L’equipee Girls, March 16: In The Footsteps Of Brazil’s Plantation Women

Beauty is never off the agenda, even for the tough women working the fields of Noiva de Cordeiro...

A group of Parisian women, called ‘l’équipée’ girls, who all have a love of vintage motorbikes, are off on an adventure to find out what beauty means around the world. On this leg of their journey, they’ll be spending three weeks riding through Brazil. On their way they’ll meet women from other cultures to discover what beauty really means.

A Community Of Women

‘They have hands like princesses, even though they work the land…’ exclaims Louise D. ‘Compared to them, I feel that mine look like a heavy lifter’s hands…’

The team is at Noiva de Cordeiro, a rural community of about 400 people founded in the late 19th century, when a young woman – Maria Senhorinha de Lima – left the man she had been forced to marry to be with the one she loved.

Here, when then men leave to work in the surrounding cities, the women step in, growing the fruit and vegetables that will feed the community. Their days are spent in the fields, their hands in the dirt. 

The girls wake up early to go and meet the women who have already been working in the plantations since the early hours. It’s hard work under the sun, and the women keep their spirits up by singing together. For the girls from ‘L’équipée’, this contact with the earth and its simple relationship to food are a revelation. Suddenly, everything makes sense.

Under their wide straw hats, protected by their headscarves and the maximum strength sunscreen they religiously reapply, the women from the community are busy planting the crops. They are grateful for the girls’ help, but worry when they see them working with their shoulders and hands bare, wearing no protection at all.

Hands Like Princesses

When Louise D, Louise B, Cindy, Pauline and Cecile come back from working the fields with their gloveless hands, the community women immediately noticed their blackened nails and waste no time offering them a manicure.

Beauty is taken very seriously in Noiva de Cordeiro. But whereas Brazilian women generally apply makeup before going to work, in Noiva de Cordeiro they prettify themselves when they come back from the fields. And of course, impeccable nails are an absolute must!

They can spend hours doing each other’s nails. ‘It’s the first time someone else has done my nails for me in all my life!’ laughs Cécile. In fact, for all five Parisians who usually do their nails themselves, sharing this collective manicure session is a first.

‘It’s all very sweet, joyful and benevolent,’ notes Louise B. It’s also an opportunity to share beauty tips. Here, women don’t use nail files: they prefer steel wool ,to give their nails a nice sheen and prevent yellowing. 

Nearby, a man looks benevolently on these communal proceedings. ‘I find this attention very touching,’ says Cécile. ‘We’re more accustomed to being mocked for our feminine ‘futility’…’

Tune in tomorrow when…

The girls from L’Equipée decide to stay one more day in Noiva de Cordeiro sharing more moments of emotion with the women of the community…

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