A friend of mine went to Rio de Janeiro and was very surprised to see her friend’s mother, who is in her 70’s, dressed in a tiny bikini. If that happened on any American beach, there would be staring and heads shaking in disapproval. If you happen to be on an East Coast beach in America, women in their early 30’s who have had a baby or two wear swimsuits not too different from the ones worn by women in the turn of the century-last century, that is. They even have little skirts on them.
In the streets of Brazil you see older women-even the ones who are chubby-wearing the same clothes the younger girls wear: tight tops, tight pants, sky high heels, bright colors, fancy jewelry, shorter dresses, cleavage. And nobody cares. Nobody criticizes.
The issue here is that in Brazil there is a lot more freedom to express oneself and age is not a deterrant. When my children were in middle and high school, I felt the other mothers disapproved that I dressed young (low cut bootleg jeans, tight tops, shorter hems, etc). I had my children in my 20’s, while many of these women waited until their 30’s to be a mother. Therefore, when my kids were in High School and even College, I was a relatively young mother.
Why is that in America once you have children-or once you hit a certain age, like 40 or 50, you have to cover up? What’s wrong with looking sexy until you can-and whether you are a mother or not? It’s very common to see couples in America where the man looks very decent and the wife looks old-no make up, no jewelry, overweight, drab clothes, no femininity. I guess these men chose to marry accomplished and intelligent women, and while that is admirable, I question: why can’t you be both feminine and accomplished? Why is that when you try to look feminine in America people think you are shallow? Is it a result of the 60’s women’s lib or is it the Anglo-Saxon puritanism that colonized America still in the works?
Why is that once a woman hits 40 or 50 she needs to dress a certain way and give up certain things? What if she has a good body and fashionable clothing looks nice on her? Why can’t people just have the freedom to dress any way they want and decide how they want to look without others judging them? As in my posts about American men not being able to wear small swimwear in American beaches and new mothers getting disgusted looks while breastfeeding in public, I am here advocating that older women and older men can wear whatever they want, without ageism interfering.
Like many women, I am a perfume lover. I put on perfume on a daily basis, like deodorant. I also love a man that smells nice. Some American men don’t do the perfume thing, they consider it “gay”, but a man who wears cologne gets my attention 🙂
In recent years, I have noticed that most imported perfumes I buy are very weak. They simply don’t last more than an hour or less. They seem to evaporate very quickly. And I am not talking about “eau de toilette”, which is less concentrated, but “eau de parfum” as well. What happened to someone walking by you and leaving a trace of wonderful perfume?
Obviously too much perfume is offensive, especially the cheap kind, but it is nice to get near someone and smell something pleasant.
A friend of mine who works in the fashion industry said the same name brand perfume one buys in Europe and in the USA have different strengths. She thinks they include more alcohol in the perfumes that come to the American market. That would explain why they don’t seem to last, at least to me. It would be interesting to hear the opinion of perfume lovers and conoisseurs.
Bermuda, by Michael Kors, one of my favorites
I want to thank Jeniffer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Jessica Biel for making round and not-so-small butts considered attractive in America. I am Latin, therefore I am curvy. I have hips, thighs and a butt. I grew up in the 70’s when hip-less/but-less models were all the rage. All the “Charlie’s Angels” actresses were skinny with no trace of a butt. Panty lines were considered a sin in those days. The butt had to be as non-existent and as discreet as possible. Women who had more generous backsides learned it was better just to hide them with a long jacket or a tunic.
The African American community has always embraced their big “derrieres”. White America however, was still firmly obsessed with big breasts. Things started to change in the 90’s, not only with hip hop culture but also with the large Hispanic population that started coming to this country. Some new celebrities emerged, and a new body shape started becoming more popular: slim women with round and toned butts. The market even has padded underwear to sell those less gifted in that area!
The good thing about that is that the strict standards of beauty have expanded, and women of different shapes can feel attractive. However, the skeleton look that is in vogue in Hollywood is unhealthy and unattractive.
