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National stereotypes

Wanted: cheery workers (Portuguese need not apply)

Cascais businessman snubs local women as “they are depressed and dissatisfied with life”

“We are looking for outgoing and fun-loving people. We prefer Brazilians or nationalities with a similar temperament; Portuguese need not apply.” This is an advertisement from Cloud Choice Health, a company based in Cascais, Portugal, that purportedly specializes in technology services. A few clicks of the mouse, however, reveal a push to spice up content by dressing female video presenters in lingerie.

The Baltazar Dias theater in Funchal (Portugal).
The Baltazar Dias theater in Funchal (Portugal).

As requirements for the position, the ad lists “verbal eloquence, with or without fluent Portuguese or Spanish,” as well as a happy disposition. More concretely, it declares: “Preference will be given to Brazilians or nationalities with a similarly happy temperament.”

We do not want applications from people lacking self-confidence, or who are depressed or indecisive

The wording of the ad attracted its share of criticism, so the company toned it down and now, instead of saying that no one from Portugal should apply, the job is open “to all nationalities known for their happy disposition.”

Speaking to to the Portuguese daily Público, company spokesperson Heinrich Pereira justified the job ad by explaining that “Portuguese women are generally depressed and dissatisfied with life.” In case readers didn’t quite get the drift, the firm posted another ad seeking people for their YouTube channel: “We’re not looking for people who lack self-confidence or who are depressed and indecisive, or who get a college degree in order to go and sell phones.”

The company offers successful candidates a flexible timetable, a wide range of coffee, unlimited quantities of Brazilian food and the energy drink Red Bull. In return, they expect knowledge of TV shows and video games.

Singers like Portugal’s Eurovision winner Salvador Sobral help perpetuate the myth that the Portuguese are incurably melancholy.
Singers like Portugal’s Eurovision winner Salvador Sobral help perpetuate the myth that the Portuguese are incurably melancholy.

The sad woman has long been a Portuguese stereotype that can be partly attributed to the country’s fado music, which is filled with nostalgia. Meanwhile, the idea that Brazilians are all brimming with fun and laughter might be samba-inspired. Needless to say, not all the Portuguese are like Amalia Rodrigues and not all Brazilians are like Gisèle Bündchen, but clearly the clichés are hard to shake.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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