Locals Discuss Miami's Beauty Culture
DA: Yes. And flying is so dehydrating.
DS: I look terrible for a full day after I fly anywhere.
ER: Do you ever see what happens to a bag of potato chips on an airplane? Everything expands. The same thing is happening to you and your cells.
While we’re on the subject of traveling, do you think there are particular pressures to look good here in Miami, versus standards in other cities?
ER: I always say that the farther north I go, the better I look. By the time I get to Maine, I’m so hot you can barely stand it! I come back here and, well, not so much.
RF: We don’t have a winter here—we’re always exposing our skin. You go to other cities and everyone is covered; they don’t care as much about how they look. But here, you have to. It’s part of the deal.
DS: We’re always naked!
ER: [People] come here because they appreciate beauty and want to be beautiful.
DS: And I think that the people who come here, even if they aren’t beautiful when they get here, they get better-looking somehow. Anyway, in this—the age of Groupon!—every woman can afford to be beautiful and get her hair and nails done. There’s no excuse anymore.
BB: That’s one of the good things about Miami: You learn a lot from the Latinas! When I arrived from Germany, I didn’t wear nail polish and my eyebrows were crazy. And these women will tell you the minute you arrive: “No, mama.” They really educated me on how to take care of my body. It’s interesting, now that I’ve lived here for so long, I can see that it’s a total culture thing.
RF: But some women here tend to overdo it. They over-groom themselves. I grew up watching my mother who is Venezuelan, always doing her hair, her makeup, her clothes. Everything was like a ceremony.
DA: And when it’s a hassle, then it is no longer a celebration.
BB: But putting yourself together beautifully is sort of a celebration. I just love Latin women, I have to say. I enjoy watching them get ready.
DA: I’m sorry, but we guys find “natural” much more attractive than women make it out to be.
BB: I’ve heard that.
RF: But then, do girls get ready and look good for men or for other women?
BJ: I would say more for girls.
BB: I think for themselves. I think I do my hair for myself: It’s really something that I want to control, and I can’t. It’s about control!
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of beauty?
BB: When I was 13, I dyed my hair blonde. For the next five years, I had a ’fro! It was really not cool.
RF: The stupidest thing I’ve done is not read instructions. At Fashion Week in New York, I got a sample of some kind of cream, which I assumed was moisturizer. I rubbed it all over my face, and it turned out to be bleach cream. I had to go to a dermatologist to fix it.
ER: Girls would never do that. We always read the product instructions.
DS: The one thing I hate in this world is feet. I hate pictures of feet, I hate looking at feet and I can’t touch feet. I use SkinMedica’s TNS Recovery Complex, which smells like feet, but it really works. It smells like really bad feet—like walked-all-day feet.
We definitely do a lot in the name of beauty! I’m not going to ask everyone who has had what done, but it’s true that plastic surgery is a big thing here in Miami—maybe everywhere.
ER: It’s more prevalent on the coasts—in New York, LA and Miami especially.
BB: Getting your breasts done is everywhere, but I’ve really only seen anyone get buttocks jobs here in Miami.
RF: I’m from Venezuela, where everybody has something done. It’s a beauty-pageant culture, and we actually tell people to do it. We encourage it, almost. “Your nose is too big, you should fix it. You’re fat, you need to lose weight.”
DA: When I lived in LA, there seemed to be a trend of men getting calf implants, which really freaked me out. To me, that sounded horrible.
Here in Miami, just about anything goes!
ER: It’s definitely a melting pot.
BB: I think Miami is such a good place. It’s like an open fire here—the city really embraces you. There are no rules, which sometimes is really hard, but it’s also great to have the opportunity to learn from other people and cultures, like we talked about. All those traditions, all the ways of communicating and even all the secrets.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GREG CLARK