Irina Pino

Foto: Elio Delgado Valdes
Foto: Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — How does one stay in shape? How does one manage to look good after forty in Cuba?

There are thousands of possible answers to these questions. A friend of mine agrees with me that a woman’s beauty ought to come from within. Does she mean the soul? That would be a good response.

Youth is a state of physical plenitude and has no need of cosmetics. As women age, they begin to require a certain dignity that experience alone cannot afford them. What is experience, after all? It is the succession of the mistakes we make in life. And one never learns – there is simply not enough time to do so.

It is understandable that one should want to be at peace with oneself, to aim at professional advancement, and other forms of realizing oneself are also valid. What we perceive on a daily basis, however, is that most men prefer younger women. They look at them and desire them, and spare no effort to go after them. The others, the ones that have withered, the ones who can no longer boast of their physical charms, are treated differently: they are the leftovers that are thrown into the garbage. They are simply scorned.

Exercise of course helps, but gyms are truly expensive, let alone sophisticated equipment to exercise at home.

One has no choice but to go out running, walking or swimming. The island’s reality nonetheless pressures women to do other things. Dying one’s hair costs 4 or more CUC. The cheapest haircut costs 1 CUC, and a regular massage 2 CUC. (1 CUC = 1.10 USD)

One really has to work miracles to be able to dress well. A low-cut blouse costs more than 10 CUC, to say nothing of shoes. When you buy these at the store, they’ve often been lying in a warehouse for years and break in no time. I had a pair that I would put on for special occasions. One day, when I took them out of the closet, they literally fell apart in my hands.

Used clothing is not an option. The garments are usually out of style and available only in huge sizes. You can’t even find a classic garment among all the outdated clothing. Prices have gone up at craft fairs, such that dresses run you anywhere from 20 to 25 CUC.

An average salary barely gives you enough to eat, so anything beyond that could well be called a luxury. But, malnourished or not, one’s appearance continues to matter.

I know many middle-aged women who are “self-employed” (waiting tables, working at cafeterias or at agricultural and livestock markets) only because of the money they earn. I know others who are more fortunate and receive money from a relative abroad. The former are hard-working women who manage to remain beautiful through sheer effort, and because they feel they owe it to themselves.

I would like to know what those who have only their measly salaries do, those who are no longer so young so as to remain attractive without effort.


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

One thought on “Being Beautiful in Cuba

  • Take heart .
    Future technologies, the mapping out of the human DNA and the future techniques of body changing/shaping, the curing of all diseases as well as the now ongoing research into age-reversing will enable any and all humans to live healthily -for as long as one wishes (many hundreds of years ), at whatever body age one prefers and, say, some 30 years out in whatever body one prefers.
    The scientists know where they have to look for the answers to the problems of disease , old age and other physical and mental problems . All they are waiting for is the advanced technological knowledge and equipment to fix ourselves ( so much for the idea of Intelligent Design) .
    That knowledge and equipment will be ours and in an ever-rapidly increasing fashion as Moore’s Law dictates and with smarter-than-human computers coming online in the early 2020s .
    A joke on aging:
    A woman was complaining that aging is unfairly applied.
    “Women” she said “age so much worse than do men”.
    Someone else pointed out that God was completely fair when it comes to aging’s effects on our appearance .
    Think about it .
    When a man gets older he looks like ..say…Sean Connery ( or Ernest Hemingway)
    When a woman gets older, she looks like,.. say…Sean Connery (or Ernest Hemingway).
    Completely fair.
    A quote from Grouch Marx ( no relation to Karl) :
    “You’re only as old as the woman you feel ”
    ( a play on the word of the original ” You’re only as old as you feel.”)
    Hang in there ( literally?) . If you can last about 30 more years in decrepitude , you have a chance for immortality.
    I hope to see your beautiful new self at the Rejuvenation Clinic .

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