Sensual Not Beautiful: The Mulata as Erotic Spectacle

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Women on 2019-07-11 17:46Z by Steven

Sensual Not Beautiful: The Mulata as Erotic Spectacle

ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America
Spring 2017 (Black is Beautiful)

Jasmine Mitchell, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Media Studies
State University of New York, Old Westbury

iconic dancer
The iconic mulata female body is portrayed in Brazil as glistening brown. Photo courtesy of Jasmine Mitchell.

While white actresses and models still dominate beauty and fashion magazines in Brazil, on my last few visits to Brazil, I’ve noticed that actresses of African descent such as Camila Pitanga and Taís Araújo have also graced the covers. Since 2009, both actresses have also starred in telenovelas. Miss Brazil 2016 is the first black winner since Deise Nunes’s crowning in 1986. The 2016 competition had the largest number of black candidates in its history. The dominant conceptualizations of beauty in Brazil are shifting. Erika Moura, the Mulata Globeleza of 2017, did not appear as a bodypainted nude Rio de Janeiro samba dancer, but instead performed in various costumes and dance styles representing a breadth of Brazilian regional cultures.

It’s certainly not been this way for very long. In 2001, on my first trip to Brazil, I yearned to find a refuge, a place where my background as a mixed-race black woman from the United States was neither exotic nor fetishized. Relying on Brazil’s reputed celebration of racial mixing, I believed that it would become my racial paradise in which brown was beautiful and I would find a resistance to the exclusivity of white U.S. beauty norms.

Instead, I became familiar with a Brazilian saying, “Branca para casar, mulata para fornicar, negra para trabalhar (white women for marriage, mulata women for sex, black women for work).”…

Read the entire article here.

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Pure Beauty: Judging Race in Japanese American Beauty Pageants

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2009-11-05 02:08Z by Steven

Pure Beauty: Judging Race in Japanese American Beauty Pageants

University of Minnesota Press
280 pages, 6 halftones, 10 tables
5 7⁄8 x 9
Paper ISBN: 0-8166-4790-9
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4790-3
Cloth ISBN: 0-8166-4789-5
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4789-7

Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Lecturer in Sociology
National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Examines the question, Who is Japanese American?

With a low rate of immigration and a high rate of interracial marriage, Japanese Americans today compose the Asian ethnic group with the largest proportion of mixed-race members. Within Japanese American communities, increased participation by mixed-race members, along with concerns about overassimilation, has led to a search for cultural authenticity, giving new answers to the question, Who is Japanese American?

In Pure Beauty, Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain tackles this question by studying a cultural institution: Japanese American community beauty pageants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Honolulu. King-O’Riain employs rich ethnographic fieldwork to discover how these pageants seek to maintain racial and ethnic purity amid shifting notions of cultural identity. She uses revealing in-depth interviews with candidates, queens, and community members, her experiences as a pageant committee member, and archival research—including Japanese and English newspapers, museum collections, private photo albums, and mementos—to establish both the importance and impossibility of racial purity. King-O’Riain examines racial eligibility rules and tests, which encompass not only ancestry but also residency, community service, and culture, and traces the history of pageants throughout the United States. Pure Beauty shows how racial and gendered meanings are enacted through the pageants, and reveals their impact on Japanese American men, women, and children.

King-O’Riain concludes that the mixed-race challenge to racial understandings of Japanese Americanness does not necessarily mean an end to race as we know it and asserts that race is work—created and re-created in a social context. Ultimately, she determines that the concept of race, fragile though it may be, is still one of the categories by which Japanese Americans are judged.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction: Negotiating Racial Hybridity in Community Beauty Pageants
  1. Race Work and the Effort of Racial Claims
  2. The Japanese American Community in Transition
  3. Japanese American Beauty Pageants in Historical Perspective
  4. Cultural Impostors and Eggs: Race without Culture and Culture without Race
  5. Patrolling Bodies: The Social Control of Race through Gender
  6. The “Ambassadress” Queen: Moving Authentically between Racial Communities in the United States and Japan
  7. Percentages, Parts, and Power: Racial Eligibility Rules and Local Versions of Japanese Americanness in Context
  • Conclusion: Japanese Americanness, Beauty Pageants, and Race Work
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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