For Westerners, nay Northern Europeans, one of the things that surprise many when first visiting some Latin American countries is the number of women (and a few men) who have undergone surgical body changes in a bid to beautify themselves.
The hotter the general climate in the country, the more prevalent the trend. Thus, the likes of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela regularly appear in the top five of lists measuring cosmetic plastic surgery rates among populations. In fact, according to statistics from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Brazil has overtaken the United States as the country with the most surgical procedures performed worldwide. (For the record [2013 figures], the top five is [in per cent] Brazil 12.9, United States 12.5, Mexico 4.2, Germany 3, and Colombia 2.5.)
Looking at it from one perspective, it makes some sense. When you come from a land where you tend not to wear many clothes, you want the large proportion of your body on display to look as good as it can. If you come from the more northern or southern extremes of the planet, for a good portion of the year (if not all of it) you can comfortably cover up your 'not-so-attractive' parts.
So that Brazilian women spend 11-times more of their annual incomes on beauty products than their British counterparts, according to a 2014 study by research group Kantar, shouldn't come as a big surprise.
However, there are shoots of a change in emphasis emerging.
A new company, Nude Agency, wants Brazil's women to feel comfortable and confident with, and beautiful in, the bodies they have, without believing that they must first reach for the surgical knife.
Founders Darcy Toledo and Jane Walter offer "ordinary women" the chance to feel like a top fashion model for the day, and gain a portfolio of professionally taken "sensual" photographs.
The Sao Paolo-based business, created in 2006, receives about two clients every day. These are more often women aged between 35 and 45. However, Nude Agency has had customers as old as 60.
Those women who have availed of the service speak about the experience boosting their confidence and self esteem. "I can tell you it was one of the best investments I ever made. There is no price for self esteem", one happy client said.
The photo shoots vary in price, ranging from 1,250 Brazilian reals (US$442) up to 5,250 reals, depending on the number to be taken.
Customers can also choose to have a mocked-up fashion magazine, or get a calendar made.
Another business offering something similar is Projecto Provador, which was founded in a shopping mall in the northern Brazilian city of Recife in 2009 by Mari Patriota.
Not only does Ms Patriota photograph women in-studio, but she has also created a travel element to the company, where clients are flown to beach resorts for photo shoots by the sea, as well as getting a holiday.
Memories last a lifetime as they say, so if it comes to a choice of either an operating theatre or sun holiday, which would you go for? Who cares if the ‘flesh’ is weak as long as the body is willing?
Brazil: learning that, perhaps, there is more to life than the surface beauty of one's skin.
LatinAmerican Post | By