“ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Indeed, it is subjective . It is impossible to define it because there is no one truth of beauty : there are as many kinds as there are men and women on earth. It would be impossible to find a single representation of the ideal woman or man , simply because beauty standards differ from one country to another and even within it. Today we are going to ignore this globalization which, unfortunately, conveys a tendency towards standardization of the canons of beauty and we are going to concentrate on the perception of beauty in certain regions of the world. The symbolism contained in certain traditions from elsewhere is sometimes astonishing, surprising, but so interesting. By understanding why certain practices exist and what is hidden behind them, we can perceive the beauty of any being.
Let's take a trip to the world of beauty...
N°1: THE SHAVED SKULL (TANZANIA)
While in Europe the zero ball is rather reserved for men and flamboyant , long hair for women, in Tanzania , the opposite is observed. Maasai women and girls shave their heads because long hair symbolizes the lion's mane and this is reserved for warriors . They must therefore remain in their “ lioness ” place with a close cut.
N°2: WHITE SKIN (ASIA: THAILAND / CHINA / KOREA / PHILIPPINES / JAPAN)
If you're in Thailand and you hear: "d am-tap-ped" , you have every right to be offended! In French, it means " dark as a duck's liver" . In other words, you are tanned and this is frowned upon. Skin colored by the sun is associated with a low social rank , because it is the peasants who have a tanned complexion , from working all day in the fields in full sun .
Conversely, be delighted to hear “ khwaaw suay” (“pretty white”) because it is the best compliment . Whether in China , Korea , the Philippines , Japan or Thailand , beautiful women are white . Pale complexion is synonymous with purity and wealth and is extremely well regarded. Conversely, in Western countries, a pale complexion will seem less attractive to us and we will associate bad looks with a deplorable state of health . Anyway, in Asia , tanning is excluded . This is why it is common to see, even in the middle of summer, umbrellas walking the streets, with Asians using parasols to protect themselves from the sun . It is also not uncommon to see women wearing a full swimsuit and even a bathing hood. At the expense of being sexy in the moment, this allows you to maintain white skin , a vector of beauty , all year round.
And because there is no trend without abuse , fashion for ever whiter skin with models of maddening whiteness occupying advertising posters have made whiteness a must-have . The cosmetics industry did not hesitate for a second before seizing this phenomenon: creams with whitening or bleaching agents are selling like hotcakes, whitening jabs are multiplying. This is without taking into account the negative effects on the body of these different skin products and the even more disastrous impact of injections on the circulatory system .
No. 3: THE Tā moko FACE TATTOO (NEW ZEALAND)
For a long time, one of the traditions of the Maori people has been to tattoo the faces of men (but also their thighs and buttocks. The objective being to mark their masculinity and in particular their transformation from boy to man , an important stage in life The complexity of the tattooed pattern will be a pure reflection of the status and origin of the boy raised to the rank of man . This design will make him more attractive to the opposite sex .
No. 4: THE MONO EYEBROW (TAJIKISTAN)
While in most parts of the world, eyebrows are subject to precise and artistic trimming with wax or thread to obtain a perfect shape, in Tajikistan , there is no question of removing even the slightest hair . The natural single eyebrow is a traditional sign of beauty and this physical feature symbolizes prosperity . Thus, some women do not hesitate to create a home-made monobrow to meet the standards of beauty . They can use a special green herb called "usma" to fill their eyebrows , color the space between the eyebrows and this from a very young age .
N°5: THE CHILDHOOD FACE: ROUND EYES - SHARP VOICES - CROOKED TEETH (CHINA)
In China everything is cute and beautiful . Appearing as childish as possible is therefore a major asset.
For this, women do not hesitate to go under the knife to unclamp their eyes so that they appear larger and rounder , like the innocent eyes of a child !
Likewise, being mannered with a small high voice allows you to accentuate the cuteness capital.
Crooked , misaligned teeth with prominent canines are surprisingly very popular. Orthodontists also agree to twist their patients' teeth to obtain this coveted result.
No. 6: DRILLED DITCHES (THAILAND)
The Thai people practice a cultural ritual that is painful to say the least: they pierce their cheeks at the level of the dimples . This process often takes place during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (10 days). Between men , they compete and use different drilling techniques: guns, swords, bicycles, etc. This trying act would be an act of devotion to themselves and would drive away evil spirits.
N°7: NOSE PLUGS (INDIA)
Apatani women were once considered the most beautiful women in India . The object of all desire, the Apatani tribes were often attacked by men from neighboring villages who sought to steal Apatani wives . It was therefore necessary to opt for a repellent practice with unusual nasal decorations : ugly and unsightly plugs in each nostril ! Enough to make them less attractive to men from other tribes. This anti-theft device continued into the modern era but is today more of a tradition than a real repellent system.
No. 8: THE LIP DISC (ETHIOPIA)
You have probably already heard of the Mursi tribe , this tribe where the women were nicknamed " plateau women ", because of the flat disc , called labret or dhébé , inserted in their lower lip . A real jewel decorated with magnificent engravings whose objective is, contrary to appearances, not ornamental .
