I want to write about this because I think that at home (Australia) we have some wrong ideas about 'Brazilians' and I think this way of thinking probably also applies elsewhere. A Brazilian friend told me that she hates it when she travels abroad and is asked where she's from by a man. She says that when she replies 'Brazil' the man looks her up and down like he knows what she's like underneath.
In Australia (maybe elsewhere too?) the term 'to have a Brazilian' means to have the hair removed from your pubic areas, ie, from your private bits. Yet, although I didn't survey the Brazilian population on the subject, I reckon I saw enough hairy legs to make me believe that perhaps the practise is unfairly named.
In Australia, many also believe that the Brazilians wear almost nothing on the beach. But, we didn't see any topless women (leave that for the Europeans, there's plenty there, and now that we are in French Guiana, technically part of France, there's a topless beach apparently just up the road from where I sit writing this). Brazilian bikinis were small but not G-strings (thongs for the non-Australian English speakers); the only time we saw bikini bottoms up bums was on a few Argentine women on a snorkelling tour.
Oh, and as for wearing a dress that really puts your assets on display? We went to a party where the hostess was wearing a tight dress with see-through panels which proudly showed off her silicon breasts. She was Argentine too.
So what do I think it means to to be Brazilian?
To me it seems that Brazilian women are confident with their bodies. Whether they are tall, short, fat, skinny, curvy, or straight they aren't ashamed. They aren't hiding their bodies away. They also aren't running off to the gym or embarking on major fitness regimes to change what they are. No, they just accept it, and well, to me they seemed confident. They wore tight clothes no matter what their figure was like. For me, at a time when I've been gaining a bit of weight, Brazil has been a wonderful place to be.
Of course, this is all just my opinion. Also, in our 4.5 months we didn't spend much time in Brazilian cities and things might be quite different in the cities.