Sand Discrimination


Yesterday at the beach, instead of sporting my usual Brazilian bikini with cover-up, I wore a tankini.


If you aren’t familiar, a tankini is a two-piece bathing suit with a tank top, complete with padding, and a matching pair of swim boy-shorts. It’s like clothing, but you can wear it in the water!

Wearing this to Leblon beach is probably my biggest cultural faux-pas to date. I can feel my Brazilian husband cringing through the internet.

Listen, I’m usually a comedy on a Brazilian beach anyway.  I’m pale. I throw down a large plastic Pottery Barn (awesome) beach mat in front of the beach chairs instead of the customary canga (that item is usually wrapped around my Brazilian bikini). I sometimes bring my own food. So why not throw a tankini on top of the pile?

My main reason for wearing the tankini is that my daughter likes to play. She likes to jump the waves and run around in the sand. And she wants me to do it with her. Romping around the beach is just so much more comfortable wearing a tankini.

Brazil being the land of bikinis, and not just any bikinis, but the skimpy, high-butt-cut bikinis, of course I received some smirks and stares. Did the rather large (more than 300 lbs) woman a few spots down from us receive any smirks? Did the 90-year-old woman hiking it along the shoreline received smirks? Nope. That’s the beauty of Brazilian culture – all are accepted in a bikini. But tankini girl? Not so much.

I tried to tell myself that I was ahead of the curve. That I was sporting a cool, retro, Annette Funicello 60’s look that everyone would soon be wearing on the beaches of Brazil.

Ok, maybe that will never happen. But my daughter and I certainly had a great time playing in the waves.

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35 Responses to Sand Discrimination

  1. Ha. I felt this too on the beaches in Brazil. Juan wanted me to buy bikinis, which I eventually did, but I never got him in those weird speedo things. Fair? I think not.

  2. April says:

    Such a great post… I feel like a grandma every time I head to the beach here!

  3. Rachel says:

    Hey, I have kids and I do not bust out the tankini. I do, however, search for reasonably sized Brazilian bikinis for playing with the children. It has gotten much easier to find bikinis that work for Mothers as well as “fit in” on the beach. I love it because I feel good in them and comfortable. Of course my MIL bought me some bikinis for my last bday. They are TINY. She says that my children are now old enough to more or less play in the sand on their own so I can return to the normal bikini. I think it may be a hint 😉

  4. I prefer swimming and the beach nude, but since that is not an option I guess one day I’ll get a bikini. It’s been a loong time since I wore one!

    All I have now are my 2 competition suits from my Masters Swim Club!!!!! I am quite a sight at the swimming hole here. But the evangelicals have laid tracks for me. Swimwear is pretty conservative to outlandishly small here.

    • HA! I also have a competition suit that I pulled out once at a hotel here. I thought my husband was going to pass out from embarrassment. Nice that you aren’t alone. Sometimes I think I’d be better off bare – the Brazilian bikini wasn’t made for my body. I just don’t have the butt for it.

  5. Geraldine Gaia says:

    OMG I am dying here!!! so funny!! My mother in law sent me a Brazilian bikini when I was in NY and I only wore it here in Brazil. I would probably get death stares in the states. My husband’s cousin went to NY to visit and almost got kicked out the water park for wearing a “regular” Brazilian bathing suit!
    Here in Brazil I am not allowed to wear my American “grandma” bathing suits (as my dear husband calls them) they are “embarrassing”, can you believe that?!?! I felt like I needed to cover my Latina butt with boy shorts but in Brazil, all is fair.

    • Same here! My husband insists on the Brazilian bikinis too! (But he’s not here.) And I definitely don’t have the shape for these garments. It makes butt looks like a cannoli. Not a delicious one.
      My husband has definitely gotten the odd look for wearing his Brazilian suit in the U.S.

    • Oh oh! This reminds me when I was in Ocean City Maryland about 1986 or so, Ms. World or something like that happened to be there, and she was Brazilian, and she got kicked off the beach! No things (at that time) allowed. I was a teen and was baffled. I didn’t think it as sexy at all.

      It also sparked my memory of Turkey. I was a suicide prevention hotline counselor, and when I saw a woman walking into the Black Sea you know what I thought- suicide! I started to run after her, screaming to my Turkish friends, when they grabbed me and almost took me down! lol She was just swimming. That’s how the more conservative Muslim women do it, head scarf and all.

  6. Meg Hudson says:

    Oh how I can relate!!!!!!! I am heading to Brazil for six weeks and have been dreading the thought of going on the beach with my skirted bathing suit.

  7. I wear a tentini to the beach (a tent with a collar), and am proud of it.
    Btw, Annette Funicello was hot,

  8. Jenna says:

    I am wearing whatever I want and they can stare all they want, I don’t care!! I will not cave to cultural pressure. Whenever I feel pressure form society to do something I don’t want to do I say to myself “do these strangers pay my bills?”, and “will I ever see them again”??? I mean I’m not trying to garner votes for an election after all. If they couldn’t get me to conform in the States they certainly aren’t going to get me to conform in Brazil. This puts me in the right frame of mind.

    Stand tall girl 🙂 Start a tankini revolution.

  9. Amanda says:

    As I have yet to make it to a beach here, I cannot relate to anyone haha. What I do want to say is that I have started my own expat blog here and I would like to know if I can put yours on my “other blogs” page. I figured I would be nice and ask first 🙂
    I just started mine, but feel free to pass it on to whoever you want. Thanks.

    • bornagainbrazilian says:

      No way!! Hope these ladies are more interesting. Love the Poltergeist clip. Huge horror movie fan I am.

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