Gringo Stereotypes for Brazil: What Do We Really Think?

gringo stereotypesBRAZILIANS are INDIANS that live either in the AMAZON RAINFOREST (which really BELONGS TO THE U.S.A.) or on the beaches of RIO in either GRASS HUTS or FAVELAS. The only things they care about are CARNIVAL, SAMBA & FOOTBALL.

Their WOMEN are all DARK-SKINNED, BEAUTIFUL, SEXY, EASY to get in bed, with BIG BUTTS and walk around NAKED in public. Brazilians eat FRUIT DIRECTLY FROM THE TREES, play SOCCER all day long on dirt fields while listening to SAMBA, drinking CAIPIRINHAS and playing with their PET MONKEYS.

All Their politicians are CORRUPT, their streets are all DANGEROUS, their idols are PELÉ & RONALDINHO, and they speak SPANISH as their native tongue. And of course, BUENOS AIRES is the capital of Brazil.

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How do you feel after reading all those stereotypes? Did you get mad? Take a deep breath and relax. This list of stereotypes did not come from gringos. This is actually a collection of negative stereotypes that Brazilians themselves reported when asked about what foreigners think about Brazil.

The big question, why all the pessimism? Brazilians are one of the most loved peoples in the world. Show me the love! Today I’m going to challenge you to take a hard look at your beliefs and ask you to reconsider some important questions that may drastically change the way you look at the Brazilian place in the world:

  • What do Brazilians think the world thinks about Brazil?
  • What does the world really think about Brazil?
  • And finally, one gringo’s attempt at a balanced perspective.

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What Brazilians Think the World Thinks

A lot of Brazilians believe that the above list is an accurate representation of what the rest of the world really thinks about them.  Just to be clear, this is not what I think about Brazil. Frankly, I’ve never met anybody so ignorant or malicious to believe more than a few of them. This is such a controversial topic, about which Brazilians love to talk, argue, vent and above all, exaggerate.

It´s an extremely popular but delicate issue that has popped up again and again in the RealLife English International Community (an international English learning community where people come together to practice via video chat connections). Today I’m going to show both sides and try to suggest a more balanced truth as to what the rest of the world thinks.

Try This Perspective

BRAZILIANS are the most FRIENDLY people in the world, forming a RICH & DIVERSE CULTURE that knows how to ENJOY life. The AMAZON RAIN FOREST is the LUNG OF THE WORLD, with huge BIODIVERSITY and FASCINATING indigenous HERITAGE that needs to be CELEBRATED and PROTECTED.

The world knows Brazil for being the top FOOTBALL COUNTRY with HEROES like PELÉ & RONALDINHO that greatly INFLUENCED the history of soccer around the world.  Brazil knows how to PARTY and how to CELEBRATE its BEAUTIFUL CULTURE with many FESTIVITIES throughout the year such as CARNAVAL.  The WORLD IS AMAZED by cultural expressions like SAMBA and CAPOEIRA. RIO DE JANEIRO is one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES IN THE WORLD, with MARVELOUS BEACHES and everybody wants to visit CRISTO REDENTOR.

Brazil is known for its INCREDIBLE MUSIC, DELICIOUS FOOD, including mouth-watering FRUITS, as well as world-renowned BARBECUES and FEIJOADA.  Brazilian WOMEN are known to be among the SWEETEST, MOST BEAUTIFUL & SENSUAL WOMEN in the world.

Positive Stereotypes of Brazil

This is a collection of the positive stereotypes about Brazil that many gringos, including myself, believe about Brazil and Brazilians. I grew up near Seattle, U.S.A. acquiring a lot these ideas long before I even stepped on Brazilian soil.

Even though I had only met three or four Brazilians before my twentieth birthday, the vast majority of the things I had heard about Brazil were positive, and the Brazilians I met along the way only reinforced this positive viewpoint as pleasant people. And no, I was never taught that the Amazon Rain Forest belonged to the U.S. (nor had I ever heard of this happening until a few Brazilians vehemently told me that this happens in the U.S. Until now, this still seems absurd to me).

Of course, even the positive side doesn’t represent an impartial perspective, as I was a dreamer with my eyes set on Brazil, but the positive stereotypes written here, in my opinion, reflect a much more accurate international perception of Brazil than the negative ones that a lot of Brazilians carry.

Honestly, I was always fascinated by Brazil. The two exchange students at my high school were really nice people and through the documentaries, movies, and other aspects communicated about Brazil through the American media, I became amazed by Rio, the Amazon Rain Forest, Samba and stories of Capoeira. I bought a poster of Cristo Redentor when I was in college and hung it on my wall as I dreamed of future adventures.

