“There is a positive side to living in a Machismo country” – as said by my wise half Carioca female friend.
Carioca women are not virgins when it comes to the beauty scene and the Carioca man does not think of it as a special treat. Listen to any woman receive a phone call from her husband while getting her nails done and you’ll see that it is on the household to do list right up there with going to the grocery store.
What you need to understand is that going to the salon here is not a treat. It’s like taking your car to the mechanic only it’s your wife and she needs to get painted at least every other week if not more. And the best part is that it is never questioned.
Take me at the salon today. I got my hair highlighted and trimmed. The hairdresser’s aid asked if I was also planning on getting a manicure and pedicure. I for one would like to think that she asked out of habit and not because it looked like I clawed myself out of the ground with only my finger and toe nails as tools. I asked the price and she hesitated as if she is not commonly asked that. She said “oh. Let me go check.”
Upon her return I felt a little subconscious and jokingly commented “I would hate to spend too much and piss off my husband.” followed by a little wink. That really only made things worse. I got the full on what-the-hell-is-she-talking-about overly long look.
Duh, husbands here don’t question the cost of beauty. I’m not lying. The men here have no freaking clue what the woman spend on beauty and they don’t seem to care. In this machismo country women are in control of the beauty domain and the men don’t even question it. My guess as to why is because they want and expect the woman to be as beautiful as she can be. Certain things are actually expected of women here such as hairlessness and well done nails. And before you tell me that it is a class thing, I have had 3 different maids comment on my non-manicured hands and state that I needed to get on that.
It is a cultural habit. Women take care of themselves and by take care of themselves I mean do it all. The woman here, of all classes, do hair treatments, nails and waxing regularly. The upper classes add in lymphatic drainage and cellulite massages. This is something completely unrelated to exercise and weight. Regardless of you being the hard body at Posto 9 in Ipanema or a normal Mom in Leme, you have your nails done my friend.
And this is an area in which I have a hard time adapting. I don’t particularly enjoy going to the salon nor do I want to spend an hour having someone pick at my nails. On the other hand, when all is said and done I see a very big difference.
Now ask me if Mr Rant cares if I blow money on this kind of thing. Of course not. He actually openly asks why I don’t do it more often. Even when times are tough he doesn’t seem to see why I “shouldn’t” go and get my nails done. It’s like buying toilet paper. Sure things are tough but you still need to wipe your ass after using the butt hose.
I know what you are thinking, it is cheaper to do this kind of thing in Rio de janeiro. You’re right, it is. Of course it does start to add up when you do absolutely everything, something many Carioca women do.
Regardless of it being a necessity or pampering, this kind of thing always makes me feel like I’m celebrating my womanhood. Maybe the Brazilian way of making it a norm also makes celebrating womanliness a norm. That is something that I could get behind.