Duloren: Do YOU Feel Powerful?
What would you do to sell lingerie? Make incredibly racist, homophobic, sexist ads? Thought so. Or at least, that’s what the Brazilian underwear brand Duloren has been doing. With their ad campaign captioned “You can’t imagine what a Duloren is capable of doing,” they have made all sorts of ads trying to give us an idea, whether it be a woman who is apparently capable of exorcising someone in a bra and panties, a woman who can pose in front of a Brazilian flag for Independence Day, or two women who can kiss while in their panties. This particular ad is captioned “Homoaffective relationships are approved. Really? I thought that we were already free to do whatever we wanted,” and made 100% for men fantasizing about lesbian women. They even go so far as to use the Brazilian goddess Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea, in one of their ads, suggesting that “You can’t imagine what a Duloren is capable of.” She could even be Iemanjá.
But perhaps the worst ad of theirs that I have seen yet is the one above. Just to give a little context, the ad is referring to the fact that the last two major, centrally-located favelas of Rio de Janeiro were recently pacified last fall. The pacification process in Rio was very controversial, starting at the same time as other preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games. I would explain a bit more about how favela’s functioned before and after the pacification, but my friend, the amazing writer and photographer Michael Wolff does a much better job of it in the following quote from his blog:
“Well-armed criminal organizations have dominated the politics and social order in these areas since the 1980s, replacing or precluding the State in its most basic functions. Although they tend to provide some form of public security within their communities, these criminal organizations both invite high levels of factional violence and impede social and economic development. Further, their existence corrodes the legitimacy of state institutions, politicians as well as police. The historical lack of political will to avoid or reverse this reality is at least partially due to the collusion of state authorities and institutions in the lucrative trafficking of illegal arms and drugs. Rio de Janeiro’s selection to host the World Cup games and the Olympics, however, has altered the political landscape in favor of a comprehensive plan to impose State control in all areas of the city.”
This is all to explain what you are seeing in this image: a black woman dressed in Duloren underwear, having just finished “dominating” the white UPP (Police Pacification Unit) officer laying on the ground. The caption reads “Pacifying is easy. I want to see you dominate.” The smaller text on the bottom tells us that this woman’s name is Ana Paula da Conceição Soares, and that she works in a waxing salon in Rocinha, Rio’s largest and most notorious favela. In other words, she is the ultimate stereotype of a favela inhabitant.
This ad relies on the intersection of classicism, sexism, and racism to work. What we are told is that this woman, having in many ways lost her liberty and power to a white police man through the “pacification” and invasion of her community, feels the need to regain that power. And that as a poor, black woman living in a favela, the only way she has to do that is to use her sexual prowess and seduce him into submission. Duloren’s underwear helps her out there. This idea calls on a long history of sexualizing the mulatta as the temptress and mistress, the woman meant for sex but not for marriage. Or otherwise put, the woman whose sole purpose is as a sexual object.
I’m sorry Duloren, but this image does not make me feel in the least bit powerful. Nor does her ability to “dominate” a UPP officer make me see her as powerful. Really, it just disgusts me that you really think she is in fact so powerless.
To check out another ad analysis discussing the Brazilian stereotype of the mulatta, go here.