World Standards of Beauty
Beauty. While universally understood, it’s not always universally perceived. What do you think beauty is? What does it mean to be beautiful? With the beauty industry having a net worth of $265 billion, it’s only natural that men and women all over the world view beauty differently. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder many would say and it’s certainly true for these few worldly standards of beauty. From whitewashing to piling on the pounds, here are some – what you might call – different and iconic standards of beauty.
If you are a member of the Kayan Lawhi tribe, located in villages in modern day Thailand and Burma, typically your dream woman has quite a long elegant neck adorned with metal rings. These rings are worn by female members of the tribe all year round, even while sleeping. While in antiquity, the rings were worn to protect themselves from tiger attacks and ward off men from rival tribes, today they are worn to elongate the neck as male members of the tribe find this most beautiful. While the coils weigh up to 25 pounds each, contrary to popular belief, they don’t, in theory, elongate the neck; it’s a mere illusion. Women of the tribe begin to wear these coils from an early age of 4 or 5, with an additional coil being added every year.
Piling on The Pounds in the Name of Beauty
In Mauritania, morbidly obese women are sought after by men because they are thought to be exceptionally beautiful. The tradition among Mauritanian women holds that the more rolls of fat you have, the more beautiful you are. The tradition stems from a time where – much like cattle – fat women were considered as a title of status for her husband. People strive to obtain this standard of beauty, so much so, that they send their children off to fattening camps.
The practice of leblouh, intensive force feeding, is pushed onto girls as young as seven years old. Often these camps are placed in a remote part of Mauritania. The average intake of calories for a young girl is 1500 and 4000 for a male body builder. But a girl who is sent to these fattening camps is fed a mind-blowing 14,000-16,000 calories daily. If they refuse to eat, they are caned by people on these fat camps. What’s even worse is that if they vomit, they have to eat it. While there’s nothing wrong with having a few extra pounds, we have to question if this standard of beauty is actually beauty at all when the lives of countless women are put in the hands of obesity and countless other health concerns.
Wondering on Whiteness
For many cultures, staying white or using products to lighten your skin is widely common. In China and Korea, many people cover up their skin and use umbrellas, visors and just about anything they can find in order to prevent tanning in the subtropical climate. This standard of beauty comes from a time in history where people who were tanned were thought to have a lower status than paler people. People who worked in the outdoors were often tanned, which represented being poor in comparison to those who were pale, who were thought to represent luxury, wealth and beauty.
India, while full of colourful garments and culture, also strive to achieve fairer skin. Having once belonged to the English colony, it’s clear that there is still an influence on modern day India. Men and women both use creams to make them fairer and these creams encourage people from spending more time in the sun than they need to. Adverts often portray pale people more successful and sought after than tanned people. South Africa had a white government that dominated black people. So in this culture you could say lighter skin was seen to be more powerful and more advantageous. As a result, many South Africans lighten their skin and even change their names for better job opportunities.
Scandinavians are awed by many for their minimalism both in their beauty and interior designs. When you read interior design and Scandinavia together in the same sentence you might immediately think of IKEA, but there is so much more to the Nordic countries than tedious flat pack furniture and those delicious meatballs. Simple in their aesthetic and practical in their functionality, it’s no wonder why people look to the Scandinavians for inspiration. Modern Nordic designs that include airy, open, bright and spacious interiors is what attracts global appeal.
RAINS, a rainwear, bags and accessories brand from Denmark, takes huge inspiration from this way of design. Having defied Danish weather and all rain since 2012 through their practical, sleek and minimal design, you could certainly say they know a few things about keeping dry while looking good. Their new collection, “Icons”, is influenced by this exact indigenous design, function and minimalism. “Icons” is an interpretation of the RAINS classic rainwear with an iconic twist of Scandinavian design. RAINS is undoubtedly popular for this design and after all, it doesn’t just rain in Scandinavia!
And... That's it!