Brazilian concept of "beauty"

When one looks at these images from various Brazilian carnivals, it's no wonder that many foreigners, including myself, associate Brazilian beauty with images of "exotic" mocha-skinned women: … mp;dpr=1.1

But according to my fiance, who has lived in Brazil for 30 years, many Brazilians prize light hair, fair skin, and light eyes...and they take pride not in their mocha-skinned beauties but in the more "exotic" European features of the women from southern Brazil. He made it sound as if having a pretty blonde girlfriend on your arm is a status symbol. Is this true?

I find this fascinating because as an American, I've always thought Brazil was celebrated for its interesting ethnic mix of white, black, and native Indian (even though there aren't many Indians left). In fact, here in the US, the images from carnival are what dominate our ideas of Brazilian women. But my fiance told me that when his Brazilian co-workers get back from a trip to Manaus, they comment on how the Brazilian women there are so ugly ("nice bodies but ugly faces").  Also, Brazilians like to say, "We produce so many supermodels because when Italians and Germans started mixing and having offspring, they created some of the most beautiful women in the world." Why is there nothing about Africans or native Indians in this statement? For a country that is also celebrated for being racially tolerant (at least compared to the US and some of its South American neighbors), and is as diversified and ethnically interesting as Brazil, how do its people hold such narrow-minded perceptions of beauty?

Of course, I'm generalizing here...I know not every Brazilian prefers light hair and fair skin, but what my fiance said got me thinking. Is it due to social conditioning? Are Brazilians socially conditioned to be more attracted to "white" features...much like the rest of the world?

But then why the fascination with tanning and full, round bottoms? Dark skin and big butts are not necessarily European features - in fact, I'll dare say (hopefully without sounding racist) that these are African features. Here in the US, it's mostly black American culture that obsesses over big butts - the bigger, the better. (Baby got back!) Yet Brazilians are obsessed with tans and big butts, no? I don't get it.

The situation in Brazil reminds me of the time I traveled around Thailand...but in reverse. I met many expats there who had taken up with Thai women - women, who for the most part, were from the native hill tribes of Southeast Asia and were darker skinned than their other Thai counterparts (Thai women can be very fair or very dark and their features also range from "white and almost European" to very "native hill tribe" features). Over a few beers, these expats (I spoke to mostly Brits but also a few from other parts of Europe) would complain about the pale and unattractive women back home and how they thought their darker "exotic" Thai girlfriends/wives were the most beautiful women in the world. Again, social conditioning? Are people attracted to what they think is exotic?

Actually it really is a strange mix here. It's really difficult to say what the real idea of beauty is in Brazil. While many of the white (especially foreign) males here are attracted to the Afro-Brazilian women. Brazilian men seem to be evenly split between favoring the blondes and the Afro-Brazilians. The lighter skinned "morena clara" with long jet black hair and dark brown eyes is also considered exotic.

One thing they all seem to have in common it that men in Brazil seem to think that buxom women are exotic. They really go for girls with big bums and thighs, ridiculously huge boobs here. Well, I guess somebody's got to keep the Brazilian plastic surgeons in business!

Personally I think that the most sensual and attractive women are the ones who are happy with themselves and the way they look, don't use any false means to make themselves appealing. The real beauty of a woman (Brazilian or otherwise) really comes from within.

William James Woodward, EB Experts Team

wjwoodward :

One thing they all seem to have in common it that men in Brazil seem to think that buxom women are exotic. They really go for girls with big bums and thighs, ridiculously huge boobs here. Well, I guess somebody's got to keep the Brazilian plastic surgeons in business!

Yes, my fiance mentioned the big bums and thighs as well. Again, here in the US, these are features that are generally prized by our black community. He also said that nearly every woman he knows has had a boob job (if they didn't have big breasts to begin with) but that he didn't know anyone who'd had a butt lift. Lol!

Sad to say that Brazilian women are programmed from their infancy by Brazilian moms telling them they've got to be sexy, have hot bodies to get a "man". Well duh, if that's all he's interested in who wants him anyway, right?

Due to the absolute absence of any kind of oversight and enforcement it seems that anybody can set up shop here and call themselves a "Plastic Surgeon". Any medical doctor here can perform plastic surgery procedures, it appears there is no real control over specialization in the field at all. Clinics are more populace than bank branches and have no special requirements regarding the minimum medical equipment required in order to function. The local plumber or shoemaker can set up shop as a Plastic Surgeon here and nobody catches them until they've killed a few patients.

