Constant bombardment with images of movie starlets, catwalk models and skimpily clad musicians by the media often leaves us thinking that the Hollywood standard of beauty is the ideal. Many times we forget that women have been beautifying themselves for thousands of years in order to fit in with the particular beauty customs of their times and places of abode. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and other variables. The following are a few beauty traditions and ideals from around the world that show us just how versatile attractiveness is:
Fat farms in Mauritania
In Mauritania, big women are considered beautiful, while stretch marks and extra rolls of fat considered extremely attractive and highly desirable for marriage. As a result, girls of marriageable age are sent to fat farms where they are fed up to 15,000 calories daily to bulk them up and make them more attractive to husbands. The tradition dates back to the time of the moors, when a well fed wife was a sign of the husband’s prosperity and ability to keep his woman healthy during long droughts in this desert country.
Gyaru – Japan
Gyaru is a fashion subculture in Japan that features outlandish clothing, eccentric hairstyles and dramatic makeup. It is an extremely popular lifestyle choice for many teens in Japan, and is characterized by tanned skin, bleached hair, false lashes, vivid makeup and clothes choices that run the gamut from tiny schoolgirl skirts to designer suits worn by the Onee Gyaru, who is usually an older woman.
Long Necks – Myanmar
Women from the Kayan tribe, who are refugees from the former country of Burma (which is now Myanmar), are famous for wearing brass coils which give the appearance of an elongated neck. The tradition involves forcing girls to wear a few coils from a very young age, and gradually increasing the number of coils as they grow older in order to push down the shoulders and make the neck look longer. Long necks are considered extremely attractive and can often be the deciding factor for a man looking for a woman to marry.
For many of us, scars are simply healed over tissue from wounds caused by accidents and other mishaps. However, for Karo girls in Southern Ethiopia, scars are considered a sign of beauty and young girls undergo the process of creating scars on their stomachs at a young age in order to prepare them for marriage.
Facial tattoos – New Zealand
Facial tattoos are common in New Zealand for both men and women and are referred to as Moko. The moko is often worn on the chin and lips in women and is meant to signify beauty as well as strength in the person wearing it.
Beauty standards around the world are as diverse as the many people that live and share the planet with each other. No one standard is right for everyone and tolerance dictates that as long as what is beautiful to you does not harm others, then you have the right to beautify and make yourself attractive in any way you like.
It’s all about perception and self-acceptance. Don’t you agree?