Traveling doesn't just open up your world to how others live. It also teaches you about yourself, and forces you to question what you'd previously considered "normal." Having explored the globe quite a bit, one of my favorite surprises when abroad has been discovering which American beauty trends seem weird to other cultures. Some of the things we don't think twice about when getting ready for a night out would be considered totally bizarre and unattractive just a plane ride away!
When I first started traveling, my initial thought whenever I encountered something new was usually “how strange” or “oh, weird!” But the more places I went, the more I found myself questioning my own cultural standards, behaviors, and expectations. When you see people thriving in environments totally different from your own, you can’t help but reflect on what you might want to change and incorporate into your own life.
Once you realize that “media beauty” standards fit into subjective boxes dictated by the cultural standards of wherever you just so happened to be born, it sort of takes the pressure off achieving them. Like, I think I’ll just be beautiful and feel good about myself regardless of the nationality on my passport, thanks.
Scroll on to learn the beauty trends of ours that other cultures just. don't. get. Maybe you'll see them in a new light, too ...
I spent a year in a rural Japanese town in Tokushima-ken (woot woot #JETProgram represent!), arriving there toward the end of summer. I felt crazy lucky to be in a little beach town and was excited to get a bit of a summer glow, but all of the women told me I should wear long sleeves at the beach and always have an umbrella to keep my skin white. They couldn't believe I wanted more bronzed skin.
I also found the same ideal of pearly white skin holds true in South Korea and Thailand — tanning is seen as rather crazy. In fact, it's harder to find beauty products without skin-lightening ingredients in them!
2. Big Booties And Full Lips
Some South Koreans are completely baffled by Kardashian-style booties and Kylie Jenner's voluptuous lips.
3. Thin, Thin Bods
Michelle Phan explained how Mauritanians can't understand America's obsession with thinness. In their country, overweight women are associated with fertility and wealth, and considered the most ideal.
4. Loads Of Makeup
Laura Mercier, French cosmetics and skin care line creator, told the NYTimes, "It really astonishes me the way American women wear so much makeup ... French women are not flashy. They must be subtle. The message must not be, 'I'm spending hours on my face to look beautiful.'" After studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence and wearing too much makeup my first day of class, I realized this couldn't be more true!
5. Salons For Everything
British writer Suzanne Jannese shared that most Brits can't wrap their heads around how Americans "seem to spend an unholy amount of time being groomed: blow-dry salons (something the UK hasn’t gotten into … yet) and making time in your day to get your nails done and hair coiffed. Why? You’re just gonna sleep on it and wake up with a birds’ nest the next morning." Fair point, Jannese. But there's no shame in wanting blowout-worthy locks every day!
6. Super-White Teeth
Brenna Smith shared that other cultures just do not get America's need for crazy shiny white teeth. "Paired with our habit of constantly smiling at strangers, this comes across as creepy to many non-Americans," she said.
7. Collarbones And Shoulders
Another strange thing I encountered in Japan? Wearing a tank top that exposed my shoulders and/or collarbone was considered overly sexual! When I walked around town in a tank top, the older farmers and fishermen were ashamed to say hello to me!
Agree? Disagree? Have a strange American beauty trend to add? Tell me on Twitter @RoseEatsPlants!
Image Credit: Unsplash; Author's Own