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A Colossal Social Gap

Tania Menai

If your hair looks good, why worry about the dozen of street children you spotted on the way to the hairdresser? Those four-year-old babies in front of the church asked you for some change. Another group of infants tried to sell you candies at the stop-sign. Some others, lodged in front of that fancy mall, begged you for anything to devour. But, darling, you look fabulous – it is unnecessary to look around. Staring at the mirror is sufficient. You are Brazilian and this is the mirror your elite stares at everyday.

To many, the attitude sounds surreal. Nevertheless, this conduct reflects the colossal social gap between the have and have-nots. The frivolity is spread all over the country – possessing an attractive figure seems to be the sole endeavor. Brazil has 35 million illiterate inhabitants. The slums grow at an unprecedented pace both in and around the big cities. The majority of children have never seen a toy - not to mention Santa Claus.

Still, all you see in the mass media and magazine covers are articles about the new diet, the latest Botox technology and the plastic surgeons able to transform a 70 year-old woman into a 20-year-old babe. Most likely, the disregard from the media and from the rich towards the poor might hurt the deprived population more than the ceaseless hunger. Yet, their suffering is not the main point on the society’s agenda.

Brazil stretches itself through an infinite Atlantic coast dotted by stunning beaches. It hosts a globally known Carnival and is blessed by a weather that never goes bellow 70 Fahrenheit. Since God had created a country like no other (I do not know why Americans still insist on going to Costa Rica, but this is another essay), it is mandatory that its population fit the landscape. This is the agenda.

There is no problem in being attractive and healthy. However, the trouble starts when a simple idea becomes an obsession. While this beautiful country still struggles against its cruel economy and a lack of education, Ivo Pintanguy, the worldwide known Brazilin plastic-surgeon, struggles to find a free hour in his calendar. The owner of an entire island near Rio de Janeiro, he once highlighted that “possessing a vivid brain is always better than having a perfect derriere.” Nevertheless, he is lucky that his clients – many of them, men – are unaware of his statement. Probably, because it was published in a magazine they ignore to read. In any case, one is still unable to exercise the brain at the gym – had people this ability, Brazil would be home to millions of Nobel Prize winners.
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[ copyright © 2005 by Tania Menai ]