Cubans are always catwalk ready
Cuban beauty is something that can’t be fully appreciated until you visit the country itself. As soon as you get off your plane and make your way through immigration you will be met by bored-looking female security and customs officers, all immaculately turned-out in fish-net tights, mini-skirts and heels. They, in a way, are the perfect introduction to the first rule of Cuban beauty: no matter where you are or what your job is, you should look like you’re on a short break from shooting a music video with Pitbull.
Hallmark of masculinity
It’s not just women who like to look good, men are (almost) just as concerned with their appearance as their female counterparts. For men, beauty is in the nostrils of the beholder, and no Cuban man would dare leave the house without first bathing, rolling or dousing himself in cologne. No matter how oppressively hot Havana gets, it’s very unlikely that you will find anyone emitting an unpleasant odour, least of all a self-respecting man. The younger generation of men mercilessly rid their bodies of hair, leaving themselves smooth as an olympic swimming team. Rather than being a hallmark of masculinity, body hair is considered at best a nuisance and at worst a turn-off. Eye brows are plucked, faces are clean-shaven and hair is styled in the latest Havana fashions, as dictated by your local barber.
Age is just a number
When it comes to looking good in Cuba, age is just a number. It’s no matter whether you’re 26 or 66, you’ve a right to look beautiful! Grandmothers and even great-grandmothers won’t be caught cowering inside floaty tunics; they’re more likely to be found sauntering through central Havana in bright leggings and an eye-catching t-shirt spelling “SEXY” in sparkly lettering. Grandfathers and great-grandfathers delight in the opportunity to leave their years of gym-bunnying behind and let their beer-bellies blossom. Mature Cuban men see no reason to apologise for their paunches, on the contrary, they get them out whenever possible and celebrate them as a testament to their appetite for life.
No one’s afraid of remarking on beauty
One thing you’ll notice in Cuba is that no one’s afraid of remarking on beauty when they see it. All you need to do is sit on a street corner with a few men and watch as they distribute compliments to passing women and girls. A young girl in her first bloom of youth walking by will most likely be greeted with “que preciosa!” (“how lovely!”) a recognition of her uncertain yet innate beauty. A little girl hand-in-hand with her daddy will be told “que cosa más linda!” (“what a gorgeous little thing”) and a middle-aged woman with rounded buttocks will be told “Mami a donde tu vas que yo voy contigo!” (“where are you off to sweetie, ‘cos I’m coming too”). Men are usually the ones complimenting women in this public way, but women also make their appreciation of surrounding beauty known through rhapsodic praise of children, approving glances at elegant young women, and barely concealed growls as they watch a real “mangon” (heart throb) stroll by.
Along with many other things in Cuba, beauty is for everyone.