As with many things in life, a good balance is better than extremes. Since many studies show that men prefer women with a few healthy curves, “some meat on their bones”, I think that unwittingly, JLo, Kim, Beyonce and Jessica have made a lot of women feel better!
“You need to look good to get a man”. Feminists go nuts when they hear that. Mind you, I am also a feminist in the sense that I believe both sexes are equal and one should not try to have control over the other. But some feminists used to say a man needs to love you for what’s “inside you”. That notion was popular in the 60’s and 70’s, but then after a whole generation of women stayed single, the 80’s came in full force and brought back pencil skirts and red lipstick. That’s all fine and dandy, but your “great personality” and brains by themselves will not always land you a relationship.
As in most things in life, there has to be a balance. A balance of looks and personality and brains. An overweight woman is not only putting her health at risk, she will also lower her chances of finding a relationship. She will not be able to be picky. Why?
Because we cannot ignore biology and the fact that men are visual. Their first impulse when they look at an available woman is if she pleases their senses. After that first barrier is broken, she needs to show him she is also intelligent, kind and all the other good stuff, or he will simply see her a as possible one night stand.
Looking good has nothing to do with being obsessed with your looks. It has nothing to do with spending loads of money in hair salons, tanning salons, boutiques and skin treatments. It requires some basic grooming: combing your hair, seeing what style and color suits you the best, taking care of your skin and your teeth, wearing some make up to enhance your good features and keeping your nails and toes clean or polished.
When it comes to weight, obesity is never good. Obesity is synonimous to ignorance. Someone who is not exercising or is eating too much. Very rarely is obesity incurable.
When it comes to clothes, a woman does not need to look like a million bucks all the time. She also should not dress slutty. She should strive to look feminine though. Clothes that are not too tight nor too loose, colors that enhance your complexion, styles that enhance your best features such as your bosom or your legs (don’t show too muc skin!) and some jewelry to make you look like a….woman.
In the past, if a woman was born ugly, she was condemned to be ugly for the rest of her life or she would join a convent. Nowadays, the most ugly duckling can look ravishing. Plastic surgery to correct enormous noses, breast implants to add volume to completely flat women, make up tricks and foundations and false eyelashes, hair coloring and hair extensions, color contacts, fake nails..and the list goes on. But none of this works if a woman is grossly overweight.
Too skinny is also not good. Men always say they like women with some curves. Why do you think Joy Behar looks good for 66? Because she is not too skinny. Her just right plumpiness makes her face look younger. Some Hollywood celebrities starve to look like waifs, but oftentimes they lose their beauty in that process.
I once knew a woman lawyer who was approaching 40 and had never been married or had children. She was starting to panic. She was pretty and was not overweight. I remember I wish I could have told her why she wasn’t lucky in love, but I did not have the courage. All she needed to do was change her style. She wore long skirts with shapeless lawyer suits. She wore her hair in a short conservative hairstyle and absolutely no make up.
I wanted to take her shopping and give her a makeover…but…she was my boss. I haven’t see her for many years, but the last I heard was that she had given up on finding a man and had had IVF from a donor, becoming a single mother….I wish I had given her a bit of my “Brazilian” fashion sense 🙂
For every pot there is a lid. This is one of my favorite sayings in Portuguese. There is someone for everyone, but to enhance your chances of finding love, you have to love yourself first.
So let me let out a secret which Brazilian women know well: why do Brazilian women have such perfect perky and round butts? One of the reasons is the right mixture of African, Indian and European bloods. That gave women the roundness and plumpness factor. Not too many flat pancakes walking around 🙂
The second reason is that Brazilian women work out, walk a lot and eat healthier than their American counterparts. Therefore, even if they have bigger hips and more meat in that region of their bodies, it is never too big. It is often toned and hard.
Brazilian culture as I have pointed out in this blog is a lot more appearance oriented. The mostly warm weather makes women show their bodies more. The butt is the favorite part of every Brazilian man. The butt is glorified in Brazil. It is all about the butt (just like in America it is all about large breasts). So attention is given to this important part of the body!
