Monday, January 16, 2006

Cultural Observations of Brasil

Cultural Observations:
Whenever I post a few “cultural observations” I will try to post something that seems unique about Brazilian culture, or at least different from the culture I’m used to in the US.
First and foremost is the dress of Brazilian women. They seem to definitely love their bodies and are not afraid of showing them off. I’m not really talking about nakedness or anything; they just show off their stomachs, their backs, their legs, etc. Even if they do not fit the normal idea of “beautiful” as we have it in the states, they seem to have a great deal of self-esteem and confidence in themselves. I’m sure there are many who don’t, but again, this is just my observation and I have only been here for a little more than a week.
One other thing about the dress: pregnant women love to show off the fact that they will be having a baby soon. Even some of the other students commented on how unusual it was to see the women wearing very tight shirts that showed off the bottom half of their stomach, or even see through shirts that showed the stomach (not the chest). In one way I kind of think “wow that’s pretty unusual” but I can’t help but to appreciate the confidence they have here. I think it’s pretty awesome that they think “hey I’m pregnant and I’m having a baby and that’s a beautiful thing and there’s nothing about it that I need to hide.”
The idea with which I came here (given to me by my friends), that Brazilian women at the beach just liked to walk around topless and stuff, wasn’t true, but they definitely aren’t covering much up. I learned this at Ilha do Mel. Also something I learned at Ilha do Mel is that if you’re Brazilian, you have to dance. I’m trying to learn but not only is it difficult, I haven’t even had the chance to take a lesson yet. We’re supposed to be learning samba, but I would like to learn a few other styles as well along with capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Since I know a lot of my guy friends are reading this, I’d just like to comment on the fact that despite popular American beliefs, Brazilian women are very similar to American women. I don’t mean in terms of dress or hairstyle or anything superfluous like that, I just mean in terms of proportionality between the super-hot, the very attractive, the attractive, and the not so attractive. It’s pretty similar, as the ones who fall into the first three categories are as equally noticeable as the ones who fall into the last category.
Another cultural difference I have noticed is the affection towards one another, at least within the extended family. When I come home or someone comes home, it is pretty much unconsciously mandated that you hug and kiss him or her on the cheek. At the very beginning of my trip here I felt that this might be kind of awkward for me, since this is something we just don't do in America, but it actually has turned out to be okay. I mean, you pretty much have to hug and kiss everyone.
Pretty soon I will have pictures of the entire family, but it includes Miriam, Josef, Mihaela (her name sounds awesome; I might like to name a daughter that), Johannes, Bianca, Christian, Nathalia, and just about anyone else who comes over on the weekends, even if they’re not really related they’re still family here. It’s pretty awesome stuff. I’m going to try to start a movement for this sort of thing when I return to the US, because I think it will help everyone loosen up a little bit and not take life so seriously.
Right now those are the only things I really have to post about. Stay tuned for more observations from Zack, as I should be able to post more of them as I wander about and get lost in the city of Curitiba.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading about your experiences in Brazil. About the hugging and kissing, it is also true of families in West Africa. The French show affection by giving three kisses on the cheek to friends and family. I agree that it should be done in the U.S. and it is with certain populations in the South.

Carolyn Anderson