What people find unattractive in different parts of the world

BY TAYLOR
MARKARIAN


Beauty
is an aesthetic, a concept, a product, a tradition, and even a sport. It is
always subjective, but one sure thing about beauty, is that it changes
drastically depending on geographic coordinates.
Each
culture has its own unique standard of beauty, making an attractive person in
Hollywood likely to appear unattractive in Africa, for instance. Some countries
keep beauty practices minimal, while others have a whole lot to say about what
makes the “perfect” woman.
All
dolled up



In
France, you might feel more comfortable going out without makeup. It is a place
where natural beauty is revered, rather than cosmetically-enhanced beauty. In
the United States we see celebrities layering on the makeup, but that’s the
opposite of what a French woman would do. In an interview with Vogue,
Paris-based professional makeup artist Violette explains how the French use
makeup compared to how other cultures might.
“What
we want is to be ourselves,” Violette explains, “Not a better version
of ourselves. We feel like it’s better to be used to something than to try to
change it. So we think: what style can I have with this face, and with this
hair? That mentality is 100 percent French.” If a French woman uses makeup,
it is typically only kept to a minimum to highlight her natural features. If
you look like you’re trying too hard, or putting a lot of time and effort into
your appearance, you’re not a true Parisian beauty.

A
small figure



Though
curves are becoming more accepted as a beauty ideal in the west, there’s
certainly not an overt acceptance of large body types. On the flip side, some
countries live by the phrase “the bigger the better.” North West
University nutrition professor Salome Kruger told How Ghana, “Some African
men find obese women more attractive and would like their own wife to be obese,
to show that he cares well for her and that she is not sick and [is] able to
produce children.”
A
generous booty and wide hips are also sought after in Jamaica, according
to NPR. “If you have no meat on your bones, the society can’t see
your wealth, your progress, your being,” said Sonjah Stanley-Niaah, a
lecturer in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies. Some
Jamaican women even go so far as to take “chicken pills” to plump up
their backside, which can be dangerous due to their arsenic content.
According
to How Ghana, studies by the Human Sciences Research Council demonstrated
that obesity among black women in South Africa may be due to their inclination
to link weight gain with wellbeing and attractiveness. This concept is not a
new one: Just change “weight gain” for “weight loss” and
you have America. This correlation between a woman’s weight and her status in
society appears to apply in a variety of forms — so every woman can rest
assured that she can feel bad about herself somewhere in the world.
No
curves



Slenderness
has been an idealized body type for women in western countries for decades, but
we’ve seen a slow shift toward curves in recent years. Before Kim Kardashian
broke the internet with her bountiful backside, women in other parts of the
world were already working to get some junk in their trunk. In Brazil, a large
rear end is still considered sexy to most Brazilian men, according to an
article in The New York Times. This endures, even as beauty standards
there are changing due to outside influence, and eating disorders are on the
rise as women work to get thinner and thinner.
In
Venezuela, there is pressure to have a specific kind of figure: big bust, tiny
waist, plump booty. Women often undergo multiple surgeries to fit their
country’s standard of beauty. In 2011, the country’s president, Hugo
Chàvez, publicly spoke out against these practices, saying that
doctors “convince some women that if they don’t have some big bosoms, they
should feel bad.”
Still,
these standards permeate retail. Vendors even display mannequins that reflect
this particular shape because the more voluptuous form actually ups their
sales. One Venezuelan woman in a New York Times video says, “The
Venezuelan woman will never be satisfied, because she’s always going to be
getting her breasts done again.”
Unadorned
necks



Many
of us have seen women with rings stacked high on their elongated necks in
issues of National Geographic. This kind of body modification takes place in
regions of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), and it is the trademark of a Padaung
tribeswoman. Even though the necks appear to get longer, what actually happens
when a woman receives her rings is that the heavy gold coil pushes down on her
shoulders and collar bone, making the neck seem longer than it is.
Still,
it is not for the end result of seeing the long, bare neck that these women
practice this tradition. In fact, having an exposed neck is uncomfortable for a
woman of this tribe, despite the initial amazement at finally getting to see
what her neck looks like. The long, coil-bearing neck is a mark of belonging,
as well as beauty.
A
tattoo-less face



In
the United States, face tattoos can be associated with gang affiliation, or
simply considered the mark of an undesirable, social outcast. However, it is
the complete opposite for the Maori people of New Zealand, whose cultural
history has been literally and figuratively marked by striking facial ink.
Getting
one’s face tattooed in this culture is known as Tā Moko. Women who participate
in this tradition get chin tattoos, signalling a huge milestone in their lives.
According to Broadly, “[The] traditional female chin tattoo is considered
a physical manifestation of their true identity. It is believed every Māori
woman wears a moko on the inside, close to their heart; when they are ready,
the tattoo artist simply brings it out to the surface.” Each chin tattoo
is personal and particular to the wearer. It is usually stylized after their
ancestral markings, as well as after their own identity. It is a practice that
makes Māori women feel whole, beautiful and fully realized.
Super
pale skin



