She Works Hard for Her Money.

By 15:17 , , ,


The other day, I left a status on my Facebook saying I loved my new pink nails and that I loved being able to leave work in the middle of the afternoon to get them done even more :-) 


Perfectly legitimate Facebook shareable news, don't you think?  

So a friend of mine comments on it - sarcastically and I know she didn't mean anything offensive by it (so please don't think this is an attack at all!) and says, "Welcome to Brazil, where even the people living in favelas have manicures. And a maid!" - this friend of mine is American but has visited Brazil and many other countries. 

Then another friend of mine comments under that saying, "You right, Brasil has the good life." This one is Brazilian and has lived in the US for a while now.  

And I looked at these two comments and was a bit offended.  I knew they weren't being serious and trying to offend Brazilians at all.  But at the same time, I was mad at myself because that is the image I had of Brazil before moving here myself.  I would always think about how my cousins here would get their nails done every weekend, some of my aunts who were a little better off had maids or cleaning ladies who would go to their homes a few times a week, and always seemed to be wearing tons of cute new clothes..." 

Meanwhile, there I was in the "first world," sans manicures and all about do-it-yourself manis, my mother was the one cleaning other peoples' homes, and clothes... well, I'm not your usual girl - I'm kind of cheap when it comes to that... but still, despite the cheapness of clothes in the US compared to Brazil, I never really spent that much on clothing. 

But here I am in Brazil, for a little over a year and a half now, and it's as if I see certain things in a new light now.  First of all, I think it's safe to say my perception of "Brazil" is different from my friends' because they have lived in smaller towns here and visiting doesn't count when it comes to spending money.  I say this because São Paulo is a much more expensive city than most if not all in the country.  I tell my cousins in Minas that I pay R$21 for a mani and pedi (on sale days at the salon!) and they tell me I'm crazy because they pay R$10!  What I pay for my part of the rent in my apartment is what my parents rent their 3 bedroom apartment in a great neighborhood in our hometown in Minas out - total.  And what I pay for a caipirinha here in SP when I go out is double what you would pay in any small town almost anywhere else. 

So where am I trying to get at this?  Well, what I responded to the girls on Facebook: a. that I work hard for my mani (which, btw, I hadn't gotten for over a month) and b. for the most part, we have different values in Brazil.

Yeah, I go out much more here than I did in the US to restaurants, clubs, and plays.  Yes, I have a cleaning lady who comes in to clean our apartment and also iron our clothes.  Yes, I make probably 1/4 of what you in the US reading this makes.  

But I also spend much less with things like phones, clothes, public transportation & food (since they're technically work benefits here), going out in general because I CAN and because society here doesn't expect me to be wearing brand name clothes, carrying a R$1.000 phone and driving a baller car to show off my socio-economic status or lack thereof; my expenses are a little over a third of my salary; and I have money left over at the end of the month to put away for vacations and emergencies.   

I think I'm probably one of the few Brazilians who is able to or even wants to save - since Brazilians aren't the best at saving.  And Americans, despite being heavy consumers, usually make enough money to save and have a culture of saving for things like education and vacation, in general.  This is why Brazilians who to go the US need to buy things once they start making dollars.  And this is also why Americans can't understand why Brazilians spend on "frivolous" things like beauty salons and hired help when you can put that money away in a college or vacation fund.  

I've found a happy medium.  I don't know what I want to go back to school for yet, but I do want to travel.  So in the meantime, I'm staying away from shopping malls and putting some money away for a vacation.  On the other hand, I'm not giving up coming home to a clean home every week or looking at my pretty nails at the office since hand-eye coordination isn't my forté.  

Oh yeah, and besides my 45 hour work week, I teach private English classes and write for a SP website.  So not for anything ladies, but... I don't see why I wouldn't deserve my hot pink nails. 

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