Women may sunbathe topless on the beaches of Brazil. They may flaunt their tanned rumps with bikini bottoms the size of a Post-it note. But in Rio de Janeiro, women may not bare their nipples for a theater show imported from France.
Last week, a Brazilian judge took offense at advertisements for the local debut of a dance troupe from the Crazy Horse in Paris. Judge Siro Darlan, of the Rio Children's and Young Adults' Court, put his foot down when it came to a giant billboard sign promoting the show at the Canecao club. Darlan insisted that red stars be placed over the bare breasts of the female dancers on the sign. He also issued a ban on ticket sales to anyone under age 18.
Promoters complied with the judge's request and covered the sign's bare breasts with red stars, but that apparently wasn't good enough. When Darlan saw the improved version, he ordered that the stars be enlarged, because they covered only the nipples.
Jerson Alvim, artistic director at the Canecao, was outraged at the censorship, and complained to newspapers: "This ban is absurd, with all the women who go topless on Rio's beaches!"
Much like female breasts, nipples and their accompanying areolae come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. It could conceivably be true that French nipples are more offensive to Brazilians than Brazilian nipples are, but the judge did not elaborate on any cultural differences in nipples.