Sometimes It Takes us to Witness Beauty from Other Cultures to Appreciate Our Own

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There’s nothing more beautiful, in my mind, than the beauty of other countries. There’s something so special about seeing history, traditions and the local environment of another place brought to life.

This week I am traveling in Brazil. My journey includes Sao Paulo, which I have visited a number of times before, and a smaller, more southern city called Porto Alegre.

Porto Alegre was my first destination. While there, I only spent a day and a half but I was fortunate enough to dine on local cuisine, drink locally brewed beer, meet new people and get a small feel of the local sights and beauty.

We took a walk around the neighborhood and saw the posh shopping district, family park and even women, men and children dancing. But this wasn’t any typical dance. It was a form of martial arts that black slaves practiced with music so their masters would assume they were dancing versus suspect them of getting ready for battle.

While in Moinhos de Vento Park, I also experienced a special tradition native to Porto Alegre called Chimarrão. Its a tea ritual made using a special green tea. It tastes a bit like matcha green tea with a kick. People sip it from metal straws out of special wooden cups made especially for this ritual. What is also super interesting is that this ritual dates back to the days of the indigenous people of area, most of whom were wiped out by the Portuguese colonists. Why this ritual survived is a mystery. Perhaps it’s an attempt by the Brazilian population to pay homage to a group of people that they know were terribly wronged centuries ago.

I walked by old, ornate, relatively tall apartment buildings designed by rich families during the era of the major tuberculous outbreaks. People of the town believed you were immune from the disease if you lived high above the street. So rich families built tall buildings and resided on the top floors.

Though I mostly travel for business, I try to get a taste, feel and view of the local beauty, as I have in Porto Alegre. I do this to not only learn about the history and culture of the region, but to reconnect with physical beauty in general. Unfortunately, and I know I’m not alone in this, I take for granted the physical beauty that surrounds me on an everyday basis. I ignore it and go into my “zone.” But we all need to reconnect with this type of beauty.  We are hardwired to WANT to connect with it.

Not all of us can travel often, but we can still reconnect with the local physical beauty that we often overlook. We just have to open our eyes.

Some pics from my travels:

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Local beers…yum

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IMG_20150308_180050Me drinking the traditional tea Chimarrão

Weekend Observations: Can a city have "inner beauty?"

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I know, I know, I’ve been bad and barely contributed ANYTHING to Beautyskew in a while.  But I have a good excuse.  I flew down to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a whirlwind trip of speeches, meetings and tons of fun 🙂  I literally had so little time to do anything given how busy, tired, and stuck in traffic I was.  But I loved every second of it (well, except the major rain and traffic on the way to the airport).
Given how soon the World Cup and the Olympics are going to happen in Brazil, the conversations with my Brazilian friends often included the lack of infrastructure and all the major and city-marring building that is currently happening to compensate for it.  We discussed the differences among different parts of Brazil, especially Rio vs Sao Paulo.  Sao Paulo is like the NYC of Brazil: it’s the business capital; extremely populated; and full of the most educated and affluent people in the country.  But, unlike Rio, it’s not beautiful. I can see their point.  Sao Paulo  a large city with a series of different neighborhoods.  Most of the buildings are stucco high rises surrounded by concrete.  But baked into these neighborhoods are nice streets, grand homes and architectural beauties, e.g., Praça da SéMuseu de Arte de Sao Paulo and Instituto de Arte Contemporânea.
Despite all the obvious go-to-sites of Sao Paulo, there’s something beautiful to me about the everyday landscape.  Perhaps because I’ve spent so much time in Tel Aviv, a place that shares some of the same “look,” I feel a strong connection to Sao Paulo. But more than that, I believe the beauty of the city is a form of “inner beauty.”  I really feel a kinship to so many of the Brazilians I have met.  As a culture, Brazilians are warm, inviting and passionate.   For example, you kiss someone when you first meet them.  No shaking hands.  This sense of warmth and friendship pervades the streets, buildings and parks of Sao Paulo.  This vibe adds a layer of brightness, and a feeling of excitement and joy to the city.  If this doesn’t add up to beauty, I don’t know what does.
Go visit Sao Paulo, I highly recommend it!

Weekend Observations: Can a city have “inner beauty?”

1386238024961

I know, I know, I’ve been bad and barely contributed ANYTHING to Beautyskew in a while.  But I have a good excuse.  I flew down to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a whirlwind trip of speeches, meetings and tons of fun 🙂  I literally had so little time to do anything given how busy, tired, and stuck in traffic I was.  But I loved every second of it (well, except the major rain and traffic on the way to the airport).