In fact, large lips are very fashionable in this population. Before the age of 10, young girls have their lower lip pierced so that a wooden stick can be inserted. This begins the process of lip enlargement . This peg is quickly replaced by a clay cylinder which will be enlarged over the years until it reaches several tens of centimeters!
This lip ornament necessarily has a meaning and anthropologists have presented various theories . The labret would be a sign of belonging to a group : the wider the disc, the higher the social status . But this flat cylinder would also serve as protection against evil spirits . It would also be used to seduce males. This would also explain why it is only worn in the presence of men and during important meetings and why the Mursis woman is no longer obliged to wear it after her first child .
No. 9: CUT TEETH (INDONESIA - BALI - AFRICA)
Some tribes in Indonesia and Africa perform a painful procedure that involves chiseling their teeth to make them smaller and sharper .
In Indonesia , this eccentric dental art would be a sign of higher social status.
In Bali , teeth symbolize anger and hatred . The belief is that reducing the size of teeth would help get rid of negative emotions .
Finally, in Africa , it is the warriors who cut their teeth to look more like animals which would give them a more formidable appearance on the battlefield.
No. 10: DARK TEETH (ASIA)
Certainly, Asia and its beauty rituals , each more original than the last! Certain local tribes in Asia would indeed have the habit of dyeing their teeth black. If this tradition would have a non-cariogenic effect, it would above all reflect the status of a married woman.
N°11: THE LONG NECK (THAILAND/BURMA)
Every year, more than 40,000 tourists travel to observe the Kayan mountain tribes , and more precisely those they nicknamed the giraffe women , in reference to their neck which resembles that of the animal in size .
In fact, from the age of 4, girls wear a spiral necklace around their neck. You might think that this collar impacts the vertebrae of the neck to lengthen them, but it actually weighs on the ribs which begin to tilt downward . Thus, the more the ribs are inclined , the more the collar falls on the shoulders and becomes too wide and insufficiently long to wrap the entire neck . This is why it is changed by a longer spiral as the years go by. It's not just a ring that is added but the entire necklace that changes. Removing the collar is therefore not fatally dangerous and there is no risk of being choked even if the muscles are weakened . The reason women keep it on constantly is because the skin and bones of their necks are bruised and discolored by their permanent concealment under the collar. A real vicious circle which makes this ornament an extension of the woman's body .
These women , creators of illusions, achieved a real feat by making everyone believe that their necks were abnormally long , but why? To protect yourself from tiger bites ? To be less attractive to rival tribes and avoid being kidnapped for marriage or slavery? Hypotheses abound, but the mystery surrounding the true origin of this tradition remains impenetrable.
No. 12: THE CULT OF CURVIES (AFRICA: MAURITANIA - REPUBLIC OF CONGO)
A Moorish proverb sums up the African situation well: “A woman occupies a place in the heart equal to its volume” . Africans love plump women and curves are an irresistible asset of seduction . In Western countries, overweight and obesity lead to disease . In Africa, this excess weight is a vector of beauty and it is, conversely, thinness which is synonymous with illness and malnutrition . Thick flesh reflects wealth and testifies to the social success of the husband, which is why it arouses lust. Beauty contests reward strong women, with a natural and harmonious body . The result of such a craze for being overweight is abuse . Women are force-fed to gain weight and used drugs that act on hunger hormones to stimulate appetite . In Mauritania and the Republic of Congo, they are force- fed animal vitamins .
Each fad has its derivatives, we knew those of extreme thinness but not those of excessive curves .
N°13: LONG LEGS (RUSSIA)
Russian women have long harbored an obsession with long legs . To achieve their subjective goal of beauty , they do not hesitate to resort to surgery . To do this, the leg bones are broken and the calcification is allowed to rebuild naturally to gain a few centimeters...
No. 14: LOTUS FEET (CHINA)
In rural China during the Qing Dynasty, a terrifying and fanciful practice served as a tradition followed by women in hopes of appearing beautiful in the eyes of their peers.
Chinese girls , from a very young age, were forced to bandage their feet extremely tightly . Not only did the toes end up under the soles of the feet due to bandaging , but the feet also appeared smaller , not exceeding 15 centimeters. A lotus -shaped appearance, a symbol of purity and beauty in China .
At a time when the fashion is for thinness , and where the fragile and pale woman responds to the canons of beauty , small and delicate feet are on the rise. They become a real asset of seduction and the best guarantee for finding a good husband and climbing the social ladder . Women who have undergone the foot fixation procedure would be very good candidates because they would not complain too much.
Fortunately this painful practice was abolished in the 20th century even if it is still possible to observe it among older women in certain rural areas.
This is how our journey on the theme of universal beauty ends. It is possible to see beauty in every being, because everyone meets someone's standards of beauty in the world. Although certain practices seem atypical to us because they are far removed from the stereotype of beauty widely conveyed by Hollywood media, they have their symbolism and their cultural interest. These are traditions that create a difference between countries that are pleasant to discover while traveling.