In
many countries around the world, such as China, pale skin is idealized, and
women go to great lengths to avoid the sun (more on that in the next slide).
However, that’s not the case everywhere, as in some places, having a tan that
makes you look fresh off the beach is considered desirable. Jefferson M. Fish,
a Professor Emeritus of psychology at St. John’s University wrote on Psychology
Today that, “In the United States, many white folks like to sport a tan.
Some even go to tanning salons, despite warnings about skin cancer.”
Why
is this is considered attractive to people? Fish continued, “A
temporary tan — an acquired tan — has one set of social meanings — health,
leisure, and sexual attractiveness.” So it shows that you have both the
time to go to the beach and the money to get there, which is a reflection of
your status in society. Fish also noted that this is a privilege afforded to
white people only, so race is clearly a factor here.
A
tan



Here’s
proof that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder (or, in this case,
dependent on where you life). We know that in America, having a tan is a sign
of beauty, but also of social status because it signals that you have the
luxury to be able to afford a tropical vacation or leisure time at the
beach. While many Americans would kill to have the perfect bronze
tan, that is not so for many Asian countries. 
In
places like China and Korea, for example, having a tan is a sign of poor social
status. In these cultures, the darker a person’s skin, the lower the social
class: It signifies that the person does a lot of outside, manual labor. By
contrast, the lighter an Asian person’s skin is, the higher their social class
and the greater their beauty. Women will go outside with parasols to keep their
skin light, or will even go so far as to consider skin bleaching.
A
natural nose



Many
people with flush bank accounts in the US get work done to their faces. Nose
jobs, botox — anything to get that much closer to perfection or youth. But
plastic surgery means something a little bit different in Iran. For many Iranian
women, getting a nose job isn’t just something you do if you have a lot of
money or a bad nose, it’s something virtually any woman of any class wants.
According
to Vice, Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery per capita in the world. So
why is everyone running to the surgeon? Not only is it a status symbol, it’s a
way of trying to find a good mate. “The bandage signals that you come from
a family who cares and provides for you,” Vice reported, “Even if you
don’t need a nose job, having a family that can afford to give you one is
preferable to having the genetics for a petite nose.” Iranian women will
often continue to wear a bandage over their nose long after they’ve gotten
their surgery to indicate to others — especially men — that they have had the coveted
procedure done. If you’ve got the nose you were born with, you’re getting
picked last for a “happily ever after.”
Smooth
skin



In
many countries, if you have a scar (or several scars) people gape and ask what
happened to you. But in Ethiopia, scars are a way of articulating beauty for
women, as well as physical prowess for men. “In Ethiopia’s Karo
tribe,” according to National Geographic, “Men scar their chests to
represent killing enemies from other tribes. Women with scarred torsos and
chests are considered particularly sensual and attractive.”
So
when you look in the mirror and you see stretch marks, think about how in
another part of the world you would be looked upon as beautiful for them. While
we go to great pains to minimize and hide our scars, other cultures willingly
undergo scarification and celebrate it.
The
monolid



In
South Korea, the biggest plastic surgery trend is the double eyelid surgery.
This is a procedure many caucasian or African Americans may not have heard
about before, but for many South Korean women, it’s normalized. It’s not
unusual for South Korean parents to offer their children double eyelid surgery
as a gift. So what is it, and why is it so desirable?
Many
Asians have what is commonly referred to as a monolid — literally meaning
“one eyelid.” It’s that crease on the upper lid that they’re after.
Many South Korean women think that the double eyelid is more attractive. While
a double eyelid is common in Western women, many cosmetic surgeons argue that
South Korean women don’t get the surgery to Westernize themselves or reject
their heritage, but rather to emphasize their facial features and emulate their
favorite K-Pop stars.
As
The Atlantic reported, it’s widely known that the majority of South Korea’s pop
stars and celebrities opt for this kind of surgery and, as in most cultures,
people like to emulate what they see famous, successful people doing. So while
the double eyelid surgery is normalized within groups of family and friends, it
is made even more desirable by the country’s entertainment culture.
Thin
eyebrows



