Negahamburguer's Street Art Raises the Self-Esteem of Brazilian Women

Projeto Beleza Real (Real Beauty Project)

Projeto Beleza Real (Real Beauty Project)

[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages, except when otherwise noted.]

Evelyn Queiroz, better known as Negahamburguer, started Project Beleza Real (Real Beauty) four years ago. The project is made up of a series of urban interventions based on statements, commentary and thanks that she has received on her blog, Negahamburguer.

In her graffiti, twenty-four-year-old Negahamburguer spreads messages of love for women that live in conflict with themselves for having voluminous or “plain” bodies and end up having to cope with insecurity and rejection.

Those who have walked through the steets of the Zona Sul [en] (South Zone) neighbourhood of the city of São Paulo could already have encountered works of graffiti depicting women with bodies that are less than conventional according to accepted standards of beauty, especially those of Brazilian society.

"Aceite seu corpo!" (Accept your body!)

“Aceite seu corpo!” (Accept your body!)

Resident of the famed Brazilian city of artists and artisans, Embu das Artes [en], Negahamburguer spoke with Global Voices by email:

Na verdade comecei a receber os relatos em meio a elogios do trabalho. [Elas] me escrevem falando da identificação e do porque se sentiam parte [disso] e assim junto com histórias reais. Tenho ações como grafite, sticker [adesivos] e lambe [colar cartazes]. Tem poucos ainda porque eu trabalhava e não dava tempo. Agora estou começando a me programar para fazer mais por semana. Estão praticamente todos na Zona Sul de São Paulo. A ideia era ter esse material além do virtual, para que ele pudesse ser mais propagado e chegar a mais pessoas. O livro será todo em aquarela.

Actually, I began to receive the stories along with compliments on my work. [My readers] wrote me about identification and why they felt like they were part of this along with their own real-life stories. I have mediums such as graffiti, stickers, and colour posters. There are only a few right now because I was working and didn't have time. Now I am starting to organise my time to do more each week. Practically all of them are in the Zona Sul of São Paulo. The idea was to have this material outside the virtual world so that it could be spread and reach more people. The book will be done in watercolour.

Below are some of the works of graffiti by Negahamburguer, inspired by stories from the readers of her blog:

Eu peso 120kg e vivo numa luta diária comigo mesma, eu me odeio. eu tento de todas as formas aceitar o meu corpo… mas é muito difícil. e em casa é uma pressão muito grande por parte da minha familia para que eu emagreça, na escola, com os amigos… a pressão está comigo 24h, aonde quer que eu vá (…) Eu vim pra casa, chorei e quase tentei me matar (mais uma vez…)
E todos os dias, todos os dias eu lembro disso… essa frase não sai da minha cabeça “eu nao sinto tesão por você”, isso está me matando, sabe? (…) Bom, esse é o meu relato… é também um desabafo. eu tinha que contar isso pra alguém. ): Obrigada por existir, nega. seu trabalho aos poucos está me levando ao caminho da aceitação… de verdade. obrigada..

I weigh 120kg (265lbs) and I live in a daily struggle with myself. I hate myself. I have tried every way possible to accept my body, but it's very difficult. And at home there's a lot of pressure from my family for me to lose weight, at school, with my friends. The pressure is with me 24 hours a day, wherever I go (…) I came home, cried, and almost tried to kill myself (again…)
And every day, every day I remember this. The phrase doesn't leave my mind: “I'm not attracted to you”.It kills me, you know? (…) Well, that's my story. It's also a relief. I had to tell someone. :( Thank you for existing, Nega. Your work is helping me to accept myself little by little… really. Thank you.

"Ser linda assim é um tesão" (Being beautiful like this is a turn-on)

“Ser linda assim é um tesão” (Being beautiful like this is a turn-on)

(…) Estou namorando há oito meses e me sinto muito bem, mas no começo do namoro fiquei muito incomodada com uma garota que mora na mesma casa que meu namorado (Casa do Estudante Universitário).
Ela disse que era muito bonito ele “me assumir”, tipo namorar uma garota gorda é um favor, uma ‘boa ação’, a forma como ela se colocou (com seus padrões estéticos bem definidos) foi que ela nunca imaginaria que um homem como meu namorado preferisse a mim do que a ela, se referindo a forma física mesmo (…) Só tenho convicção de uma coisa EU NÃO PRECISO SER MAGRA PARA SER FELIZ.

I have been with someone for eight months and I feel very good, but at the beginning of the relationship I felt very uncomfortable with a girl that lives in the same house as my boyfriend (university student housing). She said that it was very nice for him to “take me on”, as if dating a fat girl is a favour, an “honourable action”, such that she (with her aesthetic standards very well-defined) could never imagine that a man like my boyfriend would prefer to be with me instead of her, with respect to physical appearance (…) I just have one belief, that I DON'T NEED TO BE THIN TO BE HAPPY.

"A coisa mais gostosa é sentir amor ao se olhar no espelho" (The most wonderful thing is feeling love when looking in the mirror)

“A coisa mais gostosa é sentir amor ao se olhar no espelho” (The most wonderful thing is feeling love when looking in the mirror)

Há coisas muito engraçadas nessa sociedade, sabe?
Desde sempre fui gorda e, assim como eu, minha irmã. Todos pegavam em nosso pé, diziam que éramos lindas, mas que se emagrecêssemos “arrumaríamos” qualquer homem que a gente desejasse. Daí, aprendi a ver milhares de defeitos em mim mesma (…) Ninguém me amou verdadeiramente até eu me aceitar e me amar, até meu amor próprio virar incondicional e eu já não precisar de amor alheio para me sentir completa. Hoje tenho uma pessoa linda e maravilhosa ao meu lado que me respeita, me enche de amor e que ama meu corpinho no formato “ampulheta”. KKK. E a sociedade nunca estará satisfeita, visse?

There are a lot of funny things in this society, you know?
I have always been fat and, just like me, my sister is too. Everybody was always after us, saying that we were pretty, but if we lost weight, “fixed ourselves up”, then any man would desire us. From then on, I learned to see thousands of defects in myself (…) Nobody truly loved me until I learned to accept and love myself, until that self love became unconditional and I no longer needed another's love to feel complete. Today I have a beautiful and wonderful person at my side that respects me, fills me with love and that loves my body in its “hourglass” format. Lol. And society will never be satisfied, you see?

"Meu tamanho é lindo! Meu peso é ideal!" (My size is beautiful! My weight is ideal!)

“Meu tamanho é lindo! Meu peso é ideal!” (My size is beautiful! My weight is ideal!)

Between the idea of the blog, the Facebook page, and the graffiti on the street, the only thing missing was a book, which will be released shortly and will be funded through a crowfunding site, Catarse. The project has already received more than the established budget, 20,000 Brazilian Reais (approximately 9,130 US dollars), and still has more than 30 days to continue receiving contributions.

All images of Negahamburguer's graffiti were published with permission.

This post was proofread in English by Georgi McCarthy.

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