Saturday, May 23, 2009

Brazilian models

I am delighted to know that authorities in Brazil are going after the fashion industry for their thinly-veiled racism. Many have written about the travesty of the Italian VOGUE all black issue that included few ads featuring women of color, while others have commented to the ridiculous statistics including European-descent, Caucasian-looking Brazilians like Gisele or Spaniards like Eugenia Silva as "women of color" to add to meagre numbers. And this is of course further complicated by the fact that we can't guess what someone's ethnicity in many cases, so this isn't so simple. But the situation as it is now doesn't seem too subtle- most of the models conform to widely-held ideas about beauty modeled on features understood to be "white." I cannot count the number of conversations I have had with friends of varied backgrounds where we laugh about the mis-identifications others make when trying to guess where we are from. I get many nationalities spanning the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Mediterranean Europe! But sadly no one has ever asked me if I am a model.

Deal in Brazil fashion race row
By Gary Duffy,
BBC News, Sao Paulo
Brazilian prosecutors and organisers of Sao Paulo Fashion Week have reached a deal over claims that too few black and mixed-race models are taking part.

Under its terms, fashion brands must ensure that 10% of the models are of African or Indigenous descent.

Last year, an investigation concluded eight of 344 the models taking part in the event were black - just 2.3%.

If the organisers fail to meet the new target they could face the prospect of being fined more than $120,000

Sao Paulo Fashion Week, being held in June, attracts worldwide attention.

But when the Brazilian newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, drew attention to the fact that few black models were used, the legal authority responsible for looking after the public interest opened an investigation.

Easier to work abroad

Brazil has more people of African descent than anywhere outside Africa itself.

Almost half of the population is said to be black or of mixed race.

But black Brazilian models say it has often been easier to get work abroad than in their own country.

It is a sensitive time for the issue of racial quotas in Brazil.

While there has been little visible sign of tension over race, people of African heritage make up the poorest section of society.

An attempt to create a national law to establish quotas to address this inequality has once again been delayed in the Brazilian Congress, because of a failure to reach a consensus.

Some legislators are arguing that the best way to tackle inequality would be to use social rather than racial criteria in setting targets.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/05/22 11:36:20 GMT


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