The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Where’s the fairest of them all? Fashion & Style in Brazil vs. Britain

It’s March, a month when residents of the Displaced Nation turn to fashion ideas, beauty tips and other frivolities we’ve gathered from our travels. To kick off the discussion, we’re delighted to have Georgia Campello as today’s guest. She is married to our newest contributor, Andy Martin — and apparently more qualified to comment on such topics than he. A Brazilian (the couple currently live in São Paulo), Georgia has also lived in Britain. How do the beauty and fashion standards compare?

— ML Awanohara

According to my humble observations of my home country (Brazil) and the country where I once lived as an expat (Britain), and trying not to generalize too far, I think it’s fair to say that Brazilian and British women possess somewhat different ideals of fashion and beauty.

Of course they do, I can hear you say. What can women who live in a country known for sunshine and beaches have in common with the female occupants of a rainy, overcast island? It doesn’t snow in Brazil (and in most places it doesn’t get cold at all), so you are not going to see many women in woolly hats, gloves and scarves. Similarly, women in the UK rarely appear in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops — except on the rare days when the sun suddenly shines.

Yet it’s also true that Britain and Brazil produce many of the world’s most famous beauties: Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole; Gisele Bündchen, Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima.

And even on the level of the ordinary commoner in each of these countries — by that I mean, those of us who aren’t tall, size-zero goddesses — in my experience, we have similar everyday beauty routines: shower every day, shampoo/conditioner, moisturizer, some make-up, some sort of hair styling and off we go… (Is that not the case for most women?)

Have you had a Brazilian?

But hey, it is not that simple.

It seems that Brazilians have put a little more thought into it; at least regarding new procedures and technologies. What do you get before wearing a bikini? That’s right, a Brazilian. It’s even in the Oxford Dictionary!

Have you had a Britain? It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

A quick Google search starting with “Brazilian” will also get you a Brazilian blow dry and even a Brazilian butt lift.

It’s funny how adding this adjective attaches credibility to such a wide range of treatments. Maybe because Brazilian women are associated with beautiful, half-naked, sun-kissed, beach babes with gorgeous bodies dancing samba.

Well, sorry, guys; that is not the case for most of us.

The fakest of them all?

But I digress.

On the whole, most Brazilian women are indeed more concerned about the way they look and spend much more time/effort/money than most British women do on changing their looks rather than enhancing their natural assets. While women in Britain may flirt with the idea of changing their looks to something other than what they were born with, in my native country they go a little further. Brazil is in the Top Three for plastic surgeries, whereas the UK is 17th.

And you don’t even have to go under the knife. It’s easy to find grown women in Brazil wearing braces to correct their teeth. Likewise, it’s hard to find a woman in Brazil who hasn’t changed her hair color and/or texture with some sort of chemical treatment. As a result, you can see a lot of blonde girls with straight hair all over the place, even when their complexion does little to favor this combination.

A UK equivalent might be the “Oompa Loompas” you see walking around with silly amounts of fake tan on their faces and bodies, or the women with so much make-up they look like they’re wearing masks.

At least we Brazilians have no need for a fake tan, thanks to our relentlessly hot and sunny climate. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to avoid the sun in this part of the world.

Call in the fashion police

For me the biggest difference in style relates to the price/availability of clothes. In the UK you have a choice depending on your budget: designer or High Street. People who don’t have much money can still be stylish as the High Street provides inexpensive knockoffs of the latest looks.

In Brazil, by contrast, clothes tend to be VERY expensive. The so-called popular stores are not cheap, and the quality of the garments they sell is rather poor.

Also, because we’re in the Southern hemisphere, European Fashion Weeks are showing autumn/winter collections while we are boiling at 30+ºC. By the time the latest seasonal styles arrive here, they feel outdated.

There are exceptions, of course, but I do regard British women as more stylish than us Brazilians.

Having said all that, I would caution against making too much of the differences between British and Brazilian women. In the end, most of us women, regardless of nationality, tend to enjoy looking and feeling good. And, as we all know, every woman has her own unique beauty or appeal — which at some level has little to do with her country of origin.

* * *

Thanks, Georgia! Readers, any questions for her? Are you, too, sensitive to beauty and fashion differences between your country of origin and where you are living now (or have lived)? Please share in the comments!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, also on fashion and beauty.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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