Ilana Rehavia, a native Brazilian

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Brazilians have long been regarded for their beauty, but some say achieving perfection has become a national obsession. Ilana Rehavia, a BBC radio reporter and native Brazilian, has an inside perspective. "Growing up in Brazil, I used to feel pretty inadequate about the way I looked and about my body," she says. "Being such close proximity with the beach also didn't help."

The average weight of a Brazilian woman is 110–125 pounds—and the pressure to be thin leads many people to take extreme measures. "Brazil is the biggest consumer of diet pills in the world," Ilana says. Brazilians also love to be fit—and it shows. Luciona, a personal trainer, says women of all ages are taking their bodies seriously. "In the past, only single girls would take such good care of their bodies," she says. "But in recent years, married women with children, they are really working at it."

For women who can't achieve their ideal body naturally, Ilana says plastic surgery is becoming more and more common. "Brazil has about three or four magazines specialized only in plastic surgery," she says. The country is now second only to the United States in the number of plastic surgeries performed. "Before, it used to be all about the butt," Ilana says. "Now, it seems Brazilian girls are concentrating a lot more on having really big breasts."