Now that the Rio Summer 2016 Olympics are over I think its important we unpackage some of the stereotypes and common misconceptions about Brazil. First, I don't speak for all Brazilians, I'm speaking from a western US gaze to remind other people in more 'developed' countries to check our privilege before falling for all of the stereotypes of Brazil. Second, it's important to note that the Olympics being held in Brazil have been contested mainly because they are seen as a 'second/third world' country filled with disease and corruption. I'd like to remind the reader that this kind of uproar wasn't so prevalent with the London 2012 Summer games because unlike Brazil,
England is a country that was the imperializer of the world not the imperialisee. When looking at countries in the western world, specifically Brazil, it's important to note that their country is a product of colonialism and though Brazil has a long history of it's own native people, Brazil is mainly looked at from a western Eurocentric gaze. That is why the stereotypes of Brazil and Latin America have usually negative connotations. Lastly, I do not believe in using labels like first, second or third world because we all share the same earth. Using those labels is a way of distancing ourselves from those people whom we really shouldn't see as any different from ourselves. We should all realize our differences but not let those differences get in the way of seeing each others humanity.
1.Brazil is not just Rio and Copacabana nor in the middle of nowhere in the Amazon Rain Forest
A common misconception about Brazil due to the tourism marketing not only from Brazil itself but from the US is that all Brazil is partying, beaches and Rio's Carnaval when in reality Brazil is so much more than that. Brazil isn't one big party and they're definitely not lazy. They have a longer work week than we do in the US and yes they do have more holidays during the year they work hard just like the rest of us in the US.
Secondly, another stereotype is that Brazil isn't a developed country besides Rio and the beaches and the interior is just rain forest and if there are towns there are monkeys everywhere. This also is untrue. There is a huge city in the interior of Brazil and the Amazon Rain forest takes up space in other Latin American countries besides Brazil. Though cutting down the rain forest shouldn't be ignored Brazil has towns in the interior and other places than Rio. Not to mention there are no monkeys in the streets but dogs and cats which is another epidemic that I cant get into right now. Brazil also has a diverse range of geographic settings. In the northeast it's dry and hot during the day but cold at night. There's no rain forest there but there are beautiful beaches.
2.Stop Hypersexualizing Brazil
A common misconception about Brazil is that the women are easy and the men chivalrous and hyper masculine. Both of these are false. Not every Brazilian woman is easy and why is a woman taking control of her sexuality loose? But anyway, a stereotype in Brazil (not a western one) is that Brazilian women are actually hard to get and the most that a couple looking for love would do on a first date is kiss and then go on a few dates before getting intimate. Of course, I could go on a whole long rant about sexualizing Latin American women not only by westerners but by Brazilian men but I won't (right now). Yes, maybe their bathing suits are smaller but why does that give us as people from the US a right to judge an entire country and call them animalistic beings?
Brazilian men aren't a special breed of man. They're just people. They're human beings; they're not there to fulfill your Latino male fantasy. They're not special in anyway and we shouldn't see them as pieces of meat (INSIDE OUT). They're all different and yes they were raised differently than how were raised in the US so they might act differently but that doesn't give us the license to objectify them.
I've met some Brazilians that think the US is more hypersexual due to Hollywood movies like American Pie and of course those movies don't accurately portray the entire US. It's interesting to see how one country can hypersexualize another and use that as a negative connotation or perception of the other country, especially when the 'other' country is seen as more developed.
Though this doesn't have to do with hypersexualization it does have to do with plastic surgery. There were articles that came out last year from NPR that stated that some Brazilian medical insurance policies cover plastic surgery costs so even poorer men and women can get cosmetic surgery for a cheap price. This has to do with the myth that Brazilian people happen to be more vain than others. This of course may exist in some parts of Brazil but just because people choose to get plastic surgery doesn't mean they're bad people. Yes, maybe peoples backsides are given more attention in Brazil than in the US but I could make an argument against that with the rise of Nicki Minaj and how even white girls want big butts. Brazil was listed as one of the countries with the highest cosmetic surgery percentages in the world but compared to the US and South Korea they shrink in comparison. They shrink even more when cosmetic surgery is compared per capita. So do your research before you assume that Brazilians love getting plastic surgery or that getting plastic surgery in general equates to being a bad person.
3.Latin American or brown isn't a race
A lot of people (whether white or otherwise) classify Latin Americans in the US as brown but this is a problem because Indians from India also classify themselves as brown, when in reality there's a spectrum of colors in both areas of the world and you can't attach any one color to them. But this interesting play on the word brown is important because darker skinned people from Latin America in the US are seen as more 'Latin American.' In countries like Brazil a more tan color is desired due to the amount of racial mixing and racial ambiguity. People who are either too dark or too light are ostracized for not fitting into this golden skin stereotype. In the US it's the same thing. Latin Americans in the US who are darker are seen as more brown and thus more Latinx because not only do they fit their own country's stereotype but they fit the US's notion of what it means to be Latinx, dark skinned and therefore, poor. But classifying Latinx as a race or as one color is extremely marginalizing because not only is Latinx an ethnicity not a race but that race exists in a spectrum everywhere but especially where the slave trade was present and being mixed race is common due to not enforcing miscegenation laws and other more violent reasons.
Finally, they don't need your pity. Brazil has its problems but so does the rest of the world and no one should tell another population of people how to govern themselves, there's no one way to success. There's been this common notion throughout the history of colonialism and imperialism that by taking over a lesser people or taking up the 'white mans burden' and turning the other country's economy into a capitalist one that democracy the 'good way' of governing would follow. And thus, all the countries in the world would be developed into the western Eurocentric image of prosperity. However, this didn't happen mainly due to the fact that all countries are different. Whether it's their geographic location and climate or the fact that there were native people already there that hey, maybe could govern themselves and were fine till you showed up, all places around the world have their differences and there's nothing wrong with that. Brazil is going through a crisis now but they don't need our two cents, they don't need our 'oh look at those poor brown people' and they most definitely don't need us going in there to fix everything. All countries have ups and downs and who are we (the US who has its own problems of people not being given their basic human rights and their own political corruption) to judge.
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.