Brazil is known for a few things, including awesome waves, aggressive surfers and fresh acai by the bucket, but there is one aspect of Brazilian culture that has been made far more famous thanks to the multi-page Reef ads that show bronzed booties throughout our favorite surf magazines. By popular demand, this column will be dedicated to the article of “clothing” that Brazil is most famous for: the bikini.
I’m not entirely sure if the swimsuits worn here can be referred to as clothing, but what I am sure of is that you might need a magnifying glass to find the subtle fabric that partially covers Brazilian beach goers. Even the most scandalous American swimsuits would look like a nun’s robes here in the country that celebrates backsides above all else. I have seen bikinis here that very closely resemble a shoelace, which either looks like a naughty dream come true, or an awful nightmare depending on whom these miniscule articles might be adorning.
At first I was slightly taken aback by the comfort that Brazilians feel while wearing next to nothing, but as time has passed, it has become obvious to me that it’s a cultural nuance that is at the very core of the Brazilian way of life. Everywhere you go, you see advertisements featuring images that would never make it onto the bus stops and billboards of America. Their culture values curves more than anything, and I’m sure that you would never find the typical rail-thin physique of famed American models in Brazilian popular culture. Even the mannequins at the mall are rocking hips and butts that would put Jennifer Lopez to shame.
This leads many of my American lady friends in Brazil to ask the question while shopping, “that’s hot, but how would that look on a normal person?” Here, that is a normal person. Maybe it’s something in the water, or maybe Brazilians have some kind of dietary secret that ensures that all their weight goes straight to the rear, but most women that I see strutting their tight jeans down the street look like they would be bursting out of them like the incredible hulk if a single stitch came loose. The butts are huge, and as a matter of fact, they even posses their own gravitational pulls.
Brazilian men are probably the most forward breed of males in the world due to this gravity, causing catcalling and butt slapping like they were ten beers deep when they are actually stone cold sober. They see the string bikini, and the thoroughly tanned gluts, and the rest of the world doesn’t exist. It seems to work for them, but for an American like myself it’s a little harder to swallow the social etiquette that we grew up with and really flirt with Brazilians on their level, which would be to the status of maximum creepiness in the United States. Forget the small talk, bars here see more ass-grabbing than the champagne room at a Vegas strip club.
The point I’m trying to make is that Brazil revolves around butts, and there is no better way to celebrate a fanny than to wrap it up with string like a big bronze present and deliver it to the local beach. And the comfort is contagious. The men here wear a typical pair of swim shorts referred to as a “sunga,” which is basically the same as a Speedo. Right off the plane I probably wouldn’t have been caught dead in one of those at the beach, but after a few weeks I was rocking a tie-die, zebra striped sunga with the best of them.
Why not? No matter what shape or size a person is in Brazil, everyone is the most comfortable when they are nearest to naked. I even have to give props to the heftier ladies that completely envelope their bikinis, and the old dudes that are rocking mini afros on their shoulder blades. I’ve always been a fan of nudity, and I think that Brazilians have some kind of psychological advantage because of this comfort that they possess. Even if I learn nothing else in my time here in Brazil, I will have learned that when you want to relax at the beach, less is always more, and if I wasn’t returning in January, you would all have to deal with my scrap of tie-die zebra print on the beach.