This is How Beauty Standards Differ Around the World
Our preoccupation with beauty is an international obsession, but how we define beauty across the globe couldn’t be more different. In an effort to break down beauty barriers, we're taking a look at what being "beautiful" means at home--and beyond our borders.
Familiar territory: the Western view on beautyIn the West, popular consensus--and a quick flip through Vogue--will tell you that the majority still values the aesthetic of a tall, slender-but-busty woman with delicate features. To top off this already-intimidating list--a small waist paired atop a perky derriere. No pressure, right?
Unrealistic to the majority of “real women” as it may seem, these are some of the most sought-after traits for women in Western culture. And while the battle for a healthier and more realistic body image is on, most of us still find ourselves stocked up on push-up bras, waist trainers and yoga mats.
If fit and fab is what you seek in 2016, do it right by mixing up your exercise routine and trying something new. Get outside your comfort zone with an of-the-moment class like Aerial Silks or sign up for salsa with your SO – which does double-duty as date night.
The French do it au naturelIn France, jolie laide is the motto--loosely translated to describe unconventional beauty. Here, those distinct and quirky physical traits that you work so hard to conceal are exactly what French women find most appealing. A natural beauty that stands apart from the rest--a refreshing take on what it is to be “pretty.”
Take a cue from the French and give that contouring brush a break. Finally an excuse to use the hashtag #iwokeuplikethis!
Sticking to the shade in KoreaOne of the most coveted traits in Korea is their much sought-after porcelain skin. Long admired by women across the globe, the market for Korean face masks and skin care products has surged drastically in recent years in a bid for women of the West to combat aging and achieve that perfect complexion.
For the women of Korea, maintaining that perfect pale complexion is no small feat, the origins of which trace back in history to a time where tanned skin implied a lower social status.
For a skin care regimen that would make any Korean woman proud, check out the line of paraben- and sulfate-free products by AmorePacific.
India's perception of beauty shifts as the East looks WestPresent-day standards of beauty in India have taken a turn towards Western ideals, now putting pressure on women to lighten their skin and slim down in a bid to hold court with the women of the West.
One of the most enviable traits of the modern-day Indian beauty is their thick, lustrous hair. One of the most commonly used tricks of the trade Indian women use to maintain their trademark locks is none other than coconut oil. Massaged into the scalp, the oil will provide a deep conditioning treatment and condition your hair back to health.
New Zealand women make the ultimate commitment for their beauty ritualsFor the Maori people of New Zealand, nothing says beauty like a tattoo on your face. Traditionally done with a chisel (ouch!) tattoo machines now add permanent adornments to the faces of these women--swirly-shaped tattoos called Ta-moko. To find yourself at the top of the heap, you’ve got to go big--the most beautiful women are thought to be those with their chins and lips fully tattooed.
Brazil and the South American standard of beautyIn Brazil, beauty has a lot to do with what’s going on south of the border. Large breasts and a waif-like figure are less of a concern than a toned and curvy bottom half. Thicker, more muscular legs and hips are the focus here, with particular attention being paid to--you guessed it!-- the butt. Here, if exercise and diet won’t cut it, many women are willing to go under the knife for implants designed to perk up those trademark South American assets.
Beyond the physical, Brazilian women are notorious for their free-spiritedness and seemingly effortless sensuality. Despite the work that goes into those enviable beach-bodies, there’s something inherently sexy and confident about these South American stunners.
Take a note from fellow Latina, Columbian-born Sofia Vergara, who says, “Confident people have a way of carrying themselves that makes others more attracted to them.”
No rest for the RussiansNever caught on a “sweats” day and seemingly oozing with sexuality, Russian women may have coined the phrase “more is more.” Contrary to the French, Russian women see more value in putting added effort (and funds) into their appearance.
Born in Russia, supermodel Irina Shayk has this to say about beauty back home: “…in my country, women spend a lot of time on beauty rituals and take very good care of themselves. Natural beauty is carefully cherished and is brought to perfection by make-up, clothes and the unique combination of little things that are called "personal charm."
A dangerous quest for beauty in ThailandThe pursuit of perfection in Thailand is no laughing matter, and many women have paid the ultimate price in their quest for beauty. The ideal Thai woman is in almost comical contrast to the natural traits so many local women are born with. Value here is placed on pale skin, a narrow frame and pronounced eyes and nose.
One valuable--and safely attainable--beauty regimen to take away from Thailand is their emphasis on protecting their skin from the sun. While their motivations may have more to do with maintaining a lighter complexion than sparing themselves from harmful rays, there’s no denying the benefits to always seeking out skin care products that boast SPF all year 'round.
Stretching it out in BurmaSome rituals of beauty have more to do with tradition than anything else. As in the case among the Kayan tribe of Burma, where, from early childhood, women stack brass coils around their neck for the illusion of length. Over time, as more coils are added, the shoulders are pushed down and the neck is in fact lengthened--something that is seen as a tool to attract men of the tribe, and a controversial draw for tourism in recent years.
More to love in MauritaniaContrary to Western pressures, many African countries such as Mauritania and Nigeria view overweight women as the most sought-after, while the slimmer few are considered undesirable and encouraged to gain weight.
Instead of booking a one-way ticket, try giving yourself a pass every now and then and indulging in whatever it is you’re craving. One thing the Mauritanians are definitely right about --there is something undeniably sexy about curves you can hold on to!