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Body Cult in Brazil – In the Land of Beauty Ideals

March 24, 2023
Beauty plays a big role in Brazil

A beauty ideal is a contemporary concept of beauty within a culture. As a rule, the term refers to the appearance of the body and face. Ideas of beauty that refer to clothing, jewelry, or hairstyle are referred to as fashion. Beauty ideals exist for both sexes, but because of their social position, they have played and continue to play a greater role for women than for men, both in their self-image and in external perceptions. Male and female ideals of beauty change over time, are related to each other and at least partially coincide with each other. But the opposite is also sometimes true, with a strong emphasis on gender differences.

Like every culture, Brazil has beauty norms. In 2016, Brazil ranked second among the countries with the most cosmetic surgery in the world. According to estimates by the "International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery", only the United States had more. A full 13.9 percent of all cosmetic surgery in the world was performed in Brazil in 2016. Yet less than three percent of the world's population lives here. If you want to better understand the background of Brazilian beauty ideals before your Brazil vacation, read on!

Beauty ideals

Like every culture, the Brazilian one has developed its own beauty ideals. Beauty, body cult, and aesthetics have a long tradition in Brazil. "Cult" is who is "beautiful", or who at least corresponds to the Brazilian ideal of beauty. In Brazil, for example, the ideal of beauty concerns hair, with a preference for blond and straight hair, a hair type that only a tiny minority of the population has. Skin color and face ideally correspond to the models in European and American films. As for physique, the recurring social norm is clear. To be beautiful means to be thin, with large breasts and buttocks. To feel like one belongs to Brazilian society, one must conform to these beauty norms at a young age. As teenagers, Brazilians are taught to tuck in their stomachs in photos, to choose clothes that make the stomach look flat, to prefer black clothes because they make us look slim, and that we must exercise and diet constantly to avoid losing weight control. At the same time, advertising has a clear influence on beauty trends.

An entire industry

The beauty industry includes countless aspects that are reinforced by these aesthetic patterns. It includes nutrition, cosmetics, gyms, and health, such as drugs that promise quick weight loss results through chemical agents, and nutritionists who design diet plans for thousands of women who want nothing more than a "beach body." As a result, this part of the industry has experienced tremendous growth in Brazil. The beauty industry advertises diet shakes, electrical devices, and instruments that are supposed to train abdominal and other muscles, artificial pills that are supposed to make the belly disappear and take away the appetite. Moreover, the female characters that appear on the screens in various commercials, telenovelas, and movies are always played by so-called "perfect" women. They are slim, beautiful, have flawless skin and hair, eat salad, jog in the park, or work out in gyms. The same stereotypes can be found on the covers of magazines and journals, often aided by the Photoshop program to reinforce the image of perfection. In contrast, however, the general population of Brazilians is getting fatter and living more and more unhealthily, so that for many these standards are a long way off and can only be achieved by artificial means such as surgery and pills.

Cosmetic surgery

Brazilian cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery, which has always been in high demand, was second only to the United States in the entire world. In 2018, Brazil became the country with the most cosmetic surgeries in the world for the first time. With around 1.5 million cosmetic and plastic procedures, the South Americans were just ahead of the U.S. in first place.
Many cosmetic surgeries in today's sense are in some ways a Brazilian invention. The main purpose is ultimately to show off one's own body, one's own skin. Both men and women are regular customers of surgeons when it comes to the shapely body zones of the abdomen, legs, and buttocks. But going to the gym is also one of the alternatives when it comes to body attractiveness.

Fitness is part of it

According to the "National Association of Fitness Academies", Brazil is now the country with the second most facilities in the world after the United States, with around 22,000 establishments of this type, and has more facilities and members than all other South American countries combined. Many of the fitness trends come from the U.S. and are being implemented in Brazil with a certain time lag. For example, the "Functional Fitness" trend, which is designed to specifically prepare the body for daily activities, has been particularly popular since 2022. After all, for many in Brazil, the ideal of beauty includes a subscription to and motivation for the gym.


Brazil has the highest per capita consumption of cosmetics in the world. Hair and body care products in particular take up much more space in supermarkets than elsewhere. Most women go there at least once a week. Even three-year-olds practice painting their fingernails. Girls get their first earrings shortly after birth. What begins in childhood continues into adulthood. Anyone who is not looked at in Brazil does not exist. Hair, nails, clothes, makeup: everything has to fit in Brazil. No fewer than 265,000 beauty salons are registered throughout the country. In this context, many other trends have become established, such as "Brazilian Waxing". The beauty ideals in Brazil are constantly being adapted and changed to meet current requirements.

Everything for beauty

For many, Brazil is a country where beauty and appearance play a special role. It is not without reason that most of the winners of the "Miss Universe" contest come from Latin American countries. Numerous means are used to meet these self-imposed high standards. This can also be an inspiration for many other cultures and countries. So, if you want to get to know and be inspired by other beauty ideals during your Brazil trip, you will find many ideas in Brazil!

Sources: www.fluter.de, www.ila-web.de, www.mordorintelligence.com, www.wikipedia.org

Source: Aventura do Brasil