What is beautiful? A Botox-ed face, big breasts or Britney Spears‘ washboard stomach? Or maybe something a little more plastic like Barbie’s ravishing looks?
When we look in the mirror, we can all find something that needs enhancing. Maybe a little nipping, tucking, reducing or enlarging can make us more appealing.
In the West, it is becoming socially acceptable for women to go under the knife to change how they look. After all, the women on The Swan and Extreme Makeover come out looking like movie stars in the span of an hour in TV land. And it seems to be the most natural and normal thing to do.
However, different women around the world have their own idea of what beauty is. Some are influenced by western culture and some are not. Many international beauty practices seem preposterous, highly painful and even uncivilized. But is it really any different from the extremes of plastic surgery and starving yourself to look like a face in Vanity Fair? You decide.
Long- Necked Burmese Women
They look like flamingos – poised and long necked. The women of Burma achieve this look by coiling up to 20 brass rings around their necks. The gold rings, weighing up to 20 kilos, compress the woman’s collarbone and rib cage while giving the neck a longer look. As a woman grows in years, the number of rings she sports is increased. Some suggest the rings are worn to catch the attention of potential suitors while some believe they are worn to attract curious tourists. To Burmese women, more rings equals more beautiful.
Over-fed Mauritanian Women
According to a BBC report, one in 10 female children are still force-fed in rural Mauritania. When they reach about 7 years of age, girls are taken to ‘fat farms’. While on the farm, girls are force-fed and prohibited from doing any physical activities until they are obese. Parents and managers of ‘fat farms’ are convinced being fat will increase the chances of girls finding a husband because fat is associated with wealth. Despite government warnings about the health risks of obesity, fat farms are still operated by White Moor Arabs and many West African tribes. However, the western ideal of slender being preferable is trickling into West African society and is rapidly changing beauty standards.
You thought high-heels were painful? Try foot binding! Foot binding was introduced in the 11th century in China, and was practiced by girls between the ages of three and seven. The feet of young girls were wrapped in cloth, folding all the toes inward until the foot reached three to four inches in length. Then, the girls would wear pointy shoes in hopes that their feet would stay a small size. Back then, a girl’s beauty and allure was determined by the size of her feet. The process was so painful that girls would sometimes crawl to transport themselves. Theories suggest that foot-binding was practiced to arouse men when women dawdled on tiny feet. Regardless, this practice was finally outlawed in 1911 but continued into the early 20th century.
Bleach creams used by South Asian and African Women
Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all? South Asian and African women would like to join the fair race. In the South Asian culture and even some African societies, there is a resounding ideology that the fairer you are, the more coveted you are. Women, especially in Pakistan apply skin-bleaching products to achieve a creamy skin tone. A fair complexion in Pakistani society means wealth and high status. This helps the girl get a wealthy husband. All’s not rosy, however. The ammonia in bleaching creams has been known to cause burns, black patches and blisters on the skin. Every year, the cosmetic industry in Pakistan makes millions promising women “fairer, more radiant skin,” despite the harmful side effects.
Double Eyelid Surgery by Asian Women
Your eyes are the windows to your soul. Does the popular saying still apply when you have almond shaped eyes? Asian women, who mainly have a smaller eye shape, partake in a double-eyelid surgery to widen their eyes to look more soulful and more Caucasian. Some even do it to improve their self-esteem. A crease is created by plastic surgeons in the upper eyelid by making an incision and removing excess fat, muscle and or skin. Many double-eyelid procedures use lasers for tissue removal. These procedures are performed in Asian countries but more commonly in the North America, where Asian woman may feel like they need to fit in.
Western African women wear wooden discs in lips and earlobes
Never mind lipstick and earrings, the women of the Botocudos tribe in West Africa wear a wooden plug or disc in the lower lip and in the lobe of the ear. The discs made of light, dried barriguda tree wood, hangs down the lip. The initial insertion of the stick occurs when the female is 8-years-old, and the diameter of the stick or discs increases until it reaches up to three inches in diameter. The wooden earplugs worn by the women heavily droop, touching the woman’s shoulders. Some tribes such as the Manganja tribe replace the wood discs for metal shields and rings.