by the rest of the world. Even more troubling is the deliberate nature of the entire process, as these young girls are found when scouts have genetically mapped the country to find where this “desired mix” may reside and then descend on their schools, a great way to mind-fuck the “other” young girls who don’t fit the mold in the area. A great way to foster national pride, eh?

Off Runway, Brazilian Beauty Goes Beyond Blond

image: João Pina for The New York Times

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