Full
eyebrows have been trending in the U.S. on and off since the 1940s, with thin
eyebrows coming back in style here and there over the past century. But
luscious brows are a beauty staple within the Mexican culture.
As
part of their video series, 100 Years of Beauty, Cut.com shared a video of
beauty trends by the decade in Mexico. For the better part of a century, the
epitome of Mexican beauty has involved dark curls, red lipstick, and bold
eyebrows.
Dramatic,
shapely brows are a defining facial feature that is specific to Mexican
cultural history. While women today don’t go as far as donning brows like those
of famous artist Frida Kahlo, Mexican women still prefer dark and striking
brows as opposed to thin ones. So if you’re trying to get those eyebrows
#OnFleek, you should probably draw your inspiration from Mexican beauty
standards
Bad
character



In
Thailand, a person’s beauty is determined not just by their physical
appearance, but by their character. What kind of virtues they have and what
values they uphold affect people’s perception of just how beautiful they really
are. According to an article published in the journal, Ethics In Science And
Environmental Politics, qualities like charm, good nature, a devotion to one’s
duties, and modesty are all positive characteristics that make a woman
beautiful. If a woman lacks these qualities, she will be seen as ugly or
undesirable, no matter how physically appealing she may be.
Because
Thai beauty is evaluated in such a way, there is an emphasis on how well one
gets along in their society. The positive intermingling of physical beauty and
internal beauty lands a person in good social standing, which also improves
their chances of entering into a beneficial marriage.
So
on the one hand, it could be said that the Thai pay close attention to internal
beauty, while on the other, it could be said that it’s simply for the sake of
social acceptance. Either way, if you aren’t an agreeable person, you’re less
likely to be accepted in Thai culture. This view of beauty is essentially the
polar opposite of the American notion of beauty where, for example, physically
attractive celebrities can maintain their place at the top of society,
regardless of their personal values.
Skin
sans painted patterns



On
the Amazon River in the Central Brazilian Plateau, there’s a well-known
tribe that inhabits a large swath of land, according to the BBC. The Kayapo, as
they are known to the outside world, have a population of about 7,096 (as
of 2003), and have some distinct cultural customs and beauty standards not
found anywhere else.
For
one, Kayapo women shave a v-shape into their scalp. Additionally, the BBC notes
that both the men and women (and children) use a variety of painting techniques
to adorn their skin. Often, they look to elements of nature such as animals, or
insects such as bees, to inspire the patterns that they create on their bodies.
The
Kayapo learn these painting techniques starting at an early age, according to
the Wall Street International Magazine. Young girls practice them on dolls
with body paints made from plants, seeds, fruits, and more. So to have bare,
unpainted skin would indicate that a person has not been initiated into Kayapo
society, which would likely not be considered attractive.
A
blank forehead and an unpierced nose



Even
though body piercing has become quite popular in the United States in recent
years, most of those piercings are found in the ear, according to The Lancet.
But that’s not the case in other parts of the world. 
As Erin
Kenny and Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols noted in Beauty Around the
World: A Cultural Encyclopedia, “Whereas a few piercings are considered
part of the norm of appearance in the United States and Europe, in a nation
such as India, a nose piercing for women is a well-established element of
beauty norms.” So without one, it might look like something’s missing. It
doesn’t stop at just a piercing, though. 
Kenny
and Nichols continued, “Married women frequently pierced their noses
to wear flat studs or rings (called nath), occasionally connected with a gold
chain to the ear, especially as part of a bridal costume. Today, many women
choose to pierce their noses to enhance their beauty with gems, rings, or
semiprecious stones.” Women in India also wear a bindi or pottu on
their forehead, which has a spiritual connotation. 
Perfect
teeth
It
seems that everyone in Hollywood has straight teeth that gleam white whenever
they smile or have a close-up. But some beauty-seekers in Japan have eschewed
the so-called perfect smile, instead getting one that could be called slightly
imperfect. 
Specifically,
the look is called “yaeba,” which translates from the Japanese
as “double tooth.” And while in the United States the look is
dismissed as “snaggleteeth,” in Japan the dental condition is
perceived quite differently — as a trend. The New York Times quoted beauty
blogger Michelle Phan, who said, “In Japan, in fact, crooked teeth are
actually endearing, and it shows that a girl is not perfect. And, in a way, men
find that more approachable than someone who is too overly perfect.”
Not
everyone is on board with the trend, however, and some experts find the
connotations of the yaeba trend disturbing. Dr. Emilie Zaslow, an
assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University told The New
York Times that, “The gapped tooth is sort of preorthodontic or early development,
and the naturally occurring yaeba is because of delayed baby teeth, or a mouth
that’s too small,” she noted. “It’s this kind of emphasis on youth
and the sexualization of young girls.”
Unadorned
teeth



