Some say beauty is only skin deep, but it’s also a worldwide obsession, one that spans cultures and centuries. From Iran, where the perfect nose is considered the ideal form, to parts of West Africa, where fat is fabulous! Take a look at beauty trends and rituals from around the world that Time’s compiled.
- Iran: Iranian men and women embrace rhinoplasty as a shameless route to perfecting their face. It can also be a display of status. The popularity of rhinoplasty has made Iran the nose-job capital of the world! Times found that more than 30,000 Tehranians received rhinoplasties in 2006 alone.
- America: A curvy Marilyn Monroe may have once defined Western beauty, but today it’s a combination of Botox, implants, diet and hair extensions–at least if you’re in Hollywood. According to Newsweek– reared on reality TV and celebrity makeovers, 43 percent of American 6- to 9-year-olds are already using lipstick or lip gloss; 38 percent use hairstyling products; and 12 percent use other cosmetics.
- West Africa: In parts of western Africa women are considered most attractive when they’re overweight and sporting stretch marks. In Mauritania, parents send their daughters, who are often married at a young age, to camps where they are fed up to 16,000 calories a day. Talk about a “fat camp”!
- Brazil: Brazil is widely known for being the birthplace of some of the most beautiful people in the world ( check out Victoria’s Secret models). Brazil traditionally reveres its women for their “guitar shape,” a sign of health and wealth. However, the flow of Western media into Brazil has influenced Brazilian women to try to reduce their hips and booties! Historian Mary del Priore told The New York Times, “By ‘upgrading’ to international standards of beauty,” Brazilians are giving up on the belief that “plumpness is a sign of beauty.”
- Korea: Ever heard of eyelid surgery? It may not sound like a big procedure but it’s becoming a big deal to some Asian women! This surgery is done to make eyes wider and rounder, which is translated into a coveted look. Plastic surgery in general has skyrocketed in Asia over the past few years, but in Korea in particular, researchers estimate that 1 in 10 adults has been nipped and tucked, and even children are getting their eyelids done. The surgery, essentially an eye lift, creates a fold in the eyelid and gives the look of bigger, more Western eyes.
- New Zealand: In New Zealand, where indigenous Maori culture is experiencing a glorious resurgence in the last 20 years, men and women adorn themselves with swirling face tattoos called moko–a sacred beauty ritual that spans centuries. Think you’ve seen some intense tattoos in the Tattoo Capital of the world? Check out some of the beautiful ink Maori men and women wear! Though originally worn by these Polynesian descendents as a sign of status, Maori men and women now wear moko as an honorary throwback to their cultural history. One of the more distinctive forms of moko is the pattern women wear on their lips and chins
- China: In the states we’ve seen our share of plastic surgery extremes (Heidi Montag) but in parts of China, men and women getting an extremely painful leg-lengthening procedure done. In this part of the world, height is a sign of status-and, say many leg-lengthening patients, a prerequisite for success. So instead of polishing their resumes or investing in some extra high heels, some Chinese, hope to gain a few precious inches by having surgeons insert metal bars into their legs. It, essentially, breaks their bones and stretches their legs apart. Ouch!
- Burma: a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority in Burma, the Kayan, practice a neck-stretching practice! These Kayan women are known as “long necks” or “giraffe women” Fortunately – this practice is non-invasive. Kayan women wrap brass coils around their necks when they are still young and add more as they age. The shoulders are weirghed down by the weight of the rings which gives the illusion that their necks are growing.Unfortunately it’s becoming one of the most controversial, tourist attractions.
- East Africa: To the Masai warriors, it’s all about the earlobes! In some parts of East Africa, 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. Here in the United States we call it gauging and is especially popular here in Seattle!