Now here is the third reason why almost every butt in the street seems nice: the Brazilian underwear! Brazilian women in general wear panties that “lift” the buttocks. They never wear granny pants which I so often see in America (all those horrible panty lines). And they are not big fans of g-string underwear (have you ever worn anything more uncomfortable, I hate them!).
Instead, the V-cut panty is very popular there. It leaves panty lines if worn with very tight pants, but it also lifts saggy buttocks and makes them perkier. So there, I let the cat out of the bag!
The same applies to bikinis. Contrary to what many Americans think, Brazilian women do not go topless at the beach or swimming pools. It is considered nudity and offensive. If a woman tries to take her top off in a Brazilian beach, people may call the cops, especially if there are children and families around. But the bikinis are very small. Somehow, none of that seems offensive.
You do not see women with big bikini bottoms. We call the American cut which covers both cheeks “diapers”. And you do not see too many g-strings in Brazilian beaches anymore, they had some popularity in the early 90’s but I guess Brazilians thought they showed too much and were somewhat vulgar, unclassy. So again, the V-cut wins for bikinis as well, lifting the butt cheeks and creating the so called Brazilian butt.
Maybe this post will make American lingerie makers pay more attention to the V cut.
Brazil is known for being a country obsessed with looks. Women of all ages try to look trendy and hot all the time, day and night. They dress sexy to buy groceries, they dress sexy to church, they dress sexy at work. No one cares, since it is part of the scenery. When a woman dressed with skimpy clothes walks by, few people notice, since there are so many of them. The population is also very youmg, so there are pretty women everywhere.
The obsession wtih looks has propelled the beauty industry to have the latest and the greatest in plastic surgery, hair salons, dermatology treatments and everything you can imagine that has to do with making people look younger and better.
The undercurrent of this obsession is based on the cruel class system that has ruled Brazil since colonial times, aggravated by gender bias, machismo and fewer opportunties for women. Brazilian women grew up valueing looks as the only weapon against poverty. If they look pretty, they will snag a husband who will provide for them. Older women are also obsessed with looking pretty and young to preserve their men, faced with a very strong competition from younger women. Fortunately, this is becoming less prevalent, with the younger generations in the job market and becoming more and more independant.
Brazil’s lack of interest in community work and the still cruel class difference also puts an emphasis in one’s appearance as the means to get ahead in life.
On the other hand, even though many Brazilian women suffer on 4 inch heels at airports and other places where comfort should come first, and even though many cross the line from dressing trendy to looking vulgar, from sexy to slutty, Brazilian women usually look nice. They look feminine, they dress like women.
The bright side of the looks obsession is that there are no beauty parlors like the Brazilian ones. Even the most modest beauty salon will have a good and talented hairdresser and nail technician. Labor is cheap and plentiful in Brazil. You walk inside a store and there are 5 people behind the counter to serve you.
The Brazilian manicure is wonderful: it lasts many days and your nails look perfect. If you accidentally ruin the polish after the manicure, the technician will fit it for you for free. There is less greed in the Brazilian society. Money does not govern everything.
Haircuts and blow outs look great. They know what they are doing. In the US, it seems that anyone can work in a beauty salon, as long as they have a license. But the license and the training does not guarantee talent, since working with hair is almost an artistic ability.
Nail salons in the Washington DC area are dominated by the Vietnamese, and the women working in these salons are always in a hurry to get the next customer and get big fat tips. They are many times rude, but the immigrants have lowered the price of these services to be accessible to the middle class. I remember in the 70’s only few women in America could enjoy a manicure, since labor was not cheap.
Brazilian women will understand what I am trying to say in this post. We never visit Brazil without a visit to a beauty shop, where we try to cram in all the manicures and haircuts and highlights we can 🙂
I am tall. I do not wish to be taller than the world when I wear heels. I also wish to walk without feeling I am walking on sticks or that I will lose my balance any time. However, I am not a flat shoes kind of woman (unless I am at the gym, walking at the mall, at work). When I go out, I like the flair some heels give to a woman. That said, I cannot find any pretty shoes with 2 inch heels anymore. Even 2 1/2. I did find them in Brazil, but store owners here in the MD/VA/DC area either think the population is made of midgets or that all women are traditional soccer moms wearing khaki bermudas.
Whenever I wear my around 2 inch Brazilian shoes here, people stop to compliment me. And anytime I try to wear 3 to 4 inch heels, I know they will be on the back of my closet for good.
They look great at first sight, but they kill your feet. Try walking with them on uneven sidewalks. Try standing on them an entire night (or dancing).try walking on marble floors. I am always afraid I am going to twist my ankle and wear a cast for a whole month.
After a certain age, our feet bones shift. Shoes become more unconfortable. Confort and good quality materials like leather become more important.
Shoes used to come from Brazil or Italy. Now they come from China. They are cheaply made. The Italian shoes still come, at a higher price. Shoe importers, please remember women like me who want to look good, wear the latest fashions but do not want to walk on sticks! Thanks!
One sign of homophobia in America is in men’s clothing options. While certainly America is not the most homophobic country (think Middle East and countries where homosexuality is considered a crime!), there are little red flags here and there.
I never took to the grunge look that started around 1990. I also dislike the rap scene style of baggy pants and shirts 3 times the guy’s size. How would men react if women started dressing in big baggy pants and t-shirts which would hide their shape?
The low crotch baggy pants make young guys look bad. Sloppy, out of shape. Sorry guys, women also want to see if you have a nice butt :). Now, I am not advocating the return of the skintight pants of the 70’s (ouch!) but fitted pants make a man look better dressed and elegant. European men know exactly what to wear (Brazilians too!). Just go to any European capital and you will know what I am talking about. Some young Hollywood singers and actors (think Zac Efron) have started to bring the fitted look back.
As for speedos….I am a huge speedo lover. The way Americans blast speedos, especially the new generation who did not live the 70’s and the 80’s, is amusing. They equate speedos and fitted pants (again, not tight pants!) to being gay. Hello, then the entire male population of Brazil and Europe would be gay! And what’s wrong with being gay anyway?
Speedos make for better comfort, better tanning and better swimming. I cringe when I see these poor fellas at the beach in America with those large floppy shorts below their knees….it’s like swimming with your clothes on! If you want to wear shorts, at least wear some shorter shorts to swim and lie on the beach! I also feel sorry for toddlers dressed with long shorts at the beach or the swimming pool, because their mothers bought into the anti-speedo wave.
One of the arguments I hear about Speedos is that people don’t want to see old and fat men wearing them. But so what that if older men have bellies and speedos will show them off? We will see the bellies anyway with the big shorts! Additionally, it’s practically impossible to look wonderful wearing any swimsuit over the ages of 40 or 50, whether you are a man or a woman. Very few people manage that, except the dietaholics and the gymaholics.
So I am for a speedo comeback. I especially like the ones that are square looking, more like briefs. See Daniel Craig’s pic above. And stay away from anything resembling a g-string, they do not flatter men or women alike.
When I was in Rio last December, it was nice seeing men comfortably wearing their speedos everywhere. In no way I feel offended by the shape of men’s genitals; I know they have balls, so what? We are not offended by the zillions of (enhanced) breasts we see popping out of their tiny triangles in swimming pools and beaches either….
Are men who are too vehemently against speedos scared of being seen as gay, or do they fear that they will be attracted to other men in speedos? Or are they just insecure about their bodies?
I did like the fact the SATC movie showed a man’s penis briefly. It’s time for homophobia to leave movies and TV as well. What’s so horrible about showing a man’s penis in a movie with a sex scene? We see women’s nude frontals and naked breasts all the time. Are men in America that scared that they will feel attracted to other men?
May the new generation of American men start the Speedo Revolution! 🙂
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