I will be writing about this again, but I have been compiling information, photographs, etc… about the beauty culture here in Venezuela.
It’s serious. Just listen to this NPR clip about hair thievery a friend who’s Stateside suggested.
I’ve heard about these incidents of women getting mugged for their hair (which is then sold for hair extensions) but I never paid it much mind because (1) I knew someone wouldn’t press me for my hair and (2) it just seemed…out there. What I failed to recognize is what these crimes say about the huge beauty culture here in Venny.
Let me attempt to describe the cultural nuances of beauty here:
- The majority of women wear full on make-up to the gym then move just enough when exercising to (maybe) glisten, but definitely not sweat. Or, they just stand around talking and texting on their phones. The gym is a place to socialize and potentially meet someone. I honestly wonder if women secretly exercise at home because the bodies on some of ’em aren’t some “I-just-stand-around-and-text” bodies. Going to the gym here makes me look like some sports feen (which I’m not) because I am willing to sweat…and actually expect to when I step inside a gym facility.
- Here in Venny hair is long and flowing. It’s, at a minimum, mid-way down your back. I actually noticed one woman with a bob cut and thought how brave she was to cut her hair because hair here just isn’t short. Period.
- High heels and wedges abound despite cracked sidewalks, pot holes, and work days.
- And the amount of breast implants will have to be a post in and of itself. Let me just say that women walk around with breast implants the way school children walk around with book bags…it’s to be expected.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve grown more comfortable in my skin than when I was, say, in high school and college in the South, but I don’t find Venezuelan people to be judgmental that I fail to fit into this beauty aesthetic.
I don’t wear make-up. My hair does not flow down my back, and not one pair of high heels made it to Venny with me when my luggage was overweight.
Back home, I was a sloppy dresser. There’s no way around it. I was all about comfort and my academics. No one ever put me down because people just respected the fact I had certain priorities and one of them wasn’t beauty. I was trying to go places and academics was my way of getting to them. That being said, I did have this internal conflict where I wondered why I couldn’t be at least a little more fashionable and a little less frumpy.
Moving to NYC changed all of that. People accept all kinds of (crazy) looks because you don’t know what statement any one individual is attempting to make with their clothes.
Brooklyn called me beautiful before anyone else did.
Brooklyn loved me with no make-up, natural hair, and little sleep. For that, I’ll always be thankful to the burough.
And, to Venezuela, I just have to sit back and admire what women do here. I can’t judge. Hell, I respect the fact that women can manage to look as good as they do with water not being guaranteed, lights that are knocked out with power surges, unexpected product shortages, work, family, and life.
That’s what I call dedication and I’m not mad at it. It’s the dedication I hope to apply to my career goals and maybe even to some beauty tricks if I ever get around to them.