Monday, August 06, 2007

One of These Things Is Like The Other

At first glance, the only commonality between these two things is the bright colors. And yet, in one way, they are profoundly alike.

Brazil has the highest per capita rate of plastic surgeons in the world. Considering that the majority of the population lives on under $300 a month, the small upper and middle classes are going under the knife to look better at an astounding rate. A recent Miss Brazil talked openly about her four major and 19 minor procedures. Unlike the US, where cosmetic surgery is considered private, people remain in seclusion until the bruising is over, and the ideal is for people to know you look better but not know why, Brazilians go out and about their business with bandages and bruises. Because wealth follows race closely in Brazil, it is not uncommon for transgendered individuals of African descent to have nose jobs to create a "whiter" nose. A six foot tall woman may have a delicate, tiny nose that is obviously not natural. A thing that would be avoided by most Americans.

And why do they do this? Because the bandages and the obviously surgical features show that you can afford plastic surgery.

And how is that like a Jello salad at a potluck?

Ah, well because we started taking Jello salads to church potlucks in the days when refrigeration was a luxury. If you could bring a Jello salad, for all that the dish itself is relatively cheap, it proved that you could afford a refrigerator.*

In order to accommodate this need to display one's prosperity, hundreds of Jello salads were created and fancy molds were made.

The more things are different, the more they are alike. And what an amazing world we live in.

* An ice box is cold enough to prevent spoilage but not so much to set Jello.


kenju said...

Isn't it funny how we find ways to let others know what our situation in life is - and to what lengths we will go to preserve that image, when it no longer applies.

Kay Dennison said...

Nobody does surgery on this old gal's body unless there's no other alternative. I'm used to my face and everyone else can get used to it, too!

Tabor said...

So THAT is why we used to eat jello. It seems to have disappeared along with many other dishes. My guest ordered chipped beef on toast for breakfast at the restaurant the other day...that brought back memories.

joared said...

Jello was a special dessert when I was growing. Mostly I remember my Mom making it because it was quick and easy, would give the canned fruit cocktail she often put in it a longer life, and I thought it was a luxury dessert when I was little. Everybody had a refrigerator and iceboxes were a thing of the past by then. Can well imagine in earlier years it could have been a status thing.