If you are squeamish, or if you are a friend of mine that plans to ever share a meal with me in the future (or if you are my mother), stop reading now. I suggest you flip over to the next post. Or perhaps see what’s happening on Facebook. For the following is a hard-core account of preparing for the beach in the Brazil, and some of it, ironically, is not pretty.
The beaches in Brazil are serious business. In Rio, everything happens at the beach. People meet at the beach. They exercise at the beach. They eat, drink, party, read and sleep at the beach. I would be surprised if business meetings didn’t occur at the beach. The beach is an extension of the living room. This is not atypical of any beach-based community. But somehow, I get the sense that Brazilians take their appearance on the beach much more seriously.
For our holidays, including my birthday, we were spending most of the time in Angra dos Reis on the beach of a private community. (Though our last few days of vacation would be spent in Rio.) So the pressure for me was less intense. Yet, I would still be subjected to some of the beach preparation rituals.
The first time I ever got a Brazilian bikini wax was for my wedding, which was taking place in resort village of Buzios, Brazil. I went to Elizabeth Arden Red Door on 5th Avenue (NYC) at the recommendation of a friend. I didn’t really know what to expect.
A large, middle-aged, platinum-blonde, Russian woman named Greta was assigned to my case. She hovered over me, wielding her tools of paper and wax as I cowered on what closely resembled an operating table, stripped of nearly everything, including my dignity. During the ripping and yanking of follicles from places that I, myself, doubt I’d ever viewed, two thoughts were pushing past my screams. First, her accent kept making me think of vodka, which I wished I had downed a bottle of prior to arrival. Second, I didn’t know I had hair on my internal organs, and damn it, Greta was going to get every last speck of it.
Over the course of the next seven years, I had gotten many waxes. But I could count on one hand (or I just blocked it out like an alien abduction) the times that I went as far as the Brazilian wax.
Getting ready for my beach vacation this year, I debated whether or not to do it. But in the end, I figured the 20 minutes of agony could very well be worth it. A friend made us appointments at the fancy W salon in the Iguatemi Shopping mall (this type of procedure falls into the category of “you get what you pay for.”) This time, I planned on being prepared.
It had been two years since my last Brazilian wax, so the flesh was practically virgin. Before I even left my apartment, I sucked back two Tylenol and a vodka-pineapple juice. At the salon, my friend went first. While I waited, I threw back two more Tylenol and flagged down another cocktail from the salon’s café.
So went I got on that table, I was feeling pretty good. There was an option for a “delicado” waxing, which eliminates the hair from your labia. However my Portuguese is too bad, and I was too drunk, to even know if I elected to have this. But you know what? My strategy worked. I felt little pain, and the alcohol softened, in increments of seconds, the memory of the pain that I did experience. I highly recommend this pre-op process for those contemplating the Brazilian wax.
But the wax is only necessary if you plan on sporting Brazilian ocean attire.
The bathing suit
If I were commissioned to create a contraption to make my boobs look smaller and my ass look bigger, it would closely resemble the Brazilian bathing suit. For years my husband tried to convince me that this combination of features was what Brazilian men liked. But I’ve seen enough fake breasts and tightened asses walking around the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to know that this is either a fat lie, or that women actually do alter their appearances not for men, but for other women. Regardless, if I want to evade a constant barrage of complaints from my man, my body is stuck in a Brazilian bikini on the beach.
Here, I would like to take a moment to address the fallacy of the beautiful Brazilian woman. For some reason, people all over the world tend to believe that the women of Brazilian all have perfect bodies, thus having something over the rest of us. This is simply not true. For those foreign women intimidated out of visiting Brazil because you think you’ll be facing off with an army of gorgeous natives, trust me, the ratio of “beautiful women” to “average women” to “not-so-attractive women” is no different than anywhere else I’ve been. (Scratch that off my list of “becoming brazilian” must-do’s.) I think this myth must have started with the popularity of the song The Girl from Ipanema back in the sixties. It may have also been promoted by the fact that residents of Rio were seen in what was probably considered scantily clad bathing suits, at a time when the Western world was watching Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon sport conservative attire in Beach Blanket Bingo. (The only city I’ve seen that actually does provide residence to an abundance of freakishly beautifully women is Prague. However, beach season there is nearly non-existent, so no worries fellow female travelers.)
There is one feature that all Brazilian women share. In my opinion, they all seem to have really good butts. Their butts are on the smaller side and high. I don’t know why this is so prevalent, considering Brazil is as big of a heritage melting pot as the U.S. if not more. Perhaps the act of walking along the beach or dodging traffic forms the butt muscles in a certain fashion. So the Brazilian bikini bottom accentuates this this type of behind nicely. Unfortunately, I do not have a Brazilian butt. Mine is much more fleshy and wiggly, and hangs kind of low. So the cut of the bikini on me creates an effect that resembles a cannoli.
I have yet to see a Brazilian bathing suit with padding, so that also works against me. The bikini top design tends to be either two triangles or a tube shape, much more functionial for breasts that have a bit of density to them.
Though the cut of the Brazilian bikini is unfortunate in my case, you will find the most beautiful bathing suits from a design and quality perspective in this country. On a serious suit, the material is superior in durability and movement. Colors are amazing to the point where many qualify as art and often include embroidery and beading. Accessories are equally gorgeous. So while you may not be enhancing your best features on the beach, you will at least look glamorous.
I tried to go shopping for a Brazilian bikini. I really did. But in the end, I told myself I could skate by one more trip in my Old Navy, covers the stomach, padded bra suit. I mean, it’s really not THAT bad…
…and one just for good measure.
Wish me luck.