In the West, we have a very fixed idea of what beauty comprises. To have a chance of being considered beautiful, women must be slim, youthful and have long hair. Things are very different in other countries and cultures though. It might surprise you just how different …
1. Long Necks
Photo Credit: grebberg
For the Pa Dong tribe, who live along the Thai/Burmese border, beauty is a long, long neck. This effect is produced by circling the neck with brass rings, starting at the age of 6, and gradually adding more and more. The only time they are removed is on the girl’s wedding night.
2. Blue Tattoo
Photo Credit: shimmertje
Tattoos are common around the world. For Maori women in New Zealand, the tattoos are placed on their lips and chins. The ultimate beauty is to have full blue lips.
Photo Credit: witoldosko
Scars are considered ugly in the west, but for Karo girls in southern Ethiopia it will help them get a husband. As young girls, the skin on their stomach is cut to create scars, and when they have enough they are considered ready for marriage.
4. The Bigger the Better
The western media might push thinness as desirable, but in many other cultures, big is most definitely beautiful. In many African countries, such as Mauritania and Nigeria, a skinny woman would be pitied. In fact, women are fed as much as possible to make them more beautiful (in the west, this is known as feeding and considered an extreme fetish).
5. Not Just for Girls
Photo Credit: Ferdinand Reus
This Central African tribe prize hold beauty contests – but this time, it’s the men on display! During festivals, the men compete to attract a wife, and are judged on their beauty and singing and dancing skills. As you can see from the picture, the guys go to a lot of effort!
6. Lip Plate
Photo Credit: Eric Lafforgue
We like to accentuate our lips with lipstick, but some African and Amazonian tribes consider that beauty is achieved by stretching the lip. They make a hole, which is gradually increased by inserting larger plates. As if that wasn’t painful enough, they may need some teeth removed to accommodate the plate. Ouch.
7. Teeth Filing
Photo Credit: rowteight
Most of us will avoid going near a dentist unless we really have to, but Balinese people willingly submit to a rather extreme treatment. They have some of their teeth filed, which is meant to remove vices like arrogance. It was also practiced among the Upoto tribe in Africa, and among Aborigines.
8. Bound Feet
Photo Credit: Okinawa Soba (In Asia and Africa until August)
While respecting other cultures is good, this is one ‘beauty feature’ that we can be glad has died out. In China, to achieve the effect of tiny feet, the bones were broken before binding, thus causing the woman lifelong pain and making it difficult for her to walk.
So, beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder! Some of these practices may seem strange, even unattractive to us, but I wonder what the people who do them would think of our ideas of beauty. Would we seem ugly to them?
Top Photo Credit: La Mariposa