Given how soon the World Cup and the Olympics are going to happen in Brazil, the conversations with my Brazilian friends often included the lack of infrastructure and all the major and city-marring building that is currently happening to compensate for it.  We discussed the differences among different parts of Brazil, especially Rio vs Sao Paulo.  Sao Paulo is like the NYC of Brazil: it’s the business capital; extremely populated; and full of the most educated and affluent people in the country.  But, unlike Rio, it’s not beautiful. I can see their point.  Sao Paulo  a large city with a series of different neighborhoods.  Most of the buildings are stucco high rises surrounded by concrete.  But baked into these neighborhoods are nice streets, grand homes and architectural beauties, e.g., Praça da SéMuseu de Arte de Sao Paulo and Instituto de Arte Contemporânea.

Despite all the obvious go-to-sites of Sao Paulo, there’s something beautiful to me about the everyday landscape.  Perhaps because I’ve spent so much time in Tel Aviv, a place that shares some of the same “look,” I feel a strong connection to Sao Paulo. But more than that, I believe the beauty of the city is a form of “inner beauty.”  I really feel a kinship to so many of the Brazilians I have met.  As a culture, Brazilians are warm, inviting and passionate.   For example, you kiss someone when you first meet them.  No shaking hands.  This sense of warmth and friendship pervades the streets, buildings and parks of Sao Paulo.  This vibe adds a layer of brightness, and a feeling of excitement and joy to the city.  If this doesn’t add up to beauty, I don’t know what does.

Go visit Sao Paulo, I highly recommend it!

Week in Review: 5/12-5/18

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@Beautyskew was in full force this week:
While I haven’t gone through a total on-camera transformation, I started using a few tricks Weekend Observations: Applying the Lessons
An honest, raw perspective on modeling from a model/TED speaker Behind the Image: An Honest & Bright Model’s Story
From aging beauty contests to a history of beauty in Japan More to Love: Additions to the Reading List
I wish you all a happy weekend and to my brother, Jonny, a happy birthday!

Weekend Observations: My Week of Beauty in Brazil

I just got off the red eye from Sao Paulo this morning, and boy, did I have a blast.  My week in Brazil was full of hard work, long nights, great food, wonderful scenery and, of course, beauty.  The pic above is me getting a manicure.  I couldn’t bear my half-painted, broken nails any longer; and felt really out of place given how manicured ALL women’s nails were.   I swear, not one woman I met had naked nails.    Which probably explains why the manicure felt more like surgery than pampering.  They take this stuff SERIOUSLY.

Given all I’ve heard and read about the pressure to be beautiful in Brazil (it’s the plastic surgery capital of the world after all), I expected tall, thin, amazingly beautiful glamazons everywhere I turned.

But what I saw was different.  Like everywhere, there are gorgeous folks and the plain Janes.  But what was different was that many more women –from your business women to grandmothers –put an effort into their beauty (wearing make-up, nice outfits and pretty hair) during the week and weekend.

AND, the general body type was not so much rail thin than curvy.  I’m not saying the women were overweight (as we know, “curvy” is often used to describe women who have quite a bit of extra flesh on them) but they were definitely plumper than the typical New York or L.A. fashionista.  As you can imagine, that made me VERY happy…I blended right in!

I’m so looking forward to returning to Brazil.  But next time around, I’m going to stop off in Rio and share some major pics 😉

Weekend Observations: In Brazil Baby!

Just arrived in Brazil.  I haven’t had enough time to document any substantial observations yet.  I was expecting see many Gisele-s, but so far, I’ve seen the typical range of types, just as we would see everywhere else in the world — some gorgeous and some, well, not so much.  Looking forward to documenting the trip and showing what I find!
Enjoy the end of your weekend 😉

Week in Review: 10/28-11/3

Sandy wreaked havoc this week in NYC but thankfully we’re all safe and Beautyskew stayed on 🙂  Here’s what we shared:

Why do I have a pavlovian response to high heels?  Can I change it? Weekend Observations: Will this Addiction Ever Cease?

Take a look at the wild, crazy, ALIVE hair on the heads of young female Disney characters … finally they look like the active girls we’re trying to raise! Disney Hairstyles Are Finally Changing to Keep Up With Feminism

More juicy beauty-in-culture reading More to Love: Additions to The Reading List

To all of you New Yorkers/New Jersey-ites/Connecticut friends, we hope you get back to normal soon.

Week in Review: 4/8-4/14

What we had to get off our chests this week…

How a NYC subway ride changed my outlook forever, and I got a cool pic out of it too! Weekend Observations: Never, Ever Judge a Book By Its Cover

When a global community fights for acceptance of all kinds of beauty Pic of the Week: The Beauty of Democracy

Oh please, we all photo shop…is that so bad?  Stop Skewering Photo Shopping Already!

Ah, some more juicy beauty reading!  Take a look at what we curated More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Enjoy the end of Passover for those of you who have been eating matzah all week!