Grills
(or grillz) are one beauty trend that gained traction right in our own
backyard, though American hip-hop culture — but it isn’t too difficult to
imagine how unusual they must seem to outsiders. While this isn’t a trend that
bloomed in modern America overnight, it actually has some surprisingly ancient
roots. 
As
Kenny and Nichols wrote in Beauty Around the World, “After a
decade or so of underground bling in the hip-hop community, lavish dental
ornamentation as a status symbol entered the American pop culture
mainstream.” They also note that the trend has roots that go back to the
middle of the seventh century BCE, when wealthy Etruscan women wore flat gold
bands over their teeth.
So
what do grillz represent today? “As expensive and elaborate systems,
grills embody the definition of wealth, social status, and masculine virility
in the contemporary U.S. urban landscape,” they continued. And as time
went on, it wasn’t just men who sported a literal million dollar smile.
“Later, women celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Lady Gaga also began
wearing grillz,” they added, showing just how popular the trend had
become.
Natural
gums
Teeth
aren’t the only things in your mouth that you can adorn. “In some
cultures, in order to accentuate the mouth, it is not the lips that are
colored, but the gums,” noted Kenny and Nichols in Beauty Around the
World. And it’s not a new trend, either. They continued, “Gingival
tattoos, or dying the gums, have been common in some cultures since ancient
times in order to make the teeth appear whiter and give the smile more of a
dazzling effect.” They added that the practice is commonly done in Senegal
and other West African countries. Sometimes, women will also sport a silver
tooth to go with it to accentuate the color of the tattooed gums.
Not
surprisingly, the procedure can be quite painful, as noted by Kenny and
Nichols. A young Senegalese woman named Mariéme was not deterred, however,
by that prospect. “I want black gums to obtain a more beautiful smile.
It’s become an obsession,” she mused in a video made by VPRO Metropolis.
“I do fear the procedure a little. But I’ll be okay.” And while she’s
visibly in pain during the tattooing, she’s also pleased with the end result.
“It’s necessary to be beautiful and attractive,” she affirmed.
Wearing
only black



Make
no mistake about it: Arab women are some of the most fashion-conscious women in
the world. And beauty trends are shifting in the United Arab Emirates, where
all women wear an abaya (a robe-like dress) outside of the home. Emirati abaya
designer Alia bin Omair told The National, “Before we used to wear only
black, but about two years ago the ladies started wearing beige, white, grey
colours.” So anyone still wearing basic black may look a bit behind when
it comes to what’s fashionable.
Omair
also noted that women are wearing different kinds of fabrics, such as linen and
wool, depending on the season. “I feel it is better to change a bit and
use other fabrics,” she added, after noting that all of the women she
knows used to wear the same fabric all the time. Colored abayas are popping up
in some parts of Saudi Arabia as well, according to National Geographic,
though not in more conservative cities and towns. 
Empty
nostrils
Some
of the most distinctive beauty traditions in the world are practiced by
the women of the Apatani Tribe in India, and Kenny and Nichols wrote about
them in Beauty Around the World. “Historically, women of the
group distinguished themselves from other tribes through long, straight facial
tattoos along the bridge of the nose and the distinctive looking yapinghule
(sometimes called yapping hullo or y’apin hullo), nose plugs inserted into the
flesh of the outer nose on both sides,” they noted. The women also sported
large brass rings in their earlobes.
The
remote region where the Apatani live was only opened to outsiders in the 1940s,
according to National Geographic, so the tribe did not have as many
interactions with other people before that. And as time has progressed since
then, the traditional beauty practices of the region have fallen out of favor.
Still, some of the older women hope that those trends will be revived. “It
would be very nice if we started to do tattoos and ear plugs again,” mused
one women who still wears the yapinghule. She also hopes that they will go back
to wearing traditional, handmade dresses instead of store bought clothing.
Anything
but red hair and skin



What’s
the one beauty product you just can’t live without? For the women of The Himba,
a semi-nomadic tribe in northwest Namibia, that product is otjize, which
is a paste made out of red ochre, fat, and butter that’s sometimes scented as
well. The women put it on their skin and in their hair to give themselves a
reddish hue, according to CNN. This is why they’re known as “Namibia’s
iconic red women,” and have drawn photographers from all over the world
who want to capture their image for years.
While
the origins of the practice have been debated — perhaps it helps to repel
insects or keeps their skin protected from the sun — that’s not the motivation
behind the practice now. Himba women say that it’s an “aesthetic
consideration,” and they put it on every morning just as any western woman
does with her makeup. Although the region where The Himba live is threatened by
development, they continue to live and herd cattle in relative peace.





SOURCE: THE LIST
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.