I had woken up in such a good mood this morning until I naively decided to read some good-old sensationalist Italian media. An article on the first page of the online version of the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s main newspaper, has decided to give overwhelming attention to the thoughtless and disrespectful decision of Nana Gouvêa, a Brazilian model, who went around New York City in the aftermath of Sandy posing next to debris and uprooted trees as if she were standing on a beach in Ipanema rather than on a hurricane torn city. Now, I’m not here to discuss about Nana Gouvêa’s stupidity, who for sure has to do some real soul-searching about her need for visibility. What I’m here to discuss is that I have never read one single article on the Italian media that does not play down the image of Brazilian women, often resorting to offensive stereotypes, which portray them as pretty but stupid. Think I’m exaggerating? Just check the archives of any of these online newspapers (Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, etc) and this is the image that will always emerge, when it isn’t much worse.
This article from the Corriere was the last drop for me. Having lived in Italy and knowing how these strong stereotypes can really affect the lives of Brazilian women who are bright and talented and yet have to live with the daily kind of phrases in Italy:
“Lei è brasiliana, ma è una brava brasiliana” (she’s Brazilian but she’s a smart/good Brazilian) as if the adjective “good” had to be used to explain a Brazilian being normal or;
“Non sembri brasiliana, sei così simpatica” (you don’t seem Brazilian, you are so nice) as if being Brazilian meant something wrong or bad.
So how can we help to break down these stereotypes and show an accurate picture of the Brazilian society with its good and bad examples that have nothing to do with the nationality per se but rather with individuals and their own personal choices? Simple, the power of citizen media is growing and it’s becoming a concrete voice of opposition against one-sided conventional media stories that prefer to build audience rather than inform responsibly their readers.
If you don’t believe in the stereotyping of any kind of nationality/gender then share this and add your own personal story, no matter where you are from.