8 Surprising Beauty Standards Around the Globe

By Caroline Hallemann

America's media industry sells its audience (both young and old, male and female) an unattainable standard of beauty.


By Caroline Hallemann

America's media industry sells its audience (both young and old, male and female) an unattainable standard of beauty.


In the words of Tina Fey, "Every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”


Fey is joking, of course, but what makes her diatribe funny is that her critique of America's body image problem is grounded in truth. This country's beauty ideal is so set in stone, we found it almost hard to believe when we heard that women in the Mauritanian culture actually strive to gain weight, as being plus-sized is preferred. 


After this revelation, we hunted for other surprising standards of beauty from around the world. Click through the slideshow above to learn what eight different cultures consider beautiful.

This post originally appeared on Elizabeth Street.

Image: Flickr/Minnesota Historical Society


Women of the Masai community in Kenya stretch their earlobes using stones in an effort to elongate them. 


People in most cultures view women with petite feet to be attractive, but in Indonesia, the exact opposite is true. The Karo Batak people, who mostly live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, deem women with big feet to be more appealing.


In Iran, plastic surgery, specifically rhinoplasty, is so highly coveted that women frequently wear the bandages for weeks longer than necessary, or create fake ones if they haven't had the surgery at all!


The Padaung tribe in Burma places a high beauty value on the neck, and its women are well-known for the brass rings they wear, giving the appearance of an elongated spine.


Many Asian cultures consider large, Western-shaped eyes to be beautiful, and more and more women are going under the knife for that wide-eyed look. 


Women in Ethiopia's Karo tribe practice scarification to appear more attractive, as ladies with scarred torsos and chests are considered more sensual in their culture. 


French women hold the no-makeup beauty routine in high regard. Their goal is an all-natural look, as they think heavy makeup can age a woman's face.


In the West African country of Mauritania, being overweight is a sign of wealth and status, so much so that parents have been known to force-feed their daughters a diet of 16,000 calories a day.

This post originally appeared on Elizabeth Street.


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