The common read for the class this week was Chapter 2 of Futbolera, and my group was assigned to read Charmion’s Trapeze Act. A quote that ties these two readings together is, “In the early twentieth century, the line between respectable and disreputable leisure activities wasn’t so sharply drawn as one might think.”

The blurring of these two lines can be seen through the circus. The circus was one of the only places where women were able to express themselves and do the things that they loved. For example, the circus was one of the few places where women regularly played football in Brazil. Women’s soccer found its home within the circus. Charmion was a trapeze artist who was known for her undressing act. Her act came at a time when women’s fashion choices were changing, and clothes were becoming looser and more comfortable. Charmion advocated female agency by encouraging women to be more physically active and also advised women not to wear corsets or long skirts to enable free movement of the body.

While the circus provided a place for women to perform, they still faced backlash and held to high standards. When Charmion first began her disrobing act, she received a lot of criticism. Many people did not believe it was appropriate for her to be doing this. Women were seen as mothers and wives, and this act went against people’s image of women. On the other hand, the rise of photography and cinema encouraged the continued objectification of the female body as a sexual commodity. In Brazil there was a sports magazine known as Sports Ilustrado. This magazine focused less on women’s role in sports and more on their role as mothers and being women. The magazine also held beauty contests for fans. This takes away from the importance of what the athletes are doing and paints the picture for women that their beauty is more important than their playing sports. Women, a lot of the time, did not get recognition as athletes or get appreciated for their achievements in sports; rather, the focus was on their role in society or on their bodies.