Was my perception of Brazil totally accurate? NO! But it made sense to me and my upbringing, and it wasn´t negative. My stereotypes were molded by Brazil’s international fame as put forth by the media that I was exposed to (largely about Carnaval, the Amazon Rain Forest, and Rio), and the handful of Brazilians I met. Not everything I believed was true. I was ignorant to a lot.

For example, I remember being surprised when in college I met a blonde girl from the South of Brazil. That was embarrassing, but my mistake makes sense when you consider how Brazil was presented in the American media. I´m not excusing such glaring ignorance, but the media rarely showed blonde Brazilians, and in the United States we didn’t learn about European immigration in Southern Brazil or the ethnic makeup of Brazilians.

But, even with my ignorant points, I loved Brazilian culture, and I still do. Brazil is something I dreamed about for years and my perspective was built with the positive experiences that I searched for. I know that my perceptions are colored by my experiences and not by other peoples’, which is to say that reality is subjective. I represent the positive side of the spectrum, but in sober reflection, I know there is another side.

One Gringo’s Humble, Balanced Truth

Brazil is another country with its own mix of positive and negative perspectives. In many ways, and for many people, Brazil is one of the brightest lights in the world, but for others, it’s just another third-world Latin American country with big problems. A lot of people love Brazil, with good reasons, because Brazilians are nice, charismatic and interesting, but others only see the problems: corruption, crime and inequality, among others.

There are a lot of misconceptions, but most of these don’t come from malice, but rather from ignorance, and the fact that people tend to generalize what they see in the mass media. Even if it´s difficult to accept, most Brazilians do the same thing with other countries. I’m American and most people, whether they see it or not, come at me with preconceptions that range from “America the glorious land of Hollywood, public order and happy people” to “America, the Great Satan that rapes and pillages the rest of the world to  drill for oil.”

The truth is somewhere in the middle. The U.S. has a lot of serious problems with international relations, but there’s a lot of really awesome stuff about my country and people too. Not to recognize this is a mistake.

With Brazil, some of the most interesting aspects in the eyes of the rest of the world really are the Amazon Rain Forest, Rio de Janeiro, and Soccer. You guys are only one of the best soccer countries in the world. Even if you don´t play soccer, or dance samba, you don´t have to be offended if people think you do. It is not a bad thing.

Brazilians could embrace this ignorance (or learning process) with patience for the rest of the world, and recognize that sometimes people haven’t been privileged to have the opportunity to learn about other aspects of Brazil, and that maybe these stereotypes represent interest in you and your culture rather than apathy.

This represents your opportunity to be an ambassador for your country and culture and unveil the countless other amazing and interesting aspects of Brazil and Brazilians.

If you liked this article, you can like it below, and/or become an official member of the RealLife English International Community by providing your e-mail in the box below. It’s a free and open social network for English speakers and learners, based in BH, where you can learn and practice English with foreigners and Brazilians, using community, culture and meaningful relationships. With your free membership, you will receive an invitation into our International Facebook Community, in addition to future Real Life English in person meetings.

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  • Dan Dan says:

    Another article to placate the whingeing whiney Brazilians who LOVE to perpetuate stereotypes about other countries (they divide the whole world between Brazilians and Gringos FFS) but can’t handle it when generalisations are made about them.
    Want us to stop thinking that Brazil is only girls in bikinis? How about you change your own society to reflect that instead of having EVERY tv show made up of an old man in a suit surrounded by silent dancing girls in bikinis. How about in February, you objectify a naked white man for Globeleza instead of a black girl in body-paint for the 100th year in a row.
    When whiney Brazilians stop calling me European or American (Australia is in neither of those places), when they stop asking what language we speak in Australia, when they stop asking if I have a pet kangaroo, when they stop assuming that I am rich because I have blue eyes – then maybe I might give a fuck that somebody thinks the capital is Buenos Aires.
    Brazilian hypocrites? What a surprise…..

  • Dan Dan says:

    That’s because when you turn on the tv here in Brazil, every tv show is an old man in a suit surrounded by women in bikinis.
    Brazil is a super-machista society where women are allowed to go to the office in a mini-skirt (because female skin is pleasing to men, thus to society) but a man cannot wear shorts (or expose any part of his leg skin) even though it’s 40 degrees outside.
    Parem de hipocrisia, brasileiros!!!

  • Pinm Ponhan says:

    Who cares! Don’t glorify what the crackheads say!

  • Moisés says:

    There’s another hollyday in the midlle of the yaer Called ‘São João’ full of tipical foods based on corn and the dance it is worth look for it is a an amazing hollyday.

  • Ricardo Rocha says:

    Just a correction: Amazon is not the a lung of the world. That’s a misconception built through the years.

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Ricardo – it is not 😉