Published On: August 2, 2017

Não Means No

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By Nathalia Vargas

Not once in my teenage years have I felt disfavored for being a woman. Contrarily, a young woman like myself was expected to succeed academically, practice sports, experiment with the arts, choose a strong college program and career path, and conquer the world. She should know how to stand up for herself, have a firm opinion on important matters, and make whichever decision she judged best. As a matter of fact, a young woman was expected to have all the aspirations a young man would. The notion of women = men (good ol’ feminism) was purely logical in my brain, and it baffled me that some people around the world could think otherwise.

You may be thinking I must have been born in a developed nation where mottoes such as “women’s rights are human rights” are merely common sense. That’s where the catch is – I was born in Brazil – a developing nation where women are stereotyped for their figures, their bathing suits, and their grooming choices. And yet, it’s the place where I feel the most empowered. In this post, I intend to explore this paradox and take a humble guess at its causes.

I grew up in southern Brazil, in the beautiful city of Curitiba, and my development into a young adult was guided by two central female figures and two central male figures: my amazing parents and my beloved maternal grandparents. I am certain that the examples set by them have molded my beliefs. Each one of my role models has contradicted the other on occasion, but in one regard they were very consistent in their teaching: I had to learn to stand up for myself and fight for what I believe is fair.


A campaign ad from Curitiba during the World Cup in 2014

As the years passed, my city also became an important asset in molding the feminism of my generation. Swimming against the current of the country, campaigns empowering women and talking about women’s contributions were common across Curitiba’s schools and universities; private establishments have recently joined the conversation as well.

In a type of sorority that has nothing to do with Greek letters, my female friends and I always supported and defended each other. We grew up to be strong women with little patience for prejudice and stereotypes. Equally, my male friends were there through it all, to watch us, support us, and say how awesome we were. They knew not to take our causes into their own hands, that we have to fight our own battles so that the true message comes across.

Just like my friends and I, many young adults in Curitiba have grown up knowing to stand for what they believe in, and the fruits of this virtue are evident in a variety of forms.

“Never look down” sticker, by Puta Peita brand from Curitiba

“Never look down” sticker, by Puta Peita brand from Curitiba

Puta Peita (slang for “awesome T-shirt”) is a new Curitiba brand that brings the feminist spirit into the form of clothing products. The women involved in this project are producing stickers, baby onesies, T-shirts, bags, and posters with the same powerful phrases seen across the globe during the women’s march earlier this year.

“Work like a girl,” “Tattoo like a girl,” and “Never look down” are a few of the messages broadcast to the world through Puta Peita products in a brilliant example of how brands can reach minds and, little by little, mold our society.

 In a friendly chat with the brand-makers at Puta Peita, we found out the managers are delightfully surprised by the responsiveness of the public to their products. “There was no need to introduce a context before launching the products”, they said. “Everyone can relate to our statement and this collective empathy that we’ve been observing is beyond wonderful.”

As they proclaimed, this is not merely a T-shirt (“não é só uma brusinha” in Portuguese slang). Hopefully, someone wearing a “work like a girl” product will inspire a meaningful discussion among acquaintances during a gathering at the local bar.

"Fight like a girl" onesie, by Puta Peita

“Fight like a girl” onesie, by Puta Peita

A strong initiative by one of the most popular bars on Vicente Machado Avenue in Curitiba should not go unappreciated when the topic is women’s power. The hip youth of Curitiba take over Vicente Machado at night, enjoying good food, music, and drinks provided by the small and welcoming establishments of the neighborhood. “Pizza”, a bar specializing in specialty beers and, yes, you guessed it, pizza, launched the “Girls Commanding Pizza” campaign, which seeks to empower the ladies on both sides of the bar. Their campaign poster reads: “Know your place. To be serving you does not make us close.”

Pizza told us the reason behind the initiative: “We realized most of the girls who work here had suffered some sort of verbal abuse during their shifts . . . so we created the campaign to reinforce the idea that our servers have the right to tell off abusive clients. It doesn’t matter if they are paying customers. And it makes it pretty clear that our girls are ‘not on the menu.’ ”

Campaign poster from Curitiba restaurant, Pizza

Campaign poster from Curitiba restaurant, Pizza

Proposals like the ones from the World Cup Campaign, Puta Peita, and Pizza are slowly but surely guiding the current generation and setting a solid foundation for future generations. It is relieving and humbling to see Curitiba absorbing equality into its core values and finding new ways to carry the message to the rest of the world.

I feel privileged to have been raised in such a positive environment. Family, friends, and my city have collaborated to create the sense of feminism I have within me and that I am constantly looking to translate into actions and examples. Curitiba, a capital of powerful women.


NathaliaNathalia Vargas was born and raised in Brazil and currently lives in the U.S. Moving to North America has made her realize how much she identifies with her native land and given her a new perspective on life. She is majoring in business at Georgia State University and is an admirer of all things language related. She has a strong background in Portuguese grammar that she uses to improve her English.




[Photos: Instagram @pizzacwb & @putapeita]

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