VOGUE BrasilBrazil – outside of Bahia and other locales populated predominantly by Afro-Brazilians – isn’t the most racially-progressive nation.Racism is rampant. It’s evidenced by the blatant colorism displayed in Brazil’s media, the referencing of darker-complexioned Brazilians as “monkeys” and the black-face slave trope. There’s also hatred toward kinkier afros and other remnants of African heritage.

Fashion, a social institution known for its discrimination, has provided a platform to take Brazilian racism to the next plateau.

Brazilian stylist Ronaldo Fraga used F/W 2013 Sao Paulo Fashion Week to “pay homage” to Afro-Brazilians in soccer. He requested metallic hairpieces. Beauty artist Marcos Costa envisioned this as a brillo-pad, George Washingtonian contraption.

He tried it. “The supposedly bad hair is actually a potential sculpture,” he said.

Dissenters will claim this isn’t a racist act, but Brazilian context is required here. The scouring pad is referred to as a bombril in Brazil, but the word also has a negative connotation. Bombril is derogatory term used to insult Brazilians with cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) or what cabelo ruim (bad hair).

Black women in Brazil also deemed this “homage” as a blatant attempt to belittle blackness. A Brazilian blogger writes:

“The issue of society’s standard of cabelo bom (good hair) and cabelo ruim (bad hair) has plagued Brazil’s black community for centuries and continues to be a sensitive issue particularly for those who have experienced racist taunting or comments in regards to their hair texture. The consistent verbal and psychological assaults on the self-esteem of the African descendant are reasons that many black activists point to for the fragmentation and/or destruction of black identity in Brazil.”

Marco has denied blatantly disrespecting Afro-Brazilians on the catwalk.

“I’m shocked at the repercussions because I’m mestiço (mixed race), grandson of a descendant of slaves and son of a mulato father soccer player,” said Ronaldo. “In the collection, soccer from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s was the object of research and not homage. The situation is a great irony because in the 30s black players were beaten in public when they committed a foul because soccer is of English origin and comes from a white elite. It was Brazil that soccer art was born with capoeira influences. And now, my show was captured by the ‘politically correct’.”

Worst of all, VOGUE Brasil covered this without contextualizing it.

“Sharing space with hairpins and sprays, on the bench of the backstage parade of popular Brazilian stylist Ronaldo Fraga, was some unusual material: steel wool. In homage to the arrival of blacks in Brazilian soccer, the beauty artist Marcos Costa created a hairstyle using a range of metallic utensil. This served as a crown on the head of the models, fastened with strategically placed hairpins wrapping hair strands stuck into a low bun.”

Racism is intercontinental. Brazil, do better.


  • omfg

    i’m almost tired of being indignant over this stuff.

    but, i also realize that people are entitled to their indignation and should absolutely express their displeasure over crap like this.

    it’s just neverending. it’s as if they are intentionally doing these types of things to get attention and a rise. i may not be so, but it sure seems that way at times.

    i mean, how could you be so stupid as to think it’s not problematic?

    and i don’t care that he’s mixed or whatever brazilian term they’ve designated for his hue and hair type.

  • LKJ

    If he wanted to “pay homage” to Afro-Brazilians in soccer, he could have hired some Afro-Brazilian models, instead of doing this.

    I honestly think he knew this would be controversial and he did it anyways to get attention. I had never heard of this stylist before this , but now he is getting lots of attention for his stunt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EnriquesX Anita Volpato

    Am I delusional or something. The chick in the picture sitting down is black.. WTH? So what she is light but I so is my mama… I personally don’t know anyone with hair equivalent to brillo. This is done for attention and drama period.

  • Moe

    For some reason, Americans have this idea that America is the only racist and sexist country in the world. This proves that those views are international, unfortunately.

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  • Ms. Vee

    Completely agree. Plus i never knew finding Afro wigs was such a daunting task that one would have to resort to using brillo pads.*Rolls eyes* I’m not impressed and quite frankly indifferent. I care not to seek recognition from white and/or non black media outlets. We have to start paying homage to ourselves.

  • http://twitter.com/Author_JGail J. Gail (@Author_JGail)

    Whether it was done in homage or to ridicule, I don’t think I give a dammmm what a designer or these models think about my hair. Do you?

  • Nadell

    The only reaction they’ll get out of me is LAUGHTER!
    Black face/body
    Slave jewelry
    Brillo Pad hair
    white girl as African queen
    stuffing towels under shirt and skirt
    The very fact that every other day they make such an effort to mock black women in which ever poor, foolish way gives all the more reason the fascination and admiration they have for us! The greatness that we possess keeps them emulating.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I keep reading this article and leaving with the thought “what in the hell…” Brillo pad…of all things…you can’t fake stupidity like this.

  • Genie

    Brillo Pad O_o

    Who in the hell has hair like Brillo Pad?!

    But at least I know how this man really feels about Black people.

  • Nic

    The thing is, the majority of Brazilians are of Afro-descent. So something like 60% of people claimed it on the census and a large chunk of the remaining 40% would black by American standards (I think of it like the black Dominicans who claim “Indio”). The areas where people are full on white are very small, and those are descendents of Italians and Germans who migrated after WWII.
    So don’t get it twisted, there you don’t have to be in Bahia to see “Afro-Brazilians” or for dark skin to be the norm.
    Colorism is rampant but a lot of people have incorrect ideas about what “Brazilan” looks like and what the majority of the population really is.

  • Tracy

    Honey Boom!!!

