Be Less Crazy About Your Body, Carnaval Style

Well, hello, dear reader. I’m writing to you today from my hotel in São Paulo, Brazil, where I arrived Saturday after two stellar weeks in the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa. Yes, it has been a helluva trip, and I am fully aware that I am basically the luckiest bitch alive. (So are you, probably, if you think about it!)

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Saturday night was particularly amazing, because I got to experience the explosion of color and sound and energy that is Carnaval. It was a little surreal, because it’s Carnaval, and also because I’d just gotten off a 12-hour flight from South Africa. After a short nap, my confused body and I found ourselves here, in the middle of a full-on fiesta, at midnight.

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Before I got there, I have to admit that my ideas about Carnaval were pretty stereotypical. I expected to see lots of beautiful almost-naked women with amazing bodies, and I did …

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But I saw lots of other kinds of people, too! Old ladies doing hip rolls in neon spandex crop tops. Big hairy guys grinning and jumping up and down in crazy pink and green and gold outfits. Skinny girls with crooked teeth … thick girls with soft round bellies poking out of their bikinis … people of every color, size, and shape having a blast and getting down.

Sure, there were lots of conventionally sexy gals in tiny costumes with giant sparkly headdresses — it’s Carnaval! I’d expect nothing less! But what really got me, and brought tears to my eyes more than once, was the fact that, on that night at least, everyone was beautiful.

Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that it didn’t really matter who was hot and who was not. What mattered was the music and the color and the feeling in the air. What mattered was that we were all together, shaking what our parents gave us and loving life at 3 am on a steamy São Paulo night.

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Now, I understand that Brazil is not a body-image utopia. I know people here struggle with the same kinds of things that you and I struggle with. We all have days when we feel like Jabba the Hutt. We all board that train to Crazy Town at one point or another.

But what I’m feeling here — what I felt at Carnaval, and what I feel when I watch people walk down the street and when I see the variety of bodies in bikinis at the beach — is a decided lack of shame. We might not all be perfect, but by God we all have the right to feel the sun on our bellies and our bundas. We all have the right to enjoy our bodies and what they can do, and there is absolutely no reason to be ashamed. Not one.

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Our imperfect bodies can bring us mortification, or they can bring us pure undiluted joy. It’s up to us to decide … so let’s go for the good stuff, what do you say?