Anitta at a performance in downtown Rio de Janeiro in 2020: "It makes me sad when other women judge my lifestyle"
Photo: Carlos Santtos / Fotoarena / imago images
She wants to be everything: feminist, bisexual LGBTQ representative, black lives matter activist and opponent of Bolsonaro.
The Brazilian singer Anitta grew up in a favela in Rio de Janeiro and sang in the church choir as a child.
Today she is one of the biggest pop stars in Latin America and dances, for example, with the American rapper Cardi B through video clips, rarely wearing more than a tiny bikini.
Her accessories include well-trained boys and huge bananas that she rides on.
Anitta, 28, whose real name is Larissa de Macedo Machado, has perfected her sexualization - and sees it as freedom.
She has undergone numerous cosmetic surgeries and celebrates showing her cellulite in her videos.
She sees no contradiction in this.
Anitta at the Latin Grammy Awards in Florida (May 3)
Photo: John Parra / Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy
Her new song "Girl from Rio" is a reference to the song "The Girl from Ipanema" by Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the most famous Bossa nova songs.
Jobim describes a girl on the beach, her body, her elegant walk.
Anitta speaks from the perspective of the »girls«, sings: »We don't look like models where I come from«, speaks of curves and tan lines, of life in the favela, of brothers you meet at some point because your father cheated on them.
"I'm a favela," she sings.
She wants to turn the male view of the female body around, to appropriate it, and yet seems to remain trapped in it.
Anitta has more than 50 million followers on Instagram.
"Forbes" lists her as one of the most influential women in Brazil.
In the last presidential election campaign, Anitta did not want to be critical of the right-wing extremist candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
Many Brazilians resented her.
But Anitta apologized that she simply had too little knowledge of politics.
In fact, Anitta was only able to get an education gradually when she was earning her own money.
She learned fluent English and Spanish, among other things.
Later she also took political classes.
In the meantime, she attacks Bolsonaro sharply.
: Anitta, you left Brazil and now live in Miami, the place many Brazilians long for.
How are you when you see the news from there?
: I haven't left my country.
I've been here for about two months to work on my international career.
But the flight routes are cut.
So I can't fly back and forth.
My mother and friends tell me about Brazil.
It makes me sad
Unfortunately, our president did not manage the pandemic well.
I know how great and how big Brazil is and the politics are so bad.
It's extremely frustrating.
: In Brazil, more than 400,000 people have now died as a result of corona infection.
Many in the country are now accusing President Jair Bolsonaro of “genocide”.
Would you go that far?
Because if someone has the opportunity to prevent or stop or contain something, but then makes the decision not to do all of that, then I agree with this word.
Bolsonaro denied the virus, the pandemic, then refused to buy vaccines.
He didn't do his best.
If someone says: "I don't give a shit", yes, then they are responsible for this result.
Then it's his fault.
Cemetery in the Amazon city of Manaus, which was hard hit by the corona pandemic
Photo: MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP
: Have you ever met him?
: No, luckily not.
He attacked me on Twitter, and so did his fans.
They call me a whore and tell me to shut up.
: There are presidential elections in Brazil next year. Will you get involved in the election campaign?
I want my audience to be informed and understand who is eligible and who is not.
People in Brazil need to understand that the choice is important.
Because if you choose the wrong person, it can have dire effects on your life in the very next moment.
: How do you want to achieve that?
: I do this on social media.
I took tuition in politics during the pandemic and streamed it live on Instagram once a week so my fans could learn too.
I'll do that again as soon as the election campaign starts.
It's about simple questions like: What does a president do?
What does a mayor do?
You have to do it very simply so that everyone can come along.
If people aren't interested in politics, then politicians can just lie to them and trick them.
: You grew up in a favela in Rio.
Brazilian society is extremely class-oriented and impervious.
How did you get out of there?
If you grow up in Brazil in this reality in which I grew up, then you have no access to education, to art.
It is difficult in itself to develop something like ambition at all.
You think it's impossible, not feasible for people like us.
You are born into it and then you think in circles.
First you have to learn to believe that you can be successful at all.
It's a huge mental task.
Vidigal favela in Rio de Janeiro
Photo: Luiz Souza / NurPhoto / Getty Images
How did you develop this ambition?
I don't know.
None of my family or friends have that. My mother was a seamstress.
My father sold car batteries.
I think I just wanted to change my family's life so badly.
And I had this dream of becoming a singer.
I hate to lose
Everyone said I couldn't make it, that piqued me.
The Brazilian middle class is still more likely to turn up their noses when they hear your name.
Alone how they look at me.
I come from a poor place with no opportunities, from a sad reality.
These people, who live in different realities, who have the opportunity to have access to education, to money, who don't understand how those are doing, who don't have all of this, how difficult it is to get anything done at all.
I want to address everyone, the poor, the middle class and the rich.
But I run into a lot of prejudices.
Also because I'm a woman, because I use my sexuality and because I like it.
Anitta at a performance in Las Vegas (2019): "It makes me sad when other women judge my lifestyle"
Photo: Bryan Steffy / Telemundo / NBC Universal / Getty Images
You describe yourself as a feminist.
What does this term mean to you?
It's about the freedom that everyone can be who they want without worrying about social expectations.
Women are not supposed to think that they have to do anything.
They just have to do what is important to them.
There's not just one feminism, not just one right way to be feminist.
Why is a bare bottom in a thong feminist?
There are women who don't like showing their bodies.
Some want to get married or be mothers and have children.
Others want to do a great job in an office, career.
But there are also women who don't want any of this, they just want to be free and live differently.
Everyone should do what they want with their body.
If I feel good about my body and showing it off and being sensual, then I do that. I am very free.
And I want that I can like it, that I can be like that, that I can enjoy it.
I would never judge women who don't like it.
It makes me sad when other women judge my lifestyle.
"I come from a poor place with no opportunities, from a sad reality."
You have undergone numerous cosmetic operations; you say they were suggested to you.
Are You Really That Free?
: Yes, at the beginning of my career I was told that it was necessary that I should do it.
I never thought about it.
But then I thought the idea was great, I liked it.
I hated my nose all my life.
Many people today tell me to get a treatment for my cellulite.
It's a huge effort and I don't feel like doing it.
So I just assume I have it.
If someone doesn't like it, it's not my problem, it's his.
Anitta fans at a performance by the singer in Rio de Janeiro (2020)
Photo: Wagner Meier / Getty Images
: In your videos you show all sorts of female bodies in bikini, fat, thin, well-trained, so they show diversity.
Why didn't you just accept yourself as you are instead of conforming to the current ideal of beauty?
: I think it's important to represent all possible types of women.
I want to boost your self-confidence.
The operations were really about myself. I enjoy them.
But I want to be honest with it and say what I did.
Because people these days, especially teenagers, look at photos on social media and then get depressed or feel bad about their bodies.
: Women report that during the pandemic and lockdown you noticed how they suddenly wear a lot less make-up and are now wondering whether they really did it for themselves in the past.
Do you feel the same way?
I'm not wearing any make-up any more, just some lipstick and powder.
And it feels so good.
During the pandemic we made a lot of zoom calls, and at first I made up for it, but at some point I let it go and just thought, oh well, I'm just showing myself now.
I feel free with it.
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