Sexy Seven-Year-Old: Preteen Girl Named A Rio Carnival Queen

It’s hard to see a leading role for children in Carnival, Rio de Janeiro’s annual mega-festival, for which the Brazilian government will hand out 55 million free condoms, in an attempt to promote AIDS awareness and safer sex.  But the naming of 7-year-old Julia Lira as the drum corps for the Viradouro samba group has stirred an intense controversy over whether children should be involved in the hyper-sexualized roles usually reserved for female Carnival participants.

The AP reports that “a judge is considering blocking Julia’s participation. A state agency that defends children’s rights says she’s too young to take on a traditionally sexy role.”  There seem to be some strange parental influences: Julia’s father, who just happens to be the president of the Viradouro group, “says Julia is a natural who can easily samba through the 80-minute parade route in Rio’s sweltering summer heat.”

The hyper-sexualization of children has been an issue in Brazil in the past, and some argue that permitting Julia to be drum corps queen will simply exacerbate the problem.  It “would increase the treatment of children as sexual objects in Brazilian society,” said Carlos Nicodemos, director of the Rio de Janeiro state Council for the Defense of Children and Adolescents.   “We can’t put a 7-year-old girl in a role that traditionally for Carnival has a very sexual focus.”

It seems unclear as to how revealing Julia’s costume will be, and whether she’s being coerced into the role.  When asked why she wanted to be drum corps queen, she said, “I’m happy because I like to dance.”  But there’s also a question of whether she can physically handle the 80-minute-long parade in sweltering Brazil heat. 

The decision will be made by a family court in Rio.  But this much seems clear to me: Julia’s health is at stake, and for that reason alone she should not be the group’s drum corps queen.  It also seems apparent, though, that a young girl should not be in the position of “sexy muse” – which is what Carnival queens essentially are.  Perhaps that’s not a role that grown women should be in, either.  And certainly, the fact that Julia’s father is the head of the dance troupe should set off warning bells in anyone’s head, simply in terms of power dynamics.  I’m glad that Julia loves to dance, and that she’s excelling in this field, but no children should be pushed into physically taxing, hyper-sexualized roles without their full consent – nor, indeed, should adults.

Photo from's Flickr photostream.

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Joemar Karvelis
Joemar Karvelis4 days ago


Gabrielle D.
Gabrielle D.9 days ago

Okay, just came back from a fact check. Julia Lira is a real person and she was only seven when this article came out. She did indeed lead the Carnival samba parade--for a while. She got stage fright and started crying ten minutes in. Her father comes across as a pushy stage parent. But, just as I suspected, that's not her in the picture. The Guardian had an article on her, and she doesn't look anything like the girl in the photo, who is noticeably lighter-skinned and older. I still think her father is a horse's, um, posterior for commodifying his kid like this, but I've also lost some respect for Care2 due to the misleading photo and outdated headline.

Gabrielle DiFonzo
Gabrielle D.10 days ago

Wait, what? This story is five years old? I feel like a sucker right now.

Gabrielle DiFonzo
Gabrielle D.10 days ago

I wonder about this. Hypersexualization is obviously wrong, but I don't know whether this story is real. The girl in the picture, judging by her height and bone structure, does not look like a seven-year-old--a preteen, maybe, which is still not okay, but not a seven-year-old. And the Yahoo link isn't working. Maybe Snopes has more information on this...

Dave Boldock
Dave Boldock11 days ago

Now there's being precocious, and there's having an idiotic Father with a vested interest in projecting his Daughter as a slag. He needs looking at!

Lyn V.
Lyn v.13 days ago

I just cant believe humans can be SOOOOOOOOOOOO ridiculous

Helen Berry
Past Member 13 days ago

7 is too young , loving to dance is one thing, but this sort of dancing is not appropriate for a young girl, she can progress to this in her teens if she wants,

Nils Anders Lunde

Weird family and familys i say...............

Erika Acosta
Erika Acosta20 days ago


Maureen King
Maureen King22 days ago

To Alessandra c.To answer your question:Are they crazy!!!.ABSOLUTELY.
Is nothing scared!!Judging by her fathers decision ,-obviously not.Here is someone charged with the care and responsibility of this little girl,and he would allow it.Glad he's not my father.Where's the mother?
I think there's a big difference between a little girl that loves to dance and allowing a little girl to be exploited.
As a footnote: This little girl is too young to consent to anything.