June 12, 2021

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These Brazilian Women Are Changing the Face of Their Country’s Beauty Ideals

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For decades, ad campaigns, editorials, and runways paid homage to a very particular type of Brazilian woman: the Supermodel. There were Alessandra, Gisele, and Adriana. Isabeli, Cintia, and Izabel. They had many similarities — towering legs, toned abs, arresting (often light) eyes, a waterfall of “beachy waves.” Today, a new guard of Brazilian women with beauty influence has refreshingly less in common. Meet Magá, Nathalie, Letticia, Daniele, and Roberta.

Magà Moura

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Courtesy Magà Moura

Moura, an influencer from Bahia, will wear bubblegum-pink braids laced with beads one day, and blue lipstick and green locs the next. She’ll sport every color a pixie stick comes in, all at once (her hair, her Nikes, her nails). She’s as disarmingly warm as she is effortlessly cool (she taught herself English by listening to Jay Z and Eminem). But she wasn’t always this self-possessed: 

“Growing up, there weren’t Black girls on television, in magazines. I didn’t know about my Blackness,” Moura says. “White, blonde girls with blue eyes, green eyes, this was the stereotype of beauty.” As a teenager, after nearly a decade of chemical straightening (“all the Black moms put relaxers on their kids because they knew about the bullying [we could face]”), her hair began to fall out. 

Her sister suggested she see a Black stylist, who did a braided style on Moura’s damaged hair. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m Black! I want to be this girl I’m seeing in the mirror.'” From then on, Moura began wearing colorful piles of braids, locs, and curls. Her look was received well in places like London, where Moura briefly lived in 2012, but Brazilians tended to bristle at it. She worked as a marketing analyst at a clothing brand and was told she couldn’t be taken seriously with her hairstyles. Happily, Moura says, those biases are being corrected. “Girls are no longer afraid to embrace their hair. Now it’s like, ‘I’m Black, I’m proud, I’m beautiful.’ This is my Black power. These are my braids.”

Nathalie Billio

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Courtesy Nathalie Billio
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