From the word go Brazilian women had their fingers in all Brazil’s big pie moments.
Campaigning, saving the planet and inspiring all women around the world, I think there’s a lesson or two to be learnt from Brazilian women.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Brazilian Women at the Dawn of Time (of the New World at least…)
In the early 1500s Diogo Álvares Correia rocked up on the shores of Brazil. Gobsmacked at the palm tree-laden beaches; the ginormous size of the Amazon river and very much shipwrecked in Brazil.
Correia is swept into the arms of the chief’s drop dead gorgeous daughter and they marry. Dubbing him his shiny new native name Caramuru.
Of course, I am romanticizing the story. However, it was this alignment with the beautiful lady Paraguaçu, that encompasses the first political campaign run by a Brazilian woman. From this point forward I would even say this relationship was a principal reason that the majority of the Portuguese DIDN’T end up on a dinner plate.
Born a Slave – Rocked Life as an All Powerful Mistress
Whizzing forward two centuries, Chica da Silva or in Portuguese Xica da Silva was another extremely influential Brazilian women. Her victories are built into the fabric of the country’s diamond industry.
Xica da Silva was the baby of a slave and Portuguese colonist. She had a challenging life, nonetheless, she earned her own freedom and her children became members of the Portuguese court.
Her most powerful impact in Brazil though, was based on her relationship with a diamond contractor named João Fernandes de Oliveira. Legend has it, he was under Xica’s thumb.
Consequently, from behind the scenes Xica was therefore the true influencer of the Diamond mines of Brazil.
Which at the time was a heck of a lot of power.
Other (half) Brazilian Women through History
Dona Isabel, daughter of Emperor Don Pedro II
Princess Imperial Isabel was born in Brazil but had an Italian Momma, Teresa Cristina. As her father traveled abroad a lot, and back them international journeys took a long time, she acted as regent of Brazil in many different occasions.
Imperial Isabel promoted and signed the law that would abolish slavery in Brazil. The last place in entire world where slavery was still legal.
Carmem Miranda was a famous Brazilian singer and actress and popularized Brazilian culture internationally in the 1900s. The most interesting part is that she was in fact born in Portugal to Portuguese parents. Nowadays she remains a symbol of Brazil, showing that if you love this country enough anyone can be deemed a Brazilian woman.
Leopoldina was Austrian and was married to Emperor Don Pedro. Don Pedro grew up in Brazil and was really quite crazy and more than a little bit wild. He was known to refuse to take baths. Leopoldina arriving to her arranged marriage brought civilization and BATHS to Brazil. Brazilians now take on average two showers a day, so I would say she influenced the culture quite significantly.
Dilma was the first woman president of Brazil. Though she was impeached she will always go down in history. The first woman president and the first woman president to be impeached. Congratulations. Like so many Brazilians, Dilma is also a baby of immigrants, her parents are Bulgarian.
So therefore, you are really just one step away from being a Brazilian woman. You needn’t even be born in Brazil. I’m lining up my passport application as I write this…
Food Glorious Food | Bela Gil
Bela Gil is an angel-baby born of Musical idol Gilberto Gil. She aims her efforts on food sustainability.
I love how her recipes also incorporate the absolute best of Brazilian cuisine. Often she uses fruit and veg only native to Brazil. So if you are a culinary keen bean then give her youtube channel a follow.
Her pappa, obviously played a fab role in choosing a name that lends itself to rather marketable word puns. Bela in this case meaning Beautiful. She specializes in nutritional food and I would go as far as say she is a Brazilian lady version of good old Jamie Oliver.
Regarding campaigning for the good of the world, she has done more than her fair share.
Most recently she launched a reusable nappy/diaper range in an adorable collection of prints.
On the food front she supports several campaigns that promote and teach about nutritional food in both public and private schools throughout Brazil. Attempting to combat obesity, which has been on the rise in Brazil. Especially since low education and financial difficulties mean many Brazilians often neglect nutrition when buying food.
Finally, she is also mum of the year. Her latest cooking book is for maternity, exactly the time when food preoccupations are eating up your brain. On the front cover she’s breast feeding. A Brazilian woman precisely not giving a flying monkey what anyone else thinks. She’s here to help the world and there’s nothing that will stop her.
Top notch work Bela.
Theatre | Deborah Colker
When I had the chance to watch the ballet “Cão Sem Plumas” in Rio Municipal Theatre I was expecting tutus and classical composers, but what I got was so much better. A fusion of cinema and theatre, this ballet was tear jerking, enthralling and a little bit scary.
The ballet is 70 minutes long, based on the poem O Cão Sem Plumas written by João Cabral de Melo Neto. A running narration of this poem tells of the difficulties of living in the Sertão, an extremely arid area in the Northeast of Brazil. As well as the dependence on the Capibaribe river there.
The ballerinas won’t be pirouetting, but covered in mud, depicting the dust, river and wildlife of the Sertão Region. Truly my words just can’t do the show justice so here is a link to an introductory video.
Colker’s previous endeavor aimed to raise awareness for littering. Her dancers wore tutus and costumes made entirely of plastic bags. That’s got to make you choke back some tears. In a country where the cashiers usually pack your shopping in two bags at a time, it’s a message that is sure to resonate with the Brazilian public.
Politics | Marielle Franco
There’s no doubt that politics in Brazil is still a white male dominated arena. One that not only excludes participation of representatives of persecuted Brazilian women, black citizens and lower class citizens, but also actively discriminates against them.
Within a year the first female Brazilian president was impeached (Dilma), the first president from a lower class background is on the edge of being incarcerated (Lula), and a black elected councilor who was a spokesperson of favela residents was assassinated (Marielle Franco).
Marielle Franco was not shy to denounce the abuses of corrupt police in favelas. On March 14th 2018 Marielle’s job, beliefs and life mission led to her death. The night she was assassinated she was on the way home from Young Black Women who are Changing Power Structures.
What a hero.
The devastating act of hatred caused nationwide protests. What we should keep alive though is a memory of her positive impact on Brazil.
Marielle worked relentlessly to bring justice and a voice to those living on the peripheries of Rio de Janeiro. Areas riddled with police raids and uncertainty. She both denounced unstable police structures and supported the families of officers who died in the violence plaguing Rio de Janeiro.
An aspiring lady, whose life can and should compel more women to take to politics or simply speak up for Brazil’s crumbling democracy, before it is lost altogether.
Fashion | Gisele BündchenFrom politicians to supermodels there is not a single thing a Brazilian woman can’t do. I’m mixing up the bag and backing Gisele Bündchen, a Brazilian supermodel who has a soft spot for our blessed planet.
Forbes already listed Gisele as one of the most powerful women in the world. Powerful, influential, rich and compassionate, she chose to campaign for a personal passion, the environment. Something inspired by her beautiful home country Brazil.
Seeing the devastation of deforestation and pollution that is ripe throughout the country, Gisele has headed various campaigns to make a difference.
She started with her own line of flipflops, oh so Brazilian. This campaign dedicated time and drove awareness for the protection of the Xingu river in the Amazon, as well as encouraging water saving habits.
Moreover, with her family she heads a project called Projeto Água Limpa, which focuses on sustainability. They planted a whopping 40,000 new trees in Brazil.
To top it off, she has even wiggled her way into the United Nations themselves to campaign as a Goodwill Ambassador in the environmental program.
Life is so much more than a pretty face and we should all take a leaf out of Gisele’s book to step up to impact our world’s challenges.
Conclusive evidence that Brazilian women can inspire everyone.