In February I was fortunate to be a part of an amazing trip to Brazil. I'll be posting more about the trip soon. But to start, this is the story of crazy hair, tiny bikinis and the amazing culture of Brazil.
It all started with crazy hair. My hair is naturally a bit wavy, but how wavy depends on a ton of factors. Usually I wear it straight. I brought a few simple hair products to Brazil with me but none of them served much purpose. The combination of intense humidity and heat along with the water (I don't know what exactly but the water was involved) resulted in hair that just wouldn't be tamed. I tried pulling it back, using much hairspray, but just ended up with a face framing frizz fest. So, after compliments and some deep conditioner, I decided to embrace my wild crazy brazilian hair.
I was fascinated by the women's hair and when I felt comfortable enough I would ask them about hair products. I couldn't even find a good translation for it. They seem to simply wash, condition and wear. At a field trip to a mega market, I found no hairspray - none.Seriously ZERO bottles. They had one bottle of mousse but otherwise just tons of conditioner options. I did purchase some conditioner which made my hair look much less light socket induced and more crazy beach hair. So the conditioner did help.
But I embraced the hair. I washed and conditioned it and just let it air dry and do what it wanted. No product, no hair dryer, no curing irons, just natural. And I kinda liked it. And I got complimented on it. And all I did was let it be.
I didn't really think too deeply about it until I visited the Copacabana beach in Rio. At the beach in Brazil, everyone wears bikinis. Young and old, tan or pale (but mostly very tan), men and women and every body type there is - all wore tiny bikini bottoms. Most of the women wore thongs and almost all the men wore boy shorts (I finally realized the source of that term). The only men in board shorts and women in one pieces were the tourists. I've never felt over dressed wearing a bikini, until Rio.
But no one seemed to be worried about what was hanging out, or stretch marks, or cellulite, or skin blemishes in unusual places (yes, butt zits were on display). The men weren't worried about being hairy or having a gut - and many of the had both. It was nothing like I have ever seen on a beach in California.
And it was amazing, and revolutionary and freeing. Everyone wore them and clearly no one cared. No one made funny looks at anyone else - except the look of shock on our American faces. They just accepted each other as is. It is hot and humid so tiny bikinis are how you keep comfortable. They are function not a status indicator of a great body.
But don't think there was a lack of magnificent bodies. I saw some of the most beautiful bodies I have ever seen - right out of a magazine no joke - but I saw every type of body in the spectrum with no concern about covering up.
Brazilians seem to embrace who they are physically in a way that would be beneficial to many like myself. We are who we are and while we should work to stay healthy, we should also embrace and accept who we are with hair and body. If you have a rocking bod feel free to show it off, but if you are an average 'Jane' don't limit yourself to cover ups.
I may not be ordering a thong bikini anytime soon, but I will be attempting to embrace my natural wild hair a bit more often. The Brazilians have seem to have body image figured out.