So many Brazilian women die each year because they have voluntarily sumitted themselves to elective plastic surgery procedures with little or no consideration for anything other than cost. They put themselves in the hands of butchers for vanity, no number of news reports (and they're weekly) slows the flow of these women heading off like lambs to slaughter having botched liposuction, breast implants, silicone injections, etc.

It's sad.

Hi Victoria,

Regarding ...

Also, Brazilians like to say, "We produce so many supermodels because when Italians and Germans started mixing and having offspring, they created some of the most beautiful women in the world." Why is there nothing about Africans or native Indians in this statement? For a country that is also celebrated for being racially tolerant (at least compared to the US and some of its South American neighbors), and is as diversified and ethnically interesting as Brazil, how do its people hold such narrow-minded perceptions of beauty?

... my view is this: I've lived in Sao Paulo for about 5 years and I don't think Brazilians have a narrow conception of beauty, and they most certainly are the most racially-tolerant people I've ever met. But it's important to remember that in the grand scheme of things Brazilians are heavily Amerindian-Black genetic mixes to begin with; what they are saying is that once you mix European genetics in the result is extraordinary.  I think that's true: Nature Loves Outcrosses.

At the same time it's also true that many Brazilian men find European and North American women very attractive; i.e., women who don't look Brazilian.  But this the just another example of the basic principle that Nature Loves Outcrosses (and this means men and women very often find someone of a dissimilar genotype to them to be attractive).

Cheers, John

Well said John, I agree with you almost 100%. Unfortunately the xenophobia and prejudice here in Brazil, while it does not extend to those from North America, Europe, the UK and her former territories, those from other South American countries and states in the north and northeast of Brazil have not been spared from the full force of the prejudice that still exists in this nation. Sad to say. So, Brazilians are not all quite so tolerant as you might think, but that's a whole other issue not related to this posting.

Yes indeed, Brazilian women are, if not the most, among the most beautiful women in the world.

William James Woodward, EB Experts Team

Hi William,

Ah yes, very good point.  I agree.  There is a lot of suspicion/distrust of "outsiders", which for some bizarre reason doesn't seem to include people from wealthy nations (whatever their race). There's a real aversion to Bolivians and Paraguayans (and Nigerians) here in SP.

I have a friend and she says the real discrimination here is across economic strata of society (e.g., "lower classes" seem to be regarded as having malandragem tendencies).

Best,  John

I've been living in Brazil for a month now, and I've spent my time between Campinas and Sao Paulo. And while I've seen some attractive women here, in my opinion, they are the exception, not the it is in most countries around the world.

Brazil has this reputation for having the world's most beautiful women, and I don't really understand why. If blondes are your thing, then I'm sure countries like Russia and Sweden have more exceptional women. Maybe because Brazil has produced a lot of supermodels? Anyway, I've seen plenty more attractive women in all different colors on the streets of NYC, LA, and San Francisco. (Though I haven't been to Rio yet, where supposedly everyone is super fit and gorgeous...but for some reason, I doubt this.) Also, according to the Brazilians I've encountered, if I go down to the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil where the people are generally "white" and more "European," supposedly, this is where I'll find "the most beautiful women in Brazil." Hmmm...if I wanted to see beautiful European women, why would I come to Brazil? I'd just go to Europe. I don't get it. Before I arrived here, I thought Brazil was the least racist and most racially diverse country in South America, yet it seems that Brazilians still have a tendency to eschew all things "black aka African" in favor of all things "white aka European." Am I wrong?

Carnaval and samba dancing are for "poor people" and for people from Northern Brazil (aka black people) - this is just the vibe I'm getting. Yet as a stupid, naive American, this is what I thought most represented Brazil (silly me):  carnaval and samba! Until I got here and realized that everyone wants to be white. I was at an upscale restaurant in Campinas recently, and I noticed that out of the 10 women dining there, every single one of them was a natural brunette...and every single one of them (without exception) had dyed their hair blond. The most popular colorist at the local salon ONLY dyes BLOND HAIR - his Instagram features hundreds of dye jobs and they are ALL BLOND. And no, it's not as if he only works with blond hair (I called to ask about prices)'s because everyone wants to be blond. No joke. Everyone wants to look more "white" here. My husband was telling me that here, people don't say, "I'm Brazilian." They say "I'm Brazilian, and my grandfather came from Italy and my grandmother came from Germany." In essence, they are telling you that they don't have any black or indigenous blood in them, right?  :|

Recently, on my short plane ride to Rio on Azul Airlines, I noticed that every commercial/advertisement shown on my screen was basically an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. If you are familiar with this American company, you'll know that every model that was shown was white - not one black face or even an ethnically interesting face among the very beautiful but very European-looking models. In a country where just over 50% of the population considers themselves black or of mixed race, it's interesting how white faces still dominate. There are very few natural blondes in this country, but no wonder all the women here in Campinas want to dye their hair blonde...perhaps so that they can look "whiter" and less "ethnic?"

