Brazil | Beauty x Cash

Brazil | Robert Habib ’13

My study group roped me into exploring the beauty industry in Brazil. Brazilian women spend eleven times more of their income on beauty care than British women. My suggestion that British women are simply more beautiful to begin with, was met with derision in my class. But this does give me an excuse to legitimately, and indeed academically, comment on what lies before me in Brazil. I have seen elegant women full of style, but also espousing a fairly natural approach to makeup. I’ll look continue looking for more comments.

Deep in such thoughts I received a concerned and ‘told you so’ message from my mother, reprimanding me for forgetting the Brazilian Reals she had kindly left for me. Along with my US credit cards, US dollars, keys and US immigration documents. Fortunately I had my UK credit cards. Of the 8 ATMs in a row at Sao Paolo GRU airport, there was a large queue in front of precisely one of them. When I finally got to a semi-functioning, English speaking ATM in Florianopolis airport, the clearly displayed daily withdrawal limit reminded me of the prevalence of ‘express kidnapping’ in Brazil. Here’s one idea from New York – get rid of cash, you’ll have fewer more secure ATM machines, and the express kidnappings might reduce too. The state would need to encourage uptake of chip and pin machines of course.

I suspect this simplistic view ignores the underlying forces driving express kidnapping in Brazil, particularly enormous economic inequality. Hopefully I’ll find out more in the coming 10 days.

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