The Clothes Paradox

You would think that red mud everywhere, 100 plus degree-days, hand washing all clothes, no clothes dryers, and crappy (or no) showers would be an acceptable excuse to be mildly dirty and slightly unkempt. Wrong.

I’ve never felt more pressure to make sure my clothes are without wrinkles or to wear accessories and high heels as I do in Paraguay. And that’s saying something because I worked in PR in Washington, DC before coming to Paraguay.

Paraguayans scrub their sneakers weekly. Women wear bows in their hair on the daily. After watching an almost two-hour soccer game in the blazing sun, I’m sweating like a river and have serious sweat stains while my Paraguayan friends still look fresh in their neon t-shirts and tank tops and their flesh-crushing, tight jeans. When I walk from my house to the school, I get mud on my shoes and/or feet. But, my students always have shiny-clean sneakers. How they manage to avoid the mud is something I’ll never know.

I struggle walking from my house to the church in my flip-flops because of the sand and the rocks while my Paraguayan friends walk delicately in their three-inch wedges.

I don’t care how much deodorant I put on, at some point the heat makes me smell lightly stale. I’ll let you know when I find a Paraguayan with BO.

It’s a paradox. It’s almost as though because it’s so easy to be clean in the States we don’t judge people if they decide to dress like the stereotypical hippie. As long as people don’t smell, usually American’s couldn’t care less what someone wears to a baseball game. Well, Paraguay is different. Watch out what you wear, people notice.