Travelling and Poking About

Get a Copacabana beach body

August 1, 2016


Many years ago I visited Brazil. More specifically, I hung out in Rio de Janeiro for a few days, in a very nice hotel right on Copacabana beach. I was quite young at the time –  21 – so, not the worldly wise figure of all knowing goodness you see before you today. LOL

Copacabana beach taught me some shit. I even went past Ipanema beach and much the same life lessons were happening over there. I don’t know what the mass cultural deception is in the UK, but in New Zealand there’s this idea that ALL Brazilians are hot. All of them. The men. The women. The children. Ok, maybe not the children unless you have some suspect thoughts squirelling around your mind. But everyone seems to think that all Brazilians are stereo-typically good looking and when you’re 21 the good looking-ness of people can seem overly important.

Rio is amazing. No, not because every one is actually conventionally “hot”. No, every lady in Rio does not meet the ridiculous and arbitrarily set Western beauty standards for women which currently stand at:

  • large (but not too large) round bottom
  • wide (but not too wide) hips, just enough to look “womenly” in a body con dress, not enough to look “fat” (whatever the fuck that is)
  • a very thin waist with no extra tummy fat flubbing over your belt
  • thin and sculpted physique but not so muscular as to be considered “manly”
  • very large, pert, rounded breasts. No tear drop shapes, no sag.
  • thin upper arms and long legs, thigh gap highly encouraged
  • beautiful and youthful face; big eyes, small nose, large lips, prominent cheekbones, long flowing, shiny hair and clear skin

I mean, that’s probably only the abbreviated version and still, what is all that bullshit? You can see how I was worried about standing near a beach with all these judgmental goddesses with perky ta-tas. Anyway, no matter what you hear, the women on the beach in Brazil don’t all look like that. They are diverse. The overwhelming sense I got from them was not one of stereotypical “hotness” but one of confidence. These ladies did not give a single fuck, the weather was hot and they were there to enjoy life. In a thong, dammit.



Funnily, they didn’t give a damn what I looked like either. This spoke to me in my youth. They were all shapes and sizes. There were large ladies with big bumps. There were skinny minnies with flat arses. There were ladies with cellulite and ladies with breast implants and ladies with full, natural, drooping breasts who had obviously spent some time breastfeeding and ladies with dark skin and fair skin and good hair and hair scraped back and no make up and yet still more ladies who were just doing whatever the fuck they liked and probably playing a bit of volleyball.

And that’s it. Again: they did not give a fuck. Even more amazing: no one cared. The world did not implode. Society did not spend the afternoon quietly sobbing in the gutter because some people had visible cellulite. Plastic surgeons didn’t chase me down the street with flyers advertising their services.

Since then, I’ve always maintained, that if you want to wear a G string bikini without any self conscious thought, go to Brazil. Go to Copacabana. I’ve never been a thong bikini kind of girl, but if I had to wear one, Rio would be the place I’d choose to debut my pasty bottom.

Friends have said the same. It doesn’t just extend to beach life. If you’re in the middle of beach volleyball and realise you need to go to the post office, do it in your g string. I saw people do this. No one cared.

If you finish up a beach session and realise you need some frozen veg for tea, just drop by the supermarket in your g string. Lean over and really explore the contents of the freezer drawer. Trust me, it’s fine.


Even the sand sculptures wore thongs


The whole atmosphere was one of fun and acceptance. It’s wonderful. I obviously didn’t interview every person, maybe there were some folks there feeling self conscious. But it felt like whatever shape, colour, or size you were, you could be comfortable. You wouldn’t be the only one who looks like you, the world is there and they’re letting it all hang out.

I went to Rio and learnt that the world doesn’t revolve around my pudgy upper arms and flubby love handles. The world just doesn’t care. I hope it’s still the same today. It was truly magical.

This blog is part of the travel link up – this month’s theme is “lessons learnt whilst travelling”.
You can join the link up by writing a post over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th July 2016) and add it to the link up widget found on Angie‘s, Jessi‘s, Emma’s or Nano’s blogs.


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  • I love the idea of a beach of acceptance, and the sand sculptures are pretty cool too!

    • So many cool sand sculptures along the beach 🙂

  • adales8


  • :))it’s all in our minds, people don’t really care that much about how other ppl look:) except fashion mags, and TV:)

    • I know right, most people just want to have a nice time without all the hassle 🙂

  • How wonderful that sounds! I remember reading once in a magazine something along the lines of being confident at the beach and how a woman in Brazil would not be constantly adjusting and therefore would look great at the beach since it would be confidence.

