Road To Beauty: What I Learnt About The Proud Beauty Of Brazilian women

Louise D discovers that beauty Brazilian-style comes from strength of character.

What Does ‘Being Beautiful’ Mean To You?
To me, being beautiful means being content with who you are, living your emotions to the fullest, and being spontaneous, in a nutshell, being the person that makes you different from everyone else. Being beautiful today also means keeping a sense of innocence, a sense of childhood wonder. In Brazil, the fact that we didn’t speak Portuguese forced us to communicate through looks, gestures and emotions. So even though I ended up clowning around sometimes, it made me be genuine, be myself more.

How Do Brazilian Women Express Their Beauty?
Brazilian women treat their skin and hair with great tenderness. Their relationship with their body is delicate, but at the same time they are incredibly strong and proud women.

What they consider beautiful can be quite different to how we perceive beauty, especially in the Amazon. For instance, the Indian women paint their skin to be beautiful. In Tatulândia, I spent a long time watching the village women wash the paint away with a kitchen sponge. I didn’t really know what to do. I offered to help them, it was surreal, washing away these beautiful designs, these works of art on skin, with a plain, everyday kitchen sponge! But this initiation to their beauty ritual was my way of opening a line of communication with them.

What Beauty Lesson Will You Take Home From This Trip?
I learnt a beauty lesson from Beth Coelho, a strong woman who manages a ranch in the Pantanal. She’s an authoritarian woman who has had to overcome more than a few struggles in her life. And yet she has still managed to keep the outlook of a seventeen year-old! She gets misty-eyed when you sing her an Edith Piaf song or when she starts dancing. Watching her, I thought: “be dignified, be respectful of your own beauty.” In a word, physical beauty isn’t enough. The most important thing is to be proud of who you are and what you do. In Rio, on the beach, the volley-ball players were simply gorgeous when they looked for the ball, caught it, and ended up hugging to congratulate each other. This is beauty in action.

Did You Find Beauty In Unexpected Places?
I saw beauty in pure chaos, during one of our worst days. We were riding under the pouring rain, on muddy tracks flooded with orange water, and I suddenly started feeling like a paintbrush on my bike, sketching the landscape. I also loved the smell of roots, damp earth, drenched wood, where it sometimes reeks of furry wild beasts.

Is there a difference between beauty in Rio and beauty in the Amazon?
Yes, definitely. I think that in Rio, beauty ideals are more American. In the Amazon, the media doesn’t influence women…, their gestures are different, they walk and move in a completely different way, which I found totally fascinating.



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