Michelle Neri Rangel, a 27-year-old beauty dressed in a red evening gown with long curly hair, smiled brightly when her name was called as the winner of the Miss Talavera Bruce title. Except right behind her was a grey-haired guard in a watchtower over a 20-foot wall. Yes, the Miss Talavera Bruce Pageant takes place in a prison of the same name.
“This can only happen in Rio,” said to me a young male editor at a fashion magazine who wanted to remain anonymous, “Beauty is everything to us. I think beauty is valued above all else for us. We go to church looking beautiful. So, even in prison beauty is important.”
This editor had plastic surgery performed all over his body. He has had 17 surgeries to date. Everything from lips to breasts to the butt. According to the Sociedade Brasileira de Cirurgia Plástica (Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery) there were 276,000 plastic surgeries performed on men in 2014. That means for every 2 minutes of every hour of the day a Brazilian man is going under the knife somewhere.
“I’m not surprised,” said João, who said he would like to have eyelid surgery done when he has the money for it, “I know today in Brazil it’s not a shocker for a man to have plastic surgery. Maybe ten years ago it was not like that at all.”
João is right. In 2009 less than 100,000 Brazilian men had plastic surgery done, according to the SBCP.
Many of the Cariocas in the southern part of the city, I would say, are mostly doing beauty the traditional way. People are working out at gyms, both private and public, and are just conscious of their physical bodies. There are oceanfront boulevards that offer the space to be active. I have to point out that Zona Sul, or the South Zone, is full of physically fit people, attractive people, and even many who clearly enhanced their features.
However, I would argue, most people out of the southern portion of the city are average people like those anywhere else in the world. It’s just that the southern part of the city is populated with a lot of people in the entertainment industry, or industries dependent on that, and many of them are actually from elsewhere.
Beauty is a big business for Brazil. With nearly 50 billion in beauty revenues Brazil is the third largest after the United States and Japan. However, according to the global market research company Euromonitor, Brazil will overtake Japan in the coming years because in the past ten years Brazil’s beauty industry grew nearly 150% while Japan’s only grew by 40%.