Just take a look at this Rosa Chá website.

Hi Victoria,

You're absolutely right about "blond mania" in Brazil, you'll even find black women dying their hair blond. This is something I find truly ridiculous because it's so faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake. Everybody wants to be blond and I mean everybody!

Sometimes I wonder if the advertising pushes blonds so much is because of the fact that the vast majority of Brazilian males are black and they're absolutely obsessed with blond white women. It's almost like a right of passage for a black Brazilian man to have a white girlfriend with blond hair. I think that the advertising really is pandering to them more than they should and it's for this reason that black women are buying up the stock of skin lighteners and getting their hair dyed blond so much, they feel they haven't a snowball's hope in Hell against their white counterparts.

Personally, I lean toward the other side of the spectrum. I personally find the black Brazilian women  for the most part much more beautiful than the white Brazilians. I mean really now, who in their right mind would really consider Giselle Bündchen the most beautiful woman in the world except a Brazilian guy????


Hi James,

I don't get the Gisele Bündchen love either. I'll give credit where it's due:  she is a fantastic model both in print and on the catwalk, but frankly, I know more than a few people back home who think she looks rather "horsey" and "manly," and that she has a very boyish figure sans womanly curves. Then again, a lot of high fashion models have boyish figures, so... Personally, I find her attractive but in a rather bland way. Maybe this is why she is such a good model - she neither excites nor offends people - but she is a far cry from the "most beautiful woman in the world." Lol!

I've also seen Brazilians go gaga over white American actresses that in my humble opinion are only moderately attractive (or downright unattractive, depending on your tastes): Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco, to name a few. I wonder if the fact that these women are white, blonde, and decent-looking with big tits makes them goddesses in the eyes of most Brazilians when again, many Americans think they are just...well, average.

I was at the hair salon today, and I was flipping through the November 2014 issue of Brazilian Marie Claire magazine (a woman's fashion mag), and I noticed that there wasn't a single black woman or man featured in all 218 pages of the magazine, save for a black model in an advertisement way at the back of the magazine. Even American magazines rarely feature black or Asian or other ethnic minority models on the cover, but there's certainly a greater variety of models used in the ads or editorials inside. Ah, there was one photo featuring darker-skinned women, but they were not models, and the photo accompanied an article about "Life in Prison."  I kid you not. :/

Women in all colors, shapes, and sizes can be beautiful. However, in Brazil, apparently white women, no matter how attractive or unattractive they are, are put on a pedestal, and black women and other ethnic minorities...are designated for the back pages of the magazines.


So this post is 3 years late. I hope you have found some answers to this question. I don't know the discussion you have with your fiance, but don't be stressed with the beauty of Brazilian women. I think its also more about culture +physique than just physical beauty. As far as I can tell, there's no hood culture associated with darker people in Brazil, everyone is more or less the same, they dont talk differently or dress different regardless of the skin colour (as the "hood" favelas in Brazil has all kinds of people including white people and a variety of shades).
Also Brazilian people more white and much more mixed in general than their North American counterpart, even the darker people, they have a lot of european features, like their darkness is different from most black/mixed people I see in the US. I think because of these generations of mass mixing, the beautiful ones are really beautiful. And if you look at Brazilian mass media, most of the models/actresses are actually the brunettes who people can relate to the most, the traditional beauty in Brazilian culture. You rarely hear songs describing the beautiful blondes, they always talk about the beautiful brunette. I guess with a lot of beautiful brunettes around, its just hard to stand out unless this person is truly exceptionally beautiful.
Also when Brazilians talk about big butt, I notice it's different than the "bigness" of North American black culture. The big here is a very specific fit, worked out look that translate into health and fitness, on the bountiful side, but not necessarily the same as the overweight and cellulite filled bigness of North America. All the girls I see here who have big butt work out in the gym a lot, their body is a result of hard work and dedication so that's cool.
Anyways, I rarely see people here as black as the ones in North America, or as white as in North America, it's very spread out. And people don't have a notion of black/white culture. It's more regional, there are a lot of white people in the Northern part of Brazil too, more than you think.

................."Beauty" to a Brazilian women is R$100 note's.........................

True. apparently this is universal across cultures.

we are only talking about one culture on this site at the moment LOL

Well what can i say, i know a lot of different cultures

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