This fresh and new outsider perspective surely gave depth to my comprehension of the topic, but how much have my views changed? THAT is something I’m very curious to unveil…So let’s get to it!
What’s Beautiful in Brazil
To understand Brazilian beauty is to dive into the culture, climate, customs, and traditions of that country. Brazilian women tend to take a lot of pride in their looks, but there are limitations.
The constant hustle-bustle of living in a developing economy, and especially under almost year-round bright suns, ensures that we take it easy when it comes to dressing up. Still, somehow we make it work, simply by leveraging a few of the tricks we hold up our sleeves.
Manicured nails are a must, as well as waxed legs and any body parts that get exposed.
Cleanliness is very important to Brazilian women. Manicured nails are a must, as well as waxed legs and any body parts that get exposed. We often wear sleeveless shirts and skirts or dresses to deal with the weather, and we must ensure that hair isn’t the first thing people notice right after our dress.
The fabrics we opt for are also thin and breathable. Cotton and other thin materials are preferable, but we tend to add our own twist, designs, and colors in order to turn an everyday fabric into something more formal and fancy. Adding hand-sewn or crochet details, braids, and other modifications will turn any simple outfit into a unique piece of art that describes your personality.
When it comes to makeup, less is more. As our foundation melts under the sun and we need to cake on layers and layers of powder to keep us from looking like Leatherface, we have quickly come to learn that light-weight foundations (with sunscreen) and light makeup products are our allies. We tend to use products that are sourced from our forests and represent our culture and biodiversity. Our most popular makeup brand is called Natura, named after, you guessed it, nature.
However, despite the effort to make natural and simple look effortlessly delicate and pretty, Brazilian women get to have a lot of fun with their looks when it comes to going out.
On formal and party occasions, a Brazilian woman has no match. We really know how to put colors, fabrics, and looks together to catch every eye in the room. This is probably due to the fact that we don’t get to dress up much during the day, which leaves us with plenty of time to think about and concoct the perfect look.
Brazil is a very festive country, and we have many types of parties: traditional, costume, and, well, all parties in general, actually. Our love for makeup and the pride in our looks really come out at nighttime, and we’re able to be as creative as we can while having fun being the center of attention.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Brazil
Adriana Lima is a Brazilian runway and magazine model, actress, and lover of boxing for exercise. She’s best known for being a Victoria’s Secret Angel, as she was their longest-running model and was named "the most valuable Victoria's Secret Angel.” She was married to a Serbian basketball player Marco Jaric for seven years, and had two daughters with him, Valentina (11) and Sienna (8).
Now, why Adriana Lima? Because simply put, she represents Brazilian style and beauty perfectly.
Her blue eyes are indicative of ethnicity from the South, while her darker skin complexion is related to the Northern part of the country. A rare mix that harmonizes perfectly. The simplicity and effortlessness of her looks on everyday occasions and the attempt to stay as natural as possible while still holding onto pride and mindful beauty routines speak to us all.
How Brazilian Architecture and Nature Impacts Beauty Standards
We Brazilians like to draw inspiration from our environment. One big influence is Brazil’s colonial architecture that’s still present in most of our big cities (and popular tourist destinations). Towns like Ouro Preto, Salvador, and Paraty are filled with colorful paint, sculpted buildings, and detailed tiles. We like to bring these colors and details into our looks.
Another big influence is the natural regions of Brazil, which are also filled with richness and color. About 40% of Brazil is covered by the Amazon Rainforest, the world’s most biologically diverse geographical area and home to many colorful insects, animals, and flowers. Brazil also boasts the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical (and most pristine) wetland area (20 times larger than the Florida Everglades). The Pantanal has the highest concentration of wildlife on the continent, including more than 650 bird species. With these places of colorful and diverse flora and fauna, Brazilians have an awareness of nature and the natural resources it provides that play into our emphasis on natural beauty.
The Amazon Rainforest
Brazilian Beauty Standards vs. American Beauty Standards
And, at the end of this article I can finally reflect: What about me? How has my idea of beauty changed since moving to the United States?
Well, I felt like I had to adapt to the pressure of the “Latinas always look nice” and sort of forgot about my background growing up in fishermen villages.
I focused on wearing tons of makeup, doing my hair every day, and wearing high heels and clothes that would make me look like the women I saw on TV in an attempt to blend in with society here.
What I failed to realize is that Hollywood is not reality, and most people can appreciate authenticity and simplicity. I was often terrorized that anyone would see me without makeup, and it took me years to feel comfortable again with being who I am.
Perhaps I now more closely seek the relationship with beauty that I had when I was in Brazil, while still trying to figure out what is the true standard of beauty in America.
I believe that people find my “exotic” looks to be a nice feature, so I choose to embrace it completely and just listen to my roots. It’s not healthy to attempt to look like someone we’re not, as you can see from my curling iron scars and twisted high heel ankle.
I never learned how to master those properly, and maybe I never will, because I’m not meant to. I’m meant to improve on my natural gifts and not become a totally different and artificial person. And I think it’s high time I whole-heartedly believe in myself and commit to that.
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If you enjoyed this article, check out other articles in our "Beauty Standards Around The World" series: