The global beauty market may be worth $265 billion, but there are plenty of women and men from around the world who judge beauty by very different standards. After all, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” according to the old saying. It is no wonder that when it comes to some of the most unusual beauty trends from around the world, the saying is proven to be certainly true.
In the U.S, for example, 45 million Americans now have tattoos and piercings, which are now commonplace between men and women even though trends were once thought of as unusual and unique. As you will discover through this piece, tattoos and piercings are actually nothing compared to what some people from different parts of the world consider beautiful and trendy.
Many of these beauty trends have a huge symbolic or even religious importance, while other procedures are carried out in a bid to ensure that a woman secures herself the richest and most influential husband within her own tribe or community. Additionally, you will find a whole new kind of weird and wonderful beauty trends created by the modern media and their perception of what constitutes true beauty.
Now, prepare to cringe as we discuss 15 strange beauty indicators from around the world.
15. Crooked Teeth
Throughout most of the developed world, straight teeth and a perfect smile are the ultimate standard in dental beauty. As a result, people will spend a fortune having expensive orthodontic work carried out to achieve it. However, young women in Japan have, in recent years, been engaging in an unusual practice known locally as “yaeba”. Yaeba translates literally as “double tooth,” and involves these women having the same expensive orthodontic work, only in this case, the braces are designed to make their teeth look a little more crooked than nature intended.
This procedure is normally done to one or two teeth, and is supposed to make the woman in question seem a little less perfect, and therefore less intimidating. This is one beauty trend which is already starting to spread around the world, with a similar procedure known as “tooth crowding” becoming increasingly popular even in the US.
14. Brass Neck
If you are a member of the KayanLahwi tribe, whose villages are found in modern-day Burma and Thailand, then chances are that your dream girl has a long, elegant neck decorated with a series of metal rings. This is because KayanLahwi girls start wearing these heavy coils when they are just five years old, and over time women can have as many as 25 fitted to their necks. Although this practice makes it look as though the women’s neck has been stretched, appearances can be deceptive. In fact, the weight of the solid metal coils holds down the shoulders and collarbone, creating the illusion of a longer neck underneath all those decorative rings.
13. On The Right Foot
Foot binding was an important part of Chinese culture for centuries, and though it was banned in the 1940s, its effects can still be seen on some older women, especially in rural areas of the country. This was a gruesome practice which involved breaking the women’s toes, before they were bent back against the sole of the foot to be “bound” in place by a tight fabric wrapping. Not only did this make the feet of Chinese women small and delicate – a symbol of status and social standing in rural China – but also women who underwent the foot binding procedure were said to make particularly good wives, as they wouldn’t complain too much.
Scarification, or the practice of marking the skin with a knife to create patterns or symbolic marks is particularly popular in Africa, especially the Karo tribe from Ethiopia and South Sudan’s nomadic Dinka people. The Dinka mark the faces of teenage boys and girls in the tribe as a rite of passage. Usually, girls are marked with beautiful patterns, and boys have three parallel lines, which are supposed to represent their entry into manhood. Although the procedure can be painful, Dinka youths are expressly forbidden from crying or even flinching during their own scarification, since doing so would bring shame to their whole family.
This unusual beauty trend is also found in Papua New Guinea, half a world away from Ethiopia and South Sudan. Here, the Sepik people mark the skin of their young men with a very particular alligator pattern. This is another rite of passage ritual, with the Sepik believing that the alligator consumes the boyhood of the young man, thereby allowing him to enter adulthood.
11. Skin Deep
Tattoos may now be seen as the ultimate sign of rebellion by angry Western teens, or as a way to identify you as a member to a particular social group. But, for many cultures around the world, tattoos continue to have an enormous cultural significance. The Maori in New Zealand have decorated their skin for centuries with distinctive black and dark blue patterns called Ta-Mako, including facial and lip tattoos. Women will often tattoo their lips blue, while also tattooing Ta-Mako designs on their chin – a sign of true Maori beauty.
10. Fat camp
Kim Kardashian may have “broken the internet” with her naked pictures, but even her curves would pale in comparison with the fuller-figured women considered beautiful in the African country of Mauritania. In the past, women who found themselves unable (or unwilling) to put on weight, were packed off to “fat farms” by their families, so that they could be force-fed high-fat foods, like couscous and dates, in a bid to make them more attractive as potential brides. Luckily for the sake of health and mental wellbeing of Mauritanian women, this outdated practice is dying out, but bigger women are still considered to be the pinnacle of beauty, and can command bigger dowries as part of marriage rites.
9. All Ears
Ear decoration is another beauty trend which has gone from being a traditional practice in the tribes of Africa and South America to becoming a widespread and socially accepted form of body modification in the Western countries. However, while a discreet ear-ring wouldn’t look out of place on the streets of the US or Europe, ear stretching, which is still carried out by the maasai tribe of Kenya, might raise an eyebrow or two. Normally, maasai women use weights to stretch the earlobes until they are almost long enough to touch the shoulder, and combine this with a nicely shaved heads, and you will definitely have heads turning!
8. Open Dimples
Thailand seems to be rich in several traditional practices to enhance beauty. One of this is cheek piercing, which may seem horrifying to people living outside Thailand due to the enormous pain endured during the process. For the Thai people, however, this is an act of devotion to themselves, and also a procedure that they believe will help chase evil spirits from their lives.
Interestingly, Thai people are deeply rooted in this culture, often performing the ritual during the 10-day vegetarian festival in Phuket. The competition is usually stiff with people using guns, swords, and even bikes, to pierce through their cheeks.
7. All In Your Head
Although no longer practiced, skull binding was once widespread among communities in areas as diverse as Peru and Iraq. Archaeologists have found skulls from about 7,000 BC in Peru, which show elongated skulls, probably achieved by wrapping an infant’s head tightly in fabric, or even using wooden boards to encourage the skull to grow lengthways as the child gets older. Although it is unclear exactly why skull binding was carried out, there are theories that it was for ritual or symbolic reasons, and that those chosen for the procedure may have had an elevated status in society.
6. Nose Out Of Joint
In Iran, you will often see young women and men proudly sporting bandages on their nose, or other parts of their face. This is to give the impression that they have undergone plastic surgery, something that is now symbolic of wealth and status in Iranian culture. Sometimes the bandages hide a real nose job, although it may have been carried out weeks before. In other cases, however, no plastic surgery was carried out at all, but young Iranians still want their peers to think that they are wealthy enough to afford such elective procedures – and brave enough to undergo them.
5. Inked Images
While tattoos may still be frowned upon in some cultures, temporary ink drawings on the hands, body, or face are often used to celebrate special occasions – safe in the knowledge that the images will fade after a few weeks, or a few good washes. Henna is used frequently in India to decorate visible parts of the body on a bride’s wedding day, or for certain religious festivals throughout the year. Delicate and intricate patterns are painted directly onto the skin to create a beautiful visual effect, a fad that is currently being copied by Western women, who are fascinated by Indian culture, or are just too scared to have a permanent tattoo.
4. Snow White
Skin whitening is another modern beauty trend, and one that often causes a lot more harm than good. Women in Africa, South America, and particularly Asia, are constantly bombarded by images of white Western women as the beauty ideal. As a consequence, they often turn to unproven and sometimes dangerous skin whitening products in a bid to lighten their own natural skin color. Naturally, a lot of these products contain unpleasant chemicals, which if used incorrectly, or over a long period of time, can burn the skin, leaving it looking damaged and unhealthy. We are now finally witnessing a larger representation of coloured women in the media, which is somewhat countering this dangerous craze.
3. Cut Your Teeth
Women in some Indonesian tribes have been going through a painful procedure called teeth chiselling for decades. The procedure leaves the women with smaller, pointed teeth – a sign of a higher social status in this particular tribe. However, teeth chiselling is carried out in other parts of the world for different reasons. In Bali, for example, one tribe files down their teeth to sharp points because they believe their teeth represent anger and hatred, and that they can rid their lives of negative emotions by essentially reducing their teeth. Other cultures, such as the African Wapare tribe, file their teeth to make their warriors look more like animals – and presumably, to look more fearsome on the field of battle.
2. On The Nose
The women of the Apatani tribe in India are well-known for their unusual nasal decorations – plugs inserted into the side of their nose with the express aim of making them look less attractive. Actually, it is said that the Apatani women were once considered the most beautiful in all of India. However, this beauty came at a price as their villages were constantly being raided by neighboring tribes looking to steal themselves an Apatani bride. And so, the rather ugly and ungainly nose plugs were created, proving to be very successful at keeping men from other tribes away from their women. This practice has continued even into the modern era, though it is now just an Apatani tradition, rather than an unconventional anti-theft device.
1. Getting Lippy
Lip plates are worn by women of the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia, in an effort to appear more beautiful and desirable to men looking for a bride. The process of inserting the lip plate starts when a girl reaches puberty. As normal practice, plates of increasing size are inserted, gradually stretching the lower lip, until she can insert a full-size symbolic lip plate. The plate is often decorated by the woman herself to show off her skills, and an element of her personality, to prospective husbands.
More interesting is the fact that there is a definite hierarchy when it comes to the lip plates of the Mursi. If you want to catch the attention of the most powerful men in the village, then you have to be willing to have your lip stretched to accommodate the biggest plate.
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!