As a child, I experienced the dichotomy of life in different cultures. I learned the dissimilar mindsets, at polar ends of the spectrum from one another. This was especially true in regards to the perception of a woman’s body. One side held a conservative view. Their intent was to preserve the beauty of a woman in her purest and most modest form. The other side was liberal, giving women the freedom to express themselves as they wished. Being fortunate enough to live in both worlds, I can appreciate and understand each culture’s mentality. However, the transition from a conservative to liberal life at a young age was jarring. I remember feeling naked and shameful the first time I wore a swimsuit at a community pool. I had never bared my limbs in public before. Even though the feeling of immorality and indecency lessened as I got older, wearing revealing clothes in my twenties was daunting. Despite living in a tolerant environment, I sensed there was a negative connotation associated with dressing too seductively. Even though I could display more of myself, there were limitations to how much I could unveil. Socially, I would be labeled and judged based on my attire. I realized that living in the free world did not fully abate my shame. I continued to struggle with body image and was not confident in my womanhood.
I became fascinated by samba dancers, passistas, because they were incredibly self-assured in bare-minimum costumes that scarcely covered them. Rather than hide their body, the passistas proudly flaunted their exceptional physique. They utilized their near nude bodies naturally in the art of dance. It was through them that I learned that a woman’s shape is beautiful. I was finally able to celebrate rather than conceal myself through the raw dance of samba.
Image: Uillana Adães – Queen of Rio de Janeiro Carnival 2017