  • roselyn

    i feel the same, it’s like..why at every point and turn there’s an effort to mock and ridicule us? Like talk about OBSESSION! Like if you truly hate someone, you want nothing to do with them right? We shouldn’t even exist to them. But they can’t stop with us, you don’t see them doing this to asian women. It’s because they know how bad we truly are. Nothing beats a beautiful black women, with nice cocoa skin rocking her natural locks with the full succulent lips. I mean…am I right or am I right?

    Call me a conspiracy theorist. But if you want to promote white women in the media and label them as the epitome of beauty. Fine. But why the extra mile to ridicule black women in the process? Because they know we some bad mamma jammas, and are competition. So I say to all you sistas, go ‘head witcho bad melanin enriched selves!!!!

  • http://clutchmagazine blcknnblvuu

    Those metallic hair pieces don’t look in any shape or form like agro-texture hair,coily or curly instead they are flat and straight more like Caucasian hair.
    This guy is totally clueless.

  • Kay

    And……this is coming from a country touted as the world’s least racist nation with the most mixed people. Just goes to show you that ideology sometimes trumps things like reality and genetics. You can have as much mixing as you want, but people can still be racist.

  • Keshia

    People sure love imitating black women! I don’t even know how to feel about this….ehh.

  • Bree

    Some people will NEVER get it.

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  • Lisa Taylor Whitley

    This is very disturbing.

  • Keshia

    Lol that’s kinda what I was thinking I’ve never seen a black woman with hair like this.

  • mEE

    when I was maybe 10yrs old, one of my classmates started calling me “brillo pad head” (…now that I think about it, he was definitely Afro-Hispanic with a curl pattern not that different from mine). I remember my feelings being hurt because I knew it was a derogatory statement but I was so confused about what that even meant. guess he was reading the same book as this guy

  • http://gravatar.com/bornliberian bornliberian

    why do they do shyt like this, do they think they r doing “us” a favor? that shyt is fuggin rude. i have a potty mouth and i love it….lol

  • Melissa

    Uh, you can celebrate Black women by including dark ‘n’ lovely au naturale Black women in your fashion shows and on your fashion magazines. Brazil [and others], do better.


    White people are nuts and just hate the fact they can’t do nothing with their hair.

  • Dalili

    You know, I wish these off kilter homages would just stop. They end up being a mockery of the very subject they’re supposed to be honoring. Just rubbish all around.

  • http://gravatar.com/prxtence Salmon

    exactly. those pieces look like pieces felt from your local craft store…

  • http://www.dawnthescreenwriter.com ScriptTease

    Seem like this sh!t is getting worse in worse, especially over the past 4-5 years if you follow. Brillo pad hair, come on white folks.

  • noir45

    I had a Brazilian woman swear to me that racism in Brazil is non-existent due to the interracial relationships that have taken place over the past. She said the racial harmony is perfect, and to even say anything negative about blacks would get you arrested.

    Of course, I said b.s.! Many of them have been duped by propaganda.

  • http://melodymoose.deviantart.com/ Catpopstar

    But my hair does not feel like a brillo pad.

  • WhatIThink

    Well as long as black folks world wide sit by and try to get by in a culture and society that has been mistreating them and exploiting them for hundreds of years this will continue to happen. It will happen because the black folks have no power to stop it or are not willing to sacrifice anything to gain the power to stop it.

    You can’t want to buy the fashions from white fashion houses and beauty houses on one day and then turn around and claim racism and cry foul the next. Don’t buy the damn products and stop promoting these companies. But black women are some of the biggest ones running around trying to promote white fashion and beauty industry products not realizing that most of this industry is historically based on racial supremacy world wide.

    Keep in mind that cosmetics and fashion originated in Africa in the first place.

  • Anon

    And people want to ignore how blood quantum and phenotype range play a part in intra-racial ‘racism’ within the black, black-multiracial or multiracial-African-descended, kaleidoscope; and how much of that intra-racism within these combined groups is white supremacist/Anglo-Saxon driven.

    This is a prime example. Other examples:

    1) When Tamar Braxton got on the Ricki Lake Show and compared wearing natural hair textures to “Looking like Leroy”, aka “looking like a man”

    2) When that lipstick and high-heel wearing, big headed, celebrity gay stylist of Atlanta implied that certain women shouldn’t wear their natural hair; instead, he could have just completed the training to serve that marketing. Atlanta is a black hair capital, the Black Natural Hair community is big there. There’s no excuse.

    Look at the, clearly, African-descended mixed-race white face gloatingly sporting her brillo pad head dress.


  • http://curlyhairspot.com Alinne

    I am sorry to hear that things like this happen in 2013. What I know is this, what you resist persists.

  • No_chaser

    Damn, couldn’t they at least go for the brillo with the blue or pink speckles? smh.

  • Fantastico

    Um… They just look like f***ed up Roxie Harts. Blonde busted finger waves. Foolishness.

  • http://twitter.com/Kathleenicorn Kathleenicorn (@Kathleenicorn)

    what the actual fuck

  • Roy

    I think you bring a very important point. Many racism apologists around the world dodge/deny the issue but pointing out that their cultures/communities/countries are not the same as the US and therefore claim it’s inappropriate to draw parallels… ie were not Americans so don’t use “American” standards to judge us. As if only the US is cursed with racism and everyone is clear to behave like a bunch of bigoted a##holes because their “different”

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  • http://www.hairobicsallnatural.com Marissa

    That kind of makes me sick to see.

  • tina

    Oh well…this is what it is. Perhaps it really was a way to make white brazilans feel what it’s like in our shoes. Always having to be something you’re not.

  • Ray

    hmm, the idea of just using Black female models with real hair just escapes the rationale right? I know, I’m going to honor white models.. only I am going to use all black females with Blond wigs. Should work inn the reverse right?

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