In Western countries, a straight line of even teeth is considered the definition of the perfect smile, and many can’t imagine that people might think otherwise. But in Japan, things are the other way around: the peak of attractiveness is the so-called “yaeba,” or crooked teeth. It’s believed that people look cuter if they have this quality. It’s for this reason that dentists in Japan are in high demand — from both young men and women!
Western Africa, New Guinea
The inhabitants of New Guinea and several other countries in Africa still decorate their bodies with patterns and numerous artistic scars. The scars are usually given to men during an initiation ceremony, whereas for women these “tattoos” are considered an indication of great beauty. Of course, in the developed world there is no small number of people who also find this practice attractive — what is often referred to as body modification.
A heart-shaped face
In South Korea, plastic surgery is not only widespread, it’s considered completely normal. In major cities, you’ll see advertisements everywhere calling for people to go under the knife to improve their appearance.
Here, possessing a heart-shaped face is seen as one of the key ways to look beautiful. To get it, many Koreans are prepared to undergo complex operations. This often involves breaking the bones in the jaw into three pieces, removing the central part, and fusing the two others together to create a more pointed chin. Then the angles of the new chin are softened. For a long time after having this kind of operation, the individual is unable to eat solid food.
Mauritanians have absolutely no chance of attracting a man’s gaze if they don’t have folds of fat on their stomach.
To make sure girls obtain the desired dimensions, their parents send them to special “farms” where they can eat up to 16,000 calories a day (the norm is 1,500). Unfortunately, because of this tradition, many girls develop stomach illnesses.
Surgical dressings on the face
Iran is the capital of rhinoplasty. Despite the high price of the procedure, men and women here are ready to pay anything for the sake of a straight nose, which is seen here not only as a symbol of beauty but also of a certain status in society.
But this is far from the strangest thing you can see here. Even if someone hasn’t had a nose job, they might decide to walk around in public with a surgical dressing on their face to make people think they have.
In many parts of Asia, pale skin is considered to be the gold standard of beauty. If you walk into a store looking for some face cream, you’re unlikely to find one that doesn’t have a bleaching ingredient. This includes ones for men for use after shaving. Many Chinese people refuse to visit the beach without a mask, as they want to protect their skin from the effects of the sun. Moreover, Chinese and Thai women think Westerners are crazy for wanting to go to a tanning salon.
A high forehead
The Fula people
The most important attribute for a woman to possess among the Fula tribe of Africa is a high forehead. It’s for this reason that some of the tribe’s women remove parts of their hair from their head in order to create the illusion that they have one.
A similar custom has been observed in medieval Europe when women were known to remove as much as half the hair on the top of their head.
A long neck
One of the regions of eastern Burma has been called “the country of giraffe women.” This name refers to the Kayan people who live there, whose women wear brass rings around their necks. It’s believed that the longer a person’s neck, the more beautiful they look.
According to legend, these rings protect the Kayan women from tigers, although in reality they are simply a way of expressing their tribal identity.
Stretched lips and red skin
The Mursi people
Himba and Suri people
In the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia, girls learn to stretch the skin of their lower lips using special disks. The larger the disk, the higher the girl’s social status, and the larger the dowry that has to be paid before a marriage.
A similar thing can be found with the Suri tribe. They are a small African tribe inhabiting an area in southwestern Ethiopia along the Sudanese border. They are one of several tribes in the fertile Omo Valley, and they number an estimated 20,000 people.
The Himba are nomadic pastoralists who live in the Kaokoland area of northwestern Namibia. They use red ocher and fat to protect themselves from the sun. This gives their bodies a red color.
In some regions of Tajikistan, a monobrow is considered a sign of female beauty. If nature hasn’t granted a girl this desirable feature, she might decide to apply some black makeup in a line between her eyebrows.
Local people are convinced that joined-together eyebrows are an indication that a person will have a fortunate life.
These beauty traditions may seem amusing to some of us, and others may appear primitive. But how often do we take a look at our own standards of beauty and traditions? Punching holes in our ears and placing earrings in them, walking in uncomfortable high-heeled shoes to make our legs longer — perhaps these seem equally strange to others?