Argentineans are obsessed with their bodies. More so than even Americans. We gulp liquid "meal substitutes" and buy the latest diet bibles , but at a certain point we let it go. And as a nation we are still overweight.
In Argentina they take more drastic measures. Plastic surgery and starvation are national pastimes that cross gender, age and class boundaries. Since 1970, approximately one in every 30 Argentines has opted for cosmetic surgery, estimates Luis Majul, author of "The Masks of Argentina," a book about Argentines who have had their faces lifted and buttocks sculpted. Those who have gone under the knife include such luminaries as President Carlos Menem and soccer star Diego Maradona, but working-class people nip and tuck in large numbers as well. Public hospitals offer special summer deals on popular procedures like nose jobs and liposuction.
And ironically, in the land of beef and "papas fritas," eating disorders are rampant. Argentina has a higher incidence of anorexia and bulimia per capita than either the United States or Europe. I asked one young woman how the populace remained so thin in a land awash in rich foods. "Young women just don't eat," she said. "They smoke."
Relentlessly fashionable and notably haughty, Argentines have always considered themselves a cultural cut above the rest of South America, trumpeting their European ancestry and labeling their Latin neighbors boorish. Here, style is the ultimate virtue. Consider Eva Perón, who transformed herself from bumpkin to first lady with the help of a few Chanel suits and who today is remembered as much for her elegance as for her checkered political and social achievements.
How did a Latin American country thousands of miles away from Madison Avenue and Hollywood become so image obsessed? Some Argentines I spoke with blamed the nation's preoccupation with the body on the country's volatile political and economic climate. "Staying thin and looking beautiful is one thing that people have control over here," said Mauro, a 19-year-old engineering student, who sat chain-smoking at a Buenos Aires cafe. Others said that the Italian immigrants who settled in Argentina at the turn of the century simply brought with them a flair for fashion and an appreciation of beauty. And some Argentine feminists say that "machismo" is responsible for the epidemic, encouraging a climate where women are valued for how they look, not who they are.
Whatever the cause of the national obsession, its effects are clear. On the streets adolescent girls look malnourished, their hip bones jutting from beneath their jeans, their faces gaunt. Women walk the streets scantily clad — half-shirts, painted-on jeans and crotch-length skirts are the rage — flaunting their rib cages and synthetic bosoms.
Nope, actually it was rule number 41852 that says that single sentence remarks like "Why don't you go where you came from?" are not considered meaningful unless you at least elaborate on the subject. Nothing to do with political correctness."Elpanada" said:You and me both need to read the rules of this site a tiny bit better. Rule number 41851 clearly states that one is not allowed to express an opinion that is politically incorrect.