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The itsy-bitsy tanga and ‘fio dental’ succumbing to bikinis and ‘gordinhas’

Tuesday, January 31st 2012 - 05:17 UTC
Full article 9 comments
Bigger women are just like everybody Bigger women are just like everybody

The Girl from Ipanema has put on a few kilos and for many sun basking in Brazil’s beaches the country’s iconic itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny tanga just doesn’t suffice anymore.

A growing number of bikini manufacturers have woken up to Brazil’s thickening waistline and are reaching out to the ever-expanding ranks of heavy women with new plus-size lines.

That’s nothing short of a revolution in this most body-conscious of nations, where overweight ladies long had little choice but to hit the beach in comely ensembles of oversized T-shirts and biker shorts.

“Finally, it seems like people are beginning to realize that we’re not all Gisele,” said the 38-year-old mother of four, referring to willowy Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Clothing designer Clarice Rebelatto said her own swimwear-hunting travails prompted her to found Lehona, an exclusively plus-size beachwear line.

“Honestly, the problem went way beyond just bikinis. In Brazil, it used to be that if you were even a little chunky, finding any kind of clothes in the right size was a real problem” said Rebelatto, herself a size 10.

“And I thought, 'I'm actually not even that big compared to a lot of women out there, so if I have problems, what are they doing?”

Since its launch in 2010, the line has become a hit. In brash leopard spots and flower prints not meant for wallflowers, the label’s 14 bikini styles aren’t what you’d normally associate with plus-size swimsuits.

The necklines plunge dramatically. Straps are mere strings. And while the bottoms provide too much coverage to qualify for the famed “fio dental” or “dental floss” category of Brazilian string bikinis, they’re significantly more audacious than the standard US cut.

“We’re working from the principle that bigger women are just like everyone else: They don’t want to look like old ladies, wearing these very modest, very covering swimsuits in just black,” said Luiz Rebelatto, Clarice’s son and director of Lehona.

He said that recent publicity of the brand and several other new swimwear lines catering to plus sizes has triggered an overwhelming number of calls and emails from would-be customers.

Lehona is currently sold exclusively at big and tall specialty stores throughout Brazil. Its bikinis retail for about 130 Reais or 70 US dollars, a relatively high price-point here, but Rebelatto said sales have grown at a galloping pace, though he did not provide any figures.

It’s the same story at Acqua Rosa, a conventional swimwear label that added a plus-size line in 2008.

Now, plus-size purchases account for more than 70% of the brand’s total sales, said director Joao Macedo.

A 2010 study by the statistics institute showed that 48% of adult women and 50% of men are now overweight. In 1985 those figures were 29% for women and 18% for men.

A 2008 study showed that barely 10% of Brazilian teens and adults exercise regularly. Still, despite their growing numbers, not everyone is eager to embrace ‘‘gordinhas’’ - or ‘‘little fatties’’, as chunky women are affectionately known here.

Likewise extra-wide bucket seats for the obese have been installed in Sao Paulo’s metro system, and the city will host Brazil’s first ever Miss Plus Size beauty contest.

Categories: Brazil, Entertainment.

Top Comments

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  • DanMoura

    Brazilian women have a bad reputation worldwide. So, in my humble opinion, its better to be remembered as little fatter as whores.

    Jan 31st, 2012 - 10:06 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    You have no 'humble opinion' - you are just offensive.

    In spite of the previous comment, in the North East at least, the more generous breasts (augmented or otherwise) and ample bundas will not result in greater cover-up. Women on the beach do not just wear these skimpinesses to attract men, they like them in their own terms.

    I see no pressure from Government, from the catholics, the evangelicals or the candomble/macumba priesthood. Brasil is not Iran.

    Jan 31st, 2012 - 11:21 am 0
  • Fido Dido

    “Brazilian women have a bad reputation worldwide. So, in my humble opinion, its better to be remembered as little fatter as whores. ”

    Only uneducated/people who aren't capable of thinking for themself or Brazilians with a low self esteem of their own culture/people think/say/type comments like that. Those people have a problem with themself.

    Jan 31st, 2012 - 03:54 pm 0
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