Last week the Girl from Ipanema, immortalized by Tom and Vinícius, turned 80. If she were socially acceptable, I would even say that she doesn’t look her age. Beautiful and radiant, Helô Pinheiro revealed on the occasion that she regrets not having had a more lively life in her youth. “I would have liked to have enjoyed life more, to have tried other men before getting married, to have been a bit like Leila Diniz”, he declared.
I had a few questions in my head. Could it be that Leila Diniz’s sexual freedom had a greater meaning than “trying on” several men? Does it exist to be “a little” Leila Diniz? Is it possible to be Leila Diniz, without being born Leila Diniz?
Unforgettable and unique, Leila Diniz became a polysemic adjective: she was many women, being very woman. She had the “indecency” to have an attitude. She cursed, she showed off a pregnant belly when all the other women hid it behind smocks and bows, she expressed herself with her powerful voice and her body, a naturally beautiful body. She said that she didn’t die of love, she preferred to live with them. She wasn’t a hashtag feminist, she didn’t raise flags, she didn’t demonize men, she didn’t organize movements, she didn’t burn bras: she was the revolution itself.
Helô Pinheiro verbalized a desire that lives in the depths of all of us, covered by our grimaces and fears: to be more Leila Diniz – or, even better, to have been Leila Diniz, in the past tense. It’s easy to be Leila Diniz after she has already inaugurated a new type of existence, having opened the doors of female emancipation, broken barriers, faced the era of repression, censorship, surveillance, torture, illegal arrests. It’s easy to be just “a little” Leila Diniz, without the part of taking risks, of scandalizing, of having to face the hatred of conservatism, of giving up safe ground, of showing up to fight, of being defamed. So it’s easy to be Leila Diniz, but that’s not being Leila Diniz.
Fernanda Young was Leila Diniz, with the courage she had to be what she was, to say things that we cannot verbalize, not to be afraid to contradict herself. Intuitive, she could see and distinguish what was true and what was convention. She questioned conformism with libertarian attitudes, it was light, which bothered those who wanted to continue to be myopic.
Rita Lee was such a Leila Diniz that she didn’t even need to declare herself a feminist. In the song “Todas as Mulheres do Mundo”, a hymn to women, it is not by chance that the two girls from Ipanema —the well-behaved and the subversive— are mentioned one after the other. “Every woman wants to be loved, every woman wants to be happy, every woman pretends to be a poor thing, every woman is like Leila Diniz; Girls from Ipanema, Minas from Minas, blondes, brunettes, Messalines, sinister saints, evil ministers, Imeldas, Evitas , Raped Benedictines”.
Women are plural, but they choose to be what they can be, what they have the courage to be.
Leila Diniz had a brief stay here, she lived only 27 years, she left us 51 years ago, but she is still present, alive, because we still need her.
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