“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Never is a statement more true than when you take a look at the different definitions of beauty from around the world. What one finds truly beautiful, someone else might find outrageous, weird or even ugly. We do not all live following the same standards or principles. We do not have the same ideals. We are different; so is beauty.
Image: Butch Osborne
The Kayan Tribe of Thailand
The female members of the Kayan tribe (situated on the border between Burma and Thailand) have another ideal of beauty. Known as “long necks”, they measure a woman’s beauty according to the number of brass rings worn around the neck.
Image: Donna Cymek
Kayan woman, Thailand
As they grow older, the women increase the number of rings which gives them an elongated neck appearance.
Image: Ralph van Bemmel
The Masai of Kenya
To the Masai, it’s all about the ears! Or the earlobes to be exact. Here, long,stretched out ear lobes are the ideal. Various materials are used to both pierce and stretch the lobes, including thorns for piercing, bundles of twigs, stones, and the cross section of elephant tusks.
Image: Ralph van Bemmel
Masai woman, Kenya
Women are also known to shave their heads and remove the two middle teeth in their lower jaw.
Image: Mohamed Haykal
Women of the Amazon
Women of the Amazon use their whole bodies as their beauty palette. They pierce the bodies and paint their faces using plants and animal blood.
Image: Sean Hawkey
An Amazon women with face painting from plants and animal blood.
Japanese women are known for their silky white skin and lustrous flowing silky hair. Wanna know how they do it? Bird poop! More precisely, nightingale droppings. That’s right, the bird that is known for its beautiful melody is the centuries old secret of how Japanese women maintain their lovely skin and hair. The droppings of the nightingale are a fine and almost odorless powder that is mixed to form a paste; this is then applied as a face pack.
The result of face pack of nightingale droppings is a lightening and smoothing of the facial complexion, which leaves the skin feeling soft and nourished. Handed down from one generation to another with all the care and love of family silver, this product is used as much today in Japan as it was in centuries past.
Image: Nouf Kinani
The Middle East
In the Middle East, beauty is not connected with what ones sees, but rather with what one does not see. Here, women’s bodies are covered from head to toe with an abaya, a long robe-like dress.
Middle eastern woman
What is revealed of the women, however, are beautiful kohl-lined eyes, henna tattoos and the lovely scarves and jewelery that help decorate the abaya.
Image: Quinn Dombrowski
The Maori of New Zealand
The Maori people of New Zealand practice a sacred beauty ritual: tattooing. These indigenous people, who are of Polynesian descent, believe women are more attractive when their lips and chins are tattooed. A woman with full, blue lips is considered the most beautiful and desirable.
Maori women, New Zealand
And because one of the most important parts of a girl’s life is getting married and having children, it is critical that she receives the facial tattoo, or ‘moko’, as soon as possible. Since moko also tells about the bearer’s rank, lineage, special skills and marriage status, it is also a way of advertising for a mate: ‘look how marrying me could benefit you.’
While women in the Western World would do just about anything to stay thin, in Mauritania, a woman is not considered beautiful unless she is F A T! Actually the heavier a woman is here, the more desirable she is considered.
In fact, being a fat woman in Mauritania is so desirable that parents go out of their way to fatten up their daughters. They actually make girls as young as 5 and as old as 19 drink up to five gallons of fat-rich camel’s or cow’s milk daily just to fatten them up!
The Mursi Women of Southern Ethopia
Worn in the lower lip, the clay plate is the defining image of the Mursi woman. The process involves piercing a hole in the bottom lip, stretching it out and gradually increasing the size of the lip plate.
The Mursi see it as a symbol of a woman’s beauty, pride and sexual maturity.
So as you can see, when it comes to beauty, one must truly keep an open mind.