Black girls love to tan. Sounds crazy? Well, maybe for Non- Brazilians. Brazilians, specifically Cariocas (people from the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) love to tan, they call it “Bronzeia”.
All over the city you can find parlors specifically for “Bronzeamento” (tanning treatment). When the sun is high and it’s a booming 95°, these places are packed with women laying in the sun in an open space. They have the “fita” (tape that is cut out into the shape of a bikini), the bronzeador (a bronzing cream made of beets, carrot, coconut oil and suntan lotion) and a cool carrot and beet beverage. After laying in the sun for two hours, the tape is then cut off, and you’re left with a bikini tan line, also known as a “marquinha”. But the parlors aren’t the only places people love to tan, of course you’ll see people bronzing on the beach on a Sunday.
Sundays are the best beach days in Rio de Janeiro— well everyday is a beach day, but Sundays it’s jammed packed. It’s apart of the Carioca beach culture. I remember my Brazilian friend and I going to the beach on Sundays, she’d share her tanning oil with me, we’d lay there and activate our melanin. She
preferred the beach over the tanning parlor. She felt like the cut out bikini marquinhas looked superficial, and believe it or not some men would say they don’t like the fita look either.
I’ve never seen so many dark skin black women have a huge desire to be darker than they already are.
As a dark skin Black Woman from the United States, I’ve always loved to get darker in the summertime time, which is kind of uncommon in my culture. We’re literally told to stay out of the sun. We’re told to not wear bright colors, like yellow. Living in Rio de Janeiro was like a paradise for Black Girls like me, who love to tan, who want to be BLACKER. And even the men there find it sexier. Men go crazy over the marquinhas on ladies. Bright colors like White, Pink, Yellow contrasting against your dark skin, will definitely turn heads. In the USA, many Black People see it
as something white women do, because we figure as Black people we’re already dark, and don’t need to be darker. As a culture, people tend to run from the sun. I remember dating a lighter skinned black man in the states and he would beg for us not to be outside during the summer because he wanted to stay light. I often heard this from black people throughout my life. I even had some other black men scold me for finding darker skin attractive and thought it was weird that the circle I was in would run to the beach begging the sun to get our melanin poppin’. My circle always enjoys the sun and loves to get darker, but we’re such a small bunch in comparison to the sensation of tanning culture in Rio de Janeiro. It’s like it’s apart of fashion there.
Days before Carnival or even at the beginning of the summer in Rio de Janeiro, women (including myself) would run to the beach or the parlor to activate that melanin, just like you’d get your nails or hair done ritually. You’ll see passistas (professional samba dancers of a Samba School Institution) showing off their tan lines at rehearsal or on the avenue.
Tanning is apart of your beauty rituals there. Nails, hair, eyebrows, waxing and tanning! It’s all fashion! And it’s a beautiful fashion aspect on Black girls. I’ve never seen so many dark skin black women have a huge desire to be darker than they already are. Now of course in Rio all races tan, but it’s something special and something revolutionary about seeing Black people go against the trending grain of bleaching, and get darker instead.