    • I think confidence and posture and just generally looking comfortable do way more for body image than wacky diets 🙂

  • Love this attitude!

  • LOVE IT. I saw that same kind of body acceptance in Havana, Cuba – men and women of all shapes and sizes wearing what some would call “ill-advised ensembles” and OWNING IT. Like your Brazilian experience it reminded me that the world isn’t going to implode if my cellulite sees the sight of day. Sadly that epiphany didn’t follow me back out of Cuba…I say this while contemplating if eating another slice of chocolate cake is enough to send me to fat camp… x

    10 Reasons Why You Should Visit – Split, Croatia Part 2 – Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • Eat the chocolate cake. You’re fabulous x

  • I was relieved to see that there were bodies of all shapes and sizes in Rio too!

    • It seems to be the general experience that everyone who goes there has. I wasn’t expecting that!

  • I really love this post! Such a fabulous lesson to learn at 21. If you feel good about yourself, you look good. End of story.

    • We waste so much energy caring what strangers think of our ankles, stomachs, upper arms etc. It just doesn’t matter in the end.:)

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    TOTALLY agree with this. I was amazed and actually really impressed at how freely so many people walk around with next to nothing on in Rio and the fact that those that do, as you say, come in all shapes and sizes. Sadly it did nothing for my own sense of body self-consciousness issues and you’ll never see me walk down a street in a bikini ever but you’re totally right about the fact that Rio is the place to take that plunge!!

    • Next time you’re in Rio, go with the thong 😉

  • Your description of western beauty standards reminds me SO much of this quote from Tina Fey (which always cracks me up):

    I’ve always wanted to go to Rio, too. I swear you’re the most well-travelled person I’ve ever met!
    Erin xxx

    • Haha, I used to be well travelled, but I haven’t been for a long time now 😉

  • Nice one! I agree, totally doesn’t matter what your body looks like, and the older I get the more comfortable I seem to get in my body! I’ve never been to Rio, but think I could totally get used to the Brazilian style swimwear too – minimal tanginess sound great to me!
    ps. that sand sculpture is so cool!

    • The sand sculptures were great! It’s funny, when you’re young and your body more closely resembles those ridiculous beauty standards you spend all your time worrying about it, but as you get older and drift away from them you realise they didn’t really matter in the first place 🙂

  • This is spot on! I thought exactly the same when I was in Rio, and it was so refreshing! We can all learn a little something from spending a few hours at Copacabana 🙂

  • This sounds so great. Hurrah for spaces and places where we can all just ‘be’!

    • With a side of beach volleyball, no less 😉

  • Amen! I need to get my booty to Copacabana baby!

  • WOOOHOO! Exactly that! Acceptance and body-awareness is something a lot of us struggle with, so it’s quite refreshing to hear that a place which seemingly set the standard of hotness is super accepting of all shapes and sizes! x

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

    • I was so surprised and so happy with the beach vibe there. Every one – rich, poor, beautiful, the not so conventionally beautiful, all hanging out in one place having a good time 🙂

  • Love this attitude!

    • It needs to come to more places around the world 🙂

  • Awesome – wish all beaches felt this accepting 😀 Thanks for linking up!

    • Yes, it’s what changes a good beach to a fantastic beach 😉

  • Steph

    This is awesome! Italians are like this too – they don’t care what they or you or anyone else looks like on the beach, they want to tan everything and no one is going to stand in their way! 🙂

    • Great! Would love to go to Italy and hang out with my thang out 😉

  • Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

    Amazing! I wish we could bring this spirit to uptight London. Although doing everything in a thong could get pretty cold pretty quickly…

    • It always amazes me to see people sunbathing in bikinis in the park! Not so many diverse body shapes doing that though

  • Dang. Brazil sounds like a self-love utopia. Might have to move there. Whenever I see a woman out in shorts with visible cellulite, or wearing a sleeveless top with squishy upper arms, I feel both jealous of her confidence and pathetic for being too self conscious to go out without covering those same parts of myself. Those women are heroes. All of them.

  • Planes & Champagne

    I would love to visit Rio one day. A lot of people in central and south america don’t care about western beauty standards per se. My family are Peruvian and they’re of all shapes and sizes and so comfortable and confident in themselves which is how I’ve been raised. I’m never going to be a size 8 or 10, I have little rolls and love handles and a latino bum but I love it and I’m proud 🙂