If anything ever happens to me, I know right where Ryan is headed: on a plane headed south to Argentina. It’s not the succulent beef, beautiful landscapes or world-class wines he’d be after. No, no. He’d be taking up residence in Buenos Aires, the city of “fair winds,” in pursuit of one thing alone: the women.
What can I say? Ever-fashionable and image-obsessed, the beauty of the Argentine women is hard to top. With their long dark hair, olive skin and tall, slender figures, they have an exotic appeal only rivaled by their ardent commitment to fashion. In a land known for mouthwatering steaks, ice cream and papas fritas, it might be hard to believe staying on top of the latest trends is a national obsession. But for Argentine women fashion is not trite; it’s absolutely imperative. When it comes to their style, think chic bohemian meets urban hipster with a sophisticated twist. Add an unmatched Latin energy and a sassy flare and well, you have one attractive pedigree.
In a place where fashion is virtue, a mere trip to the grocery store is reminiscent of the catwalk at a Calvin Klein runway show. As a budget traveler, I don’t have the luxury to carry, or better yet do I even own, any of the couture fashion pieces these women sport for a simple stroll in the park or an afternoon pick-me-up at a corner café. So dreadful is the juxtaposition of the stylish Argentine women against my around the world travel style clad in my khaki hiking pants and flip flops that my husband has endearingly decided to call me “G.I. Jane.” For those of you who don’t know how appealing this nickname is, please take the time to rent the 90’s action flick starring Demi Moore as a sweaty, masculine, American soldier.
The beauty of the Argentine women, however, doesn’t come at a small price. Eating disorders are rampant and don’t discriminate against gender, race or class. In Argentina one in every ten women suffers from an eating disorder, more than three times the amount of cases found in the U.S. The country actually has one of the highest rates of eating disorders in world, second only to Japan. To add to the problem, until just a few years ago most stores carried “one size fits all” clothes until this was legally outlawed with a law recently passed requiring stores to carry a variety of sizes.
Whatever the means and at whatever cost, Argentine women are willing to go to extremes to be thin. It’s not uncommon to find women as young as 20 or 30 years old opting for a little nip and tuck every year. So bad has the problem gotten that even the government is now capitalizing on this. Various social security plans are incentivizing cosmetic surgeries by encouraging people to pay higher premiums in exchange for one free surgery procedure a year. Some hospitals now even offer summer deals on surgeries like nose jobs and liposuction to entice clients.
Much of my evidence is anecdotal, I admit, however, take it from “G.I. Jane”: No where will you find better specimens of femininity than Argentina or women more obsessed with the way they look.