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Beauty Ideals Around The World

They say that beauty is skin deep, but it is also a human obsession.  

  Here in America, we have our own perspective of beauty.  If you're skinny, if you are blonde, if you are busty and so on and we achieve this kind of beauty through dying our hair, going on crazy diets and plastic surgery.  Just as Americans have their own beauty ideals, countries all around the world have their own idea of what beauty is and it is interesting to see the differences in these ideals and what if valued in different cultures.

While it is not practiced anymore and was a trend that died out over the centuries, foot biding was a common practice of the upper class in China.  Beginning at a young age, girls would begin the painful process of tightly binding their feet so that they would no longer grow.  Binded feet was seen as erotic in Chinese culture and it was believed that women with binned feet would have a prosperous marriage.  What binding feet actually caused was the restrictions of women to partake in a social life due to the limitations of mobility.

Known as "long necks" or "giraffe women" women of the Kayan tribe of Tibeto-Burma, wrap coils around their necks beginning at the age of two.  As the length of the coils grown, more weight is added causing their shoulders to be weighed down giving the illusion of eloquent, long necks.

The Muslim culture has the complete opposite ideals than that of the American culutre. The Koran orders Muslim men and women to dress modestly.  In wearing a hijab, Muslim women are liberated from the ideals of the world.  In wearing the hijab, women gain a sense of self respect and the knowledge that they are a beautiful treasure waiting to be unveiled.  This also allows men to fall in love with women based on who they are and not what they look like.


While being tan is something that most Americans strive to be, young people of southern Asia associate being pale with being beautiful, wealthy and powerful.  Over the years, the white skin seen in American culture has been marketed across Asia and because of the desire of lighter skin, it has become hard to find cosmetic products in these countries that do not contain a skin bleaching element.


Another aspect of western beauty being desired after is eye shape.  Because of the drastic differences between eyes of Europeans, and Asians, many Asian women have been undergoing eyelid surgery so that they can obtain the western "doe-eyed" look.

In some African tribes, scarification, or the purposeful scaring of the body, if practiced in order to show status and attract the opposite sex.  Scarring begins at a young age and is continually done throughout adulthood.

European women on the other hand believe in a more natural look.  Rather than excessive make up or piercings, European women embrace everything that American women feel that they are not....beautiful just the way they are.

Brazilian women, who are often regarded as the most beautiful women in the world are trying to deny their "guitar shaped bodies".  This figure, which was once seen as a sign of health and wealth is now rejected by Brazilian women in attempts to match the unhealthy western ideal.


In parts of China, men and women are undergoing painful surgery where doctors separateness the bones in their legs, break them, and insert metal rods in their place so that these men and women will be taller than before.  The hope is that in being taller, it shows superiority and status.

Preach it as we may, beauty is not skin deep.  No matter where you live, appearance is the definer of who we are and it shows that we, as people who are either desperate to fit in or be regarded as set apart, will go through any means, painful or not, and deny who we truly are just to be accepted.