Simpson Goes South: The Price of Beauty Goes to Brazil

26 Apr

As most of you know, I lived in Brazil for a while and have been several times. On top of that, I’m well-read in racial, cultural, and class issues within the country. Because of this, I became a little anxious when I saw that The Price of Beauty, the show hosted by Jessica Simpson that covers the diverse variety of beauty-related norms within different cultures, would be going to Brazil. In a strange way, I am very “protective” of the Brazilian image. I find that as a result of rampant stereotypes in the media, I become annoyed when I feel that one media source or another is going down the same path. I think even others are so ignorant of certain issues there that even one tries to present fair cause for the stereotypes that have been set (as I once did in a series I did for Racialicious on Beauty in Brazil), it goes awry because people are so blinded by the stereotypes themselves that it’s hard to get to the root of them and where they came from.

For example, in the opening of the introduction for the series, I noted that many people, upon discovering that I was going to Brazil and/or had just gotten back from living there, always asked about how “hot” the women were, a question that I found offensive and steeped in stereotypes (via the media) that have become hardened like resin in many the American mind. In refuting these claims and then thus trying to clarify the pressures for many Brazilian women to maintain a certain image, some (in not having fully read the piece) assumed that I was working to reiterate said stereotype (which couldn’t be further from the truth).

There’s certainly a possibility that I am approaching this coverage of Brazil via Simpson’s show with the same equally unjust pre-emptive caution and bias. There’s certainly a possibility that the show will fairly cover beauty norms in Brazil while not simultaneously reinforcing a stereotype. But as most pop culture takes on diversity and other nations’ traditions go, I have a feeling I might be proven right. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they truly cover the stories with some validity and not solely focus on waxing and tanning. I also hope that they go beyond Rio for their coverage (at least in narrative). But I suppose there is only one way to find out.

check out the sneak preview of tonight’s epipsode

The Price of Beauty airs Mondays at 10 pm EST/9 pm CST.

– Retail DJ


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