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From 'Miss Bum Bum' contest to humiliating The Greatest Shows on Earth, how TV is degrading women in Brazil

By FnF Desk | PUBLISHED: 18, Jun 2013, 18:30 pm IST | UPDATED: 18, Jun 2013, 19:45 pm IST

From 'Miss Bum Bum' contest to humiliating The Greatest Shows on Earth, how TV is degrading women in Brazil As the hosts of the next World Cup and Olympic games, Brazil will soon be welcoming people from around the globe to its shores.But after visiting the country for a new Channel 4 series that starts this evening, Daisy Donovan has concluded it is not a place for the 'faint-hearted'. Or indeed for those who believe women should not be treated as disposable sex objects.

Ms Donovan was shocked by the popular television shows beloved by the nation that seemingly objectify and degrade women.

One of these programmes is called 'Miss Bum Bum' - a reality TV show to find the nation's best bottom.

Ms Donovan describes the contest as 'a spectacular feast of the flesh'. Girls from every walk of life are whittled down by a public vote to 15 finalists by undertaking a range of tasks  - all while wearing thongs that show off their derrieres.

The final is a catwalk show where the women gyrate and parade in their skimpy bikinis while the cameramen take gratuitous rear and up-skirt shots.

Ms Donovan said she felt awkward watching the final, adding: 'It's a bit disconcerting being a woman here and not dressed in dental floss.'

She met one of the finalists, Laura Keller, 23, who has a degree in sports science but admitted she is happy to hide her intellect on the show in favour of flaunting her body.

She said: 'In Brazil, to work in TV and media we need to get in through the backdoor which means that first of all we need to show our beauty. Once you have you foot in the door then you will be able to show your intellectual skills.'

One male Brazilian journalist explained to Ms Donovan why Miss Bum Bum was such a popular TV show with both men and women of the country: 'Brazilian woman like to be, not exactly objectified, but they like to be admired. Brazilian women have the highest self esteem in the world.'

Ms Donovan found another TV show that illustrates the country's 'questionable fixation with women' in Pânico, is a Brazilian institution which has been on the air for the past eight years.

Ms Donovan said: 'Every week the show features the Panicats, a troop of bikini clad women who compete in spectacularly pointless games.'

She noted that the games - including one where women in skimpy outfits boxed on roller skates and another where women pretending to be mice have to eat cheese despite being held back by elastic around their faces - can be as painful as they are humiliating.

She met one of the retired 'Panicats', Ariane Steinkopf, 23, who confided that she had found the experience humiliating but she did it for the fame.

She said: 'Being honest with you it's humiliating but at the same time there is the status that comes with it so you end up forgetting about the humiliation because you are on TV and it has good ratings.'

Ariane said during her six months on the show she did things such as mud wrestling another woman in bikini and plunging down a water slide naked to land in a tiny paddling pool.

Ms Donovan observed of the show: 'It turns out that Panico can do whatever they want to young women in the name of entertainment.'

Ariane said she did have a limit to what she was prepared to do - but that ultimately led to her dismissal.

She said: 'As we are portrayed as only having a beautiful body we are kind of a disposable thing - so if you don't agree with something you will get eliminated and someone else will replace you.

'There are so many things I refused to do and somethings I'd never do, this is one of the reasons they decide to fire me from the programme.'

Ms Donovan investigated TV shows in Brazil as part of her new four-part series, The Greatest Shows on Earth, that uncovers how 'television is the window into the soul of a nation' by exploring what popular TV reveals about a county and its culture.

In future episodes she will discover how Egyptians love to see terrified celebrities kidnapped at gunpoint in a popular prank show while in India dance shows rule the small screen.

# The Greatest Shows On Earth begins Monday 17 June at 10pm on Channel 4. * Source: The Daily Mail, By Lucy Waterlow