In Paraguay women do their nails. I’m not just talking about painting their nails one color and letting the paint chip away to the point where they have a “worn” look. I’m talking about periodic paintings, every time the paint gets messed up. I’m talking about elaborate flowers, dot patterns, hearts, and nails with as many as four colors making up the design. I’m not talking about thick layers that are gummy and painted on dirty nails. I’m talking about soaking and scrubbing, trimming and filing, and then painting thin layers using toothpicks or homemade fine nailbrushes to make crisp designs. I’m talking about girls who have briefcases of nail polish—all colors and levels of sparkle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a homemaker or a businesswoman, if you pick herbs or flit around on TV all day, if you’re a women it is not unusual to have immaculate nails.
Many Paraguayans have a course hair texture that is very adaptable to elaborate hairdos including braids, twists, and curls. When a party comes around, you’d be amazed by the hairstyles the average girl whips up—multiple braids, curlicues, and bows.
We can’t forget the makeup. Of course, like everywhere, every lady has her own style, but makeup in Paraguay tends to be bold. Bold as in bright colored eye shadow (usually 70s pink or blue), vibrantly red lips, full-face foundation coverage that lightens the skin, a healthy dose of blush, and dark eyeliner. If you are young and single these beauty elements are more pronounced.
I think documentaries, articles, and books about “third world” countries often give us pictures of dirty-faced women in ragged clothing struggling to feed their starving children. And sure, that happens (in the States too), but we would all be better served remembering that almost everyone is prideful and most people do what they can to look their best. Paraguayan women have a clearly defined and elaborate idea of what it means to “look your best” and it starts with dressing well and it’s topped off with nails, hair, and makeup.