Adidas scores freak own goal
Last week Adidas committed an epic fail when it launched two highly suggestive t-shirts supposedly commemorating the World Cup. One featured a bikini-clad woman with exaggerated physical assets and the words “lookin’ to score”, while the other said “I ♥ Brazil”, the heart being the upside-down buttocks of a woman wearing a thong.
The ‘celebratory’ intent soon backfired, as Brazilians took offence en masse for the gross stereotyping.
Even Embratur, the Brazilian Tourism Board, stepped in to criticise the initiative. “The Brazilian Government strongly repudiates the sale of products that link Brazil’s image to sexual appeal”, they claimed.
Can you imagine if the heart-shaped buttocks caught on and became representative of Brazil, in the same way that Mickey Mouse’s ears symbolise Disney? I’d rather not!
The hypersexualisation of Brazilians (of both women and men) is so commonplace that it hardly shocks me. Yet I find it repulsive. The theme goes round and round and resurfaces every now and then, showing its ugly face. I have often written about it, such as in the 2012 piece entitled The Wild and Rapturous Sex Life of Brazilians.
And yet again I experience this in my own life. Just yesterday my new flatmate told me that his friends were very keen to meet me and spend the evening in my bedroom – upon finding out that I am Brazilian. They had not further information about me, and they had never even seen my picture. They must have thought: “he is Brazilian, so he is hot and easily available”.
I explained to him that the comment was anything but complimentary, that it said more about his friends’ ignorance than about the sexuality of Brazilians. I said that his friends should take off their colonial lenses. The majority of Brazilians is neither sexually available nor liberated. In reality, Brazilians are far more prudish than Brits and Europeans in general.
There is nothing wrong about sex and being sexy, and I am delighted to be deemed attractive. The problem is that Brazilians are often objectified and diminished to an alleged extravagant sexuality and promiscuity. In short, I don’t want to be anyone’s sex trophy or taxidermy.
The Adidas raunchy t-shirts are extremely distasteful but not surprising. They are just an attempt to capitalise on the twisted views that most foreigners have of Brazilians. As twisted as the lines on the body of the woman “lookin’ to score” emblazoned on the t-shirts.
The attempt to build an image of Brazil as a libidinous paradise is just as toxic and misguided as the sexism that reduces women to housewives or the racism that diminishes blacks to servants. It’s prejudice disguised as celebration.
I am glad that Adidas stopped selling these ridiculous shirts. Otherwise, what would come next? Hasbro selling Pelé golliwogs?