Brasil has become famous in recent years for its export boom, selling to the world everything from autos, to commuters, ships, and perfumes, shrimp and precious stones and more.
Brasil has become famous in recent years for its export boom, selling to the world everything from autos, to commuters, ships, and perfumes, shrimp and precious stones and more. But now the export spotlight has been taken over by the "tanga," tiny insignificant triangles of cloth that are called a bathing suit.
The Brasilian "tanga" has been baptized the "string look" abroad, and it has won admirers in Europe, throughout South America, the United States, Canada and Japan.
The tanga is just the most recent creation of the sensual suntanned girls off Rio de Janerio's famous Ipanema Beach. These were the same girls immortalized in the song, "The Girl from Imanema," by Tom Jobim, the highly successful Brasilian composer.
The tanga has become the craze of the northern hemispheres summertime fashion scene. Brasilians, however, are struck speechless to hear of women in the U.S. and Europe paying from $25 or $40 and even $70 for their tangas bought in fancy boutiques. All this for what amounts to an item about the size off a hand towel. In Rio botiques, the most expensive tanga may cost $15 to $18. But most of the girls simply make their tangas at home, quickly and easily, with no more than a couple of handkerchief-sized pieces of cloth, and some strings to link the ends and keep the thing from falling off.
The tanga consists of four triangles actually, two slightly larger ones covering the crotch, one front and one in back, then two smaller ones above to cover the breasts. As for sewing a tanga, "its just like making dolls' clothes," said one girl.
It seems hardly ever has so much bee written about so little which however is normal when the news media happen upon a sensational fashion item like this. As usual too, the stories about how the tanga came to be are varied. One thing seems established: the name "tanga" originated as the wolf for the "breechcloth" used by one brasilian Indian tribe. As for the tanga in its present form, many of Rio's top boutique owners have laid claim to the creationl. But more likely, the invention is said to have appeared about three years ago, the product of some of the livelier imaginations among local Ipanema sunbathers.
The girls were looking for something new and as risque as they could get without offending the somewhat puritanical censors of public morals. As it happens, Brasilian women are ultra-conscious about fashion and have a love off displaying jewelled adornments as well as physical attributes. The women of the Latin countries of Europe had one-upped their South American kin as the topless look swept through the French Riviera, and all legally.
In Rio, the official guardians of public decency strenuously prohibited early attempts at establishing the topless along Rio's Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. It was no go, no topless on these family beaches. To compensate. The Rio girls apparently created the tanga, to bare as much as they were allowed and maybe a little bit more.
Of course the tanga is not for all females. The style favors the tall, lithe, but still very shapely and well-endowed body. The tanga emphasizes long, finely-shaped legs and a well-formed derriere.
Among the more curious habits of the tanga-wearers concerns hair, or better, public hair and how to get rid of it. The ideal may be the pre-puberty age of hairlessness. But for the majority of girls aiming to be a la mode, any shadow of hair around the tanga's bottom front triangle is a definite problem and taboo. Some shave both public hair and leg hair or apply hair-dissolving creams. But most go the far more painful route of pulling offending hairs out by the root, either individually, by tweezers or ripping hairsout en masse with depilatory wax, which lasts about 7 weeks. Thus all serious tanga-wearers arrive pristinolly hairless and smooth-skinned at the beach, where the only apparent female hair appears on their heads. And as for the rest, hair remains an adornment of males and dogs.
Supposedly the newest depilatory fashion is dubbed the "Hitler look," in allusion to the shape of the Fuhrer's famous mustache. This story, along with a lot of others surrounding the tanga, remains unverified. It appears more the brainchild of an overimaginative reporter in search of sensational copy. First off Rio beauticians queried say they had not heard of any "Hitler look" and don't do public hair removal. The girls do this at home. Other conflicting sources claim the "Hitler look" is really a new tiny breechcloth-shaped tanga and nothing to do with depilation. But as long as the girls look good in it, who cases what it's called.