How Beauty Standards Differ Around the World
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It Couldn't Be Done

By Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn't be done But he with a chuckle replied That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried. So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin On his face. If he worried he hid it. He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn't be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that; At least no one ever has done it;" But he took off his coat and he took off his hat And the first thing we knew he'd begun it. With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin, Without any doubting or quiddit, He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, There are thousands to prophesy failure, There are thousands to point out to you one by one, The dangers that wait to assail you. But just buckle in with a bit of a grin, Just take off your coat and go to it; Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.
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Throughout every city, town, village, and communities around the world, different examples of beauty define the standards of its people. For some, this can be an incredible amount of intellect or leadership. For others, beauty is seen through art or entertainment. What remains clear throughout every culture of both past and present is that there are infinite definitions and examples of what encompasses “beauty” and what makes one feel and appear “beautiful”. Here are some of our favorite examples of beauty from women of different backgrounds from across the globe.

 

Yangon, Myanmar

 

via Imgur

 

Women in Myanmar are seeking elongated necks and fair colored skin. Only one real type of makeup is worn by women here, and it’s called Thanaka – a yellowish-white paste applied to the face and skin. Myanmar is also home to the Kayan tribe which is known for their practice of wearing heavy neck rings to stretch the length of their own necks.

 

 

Riga, Latvia

 

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Beauty standards in Latvia are generally based on health and kindness. There is a strong importance on nutritional diets and physical fitness, as well as important regard for one’s manners and politeness. Many of the women have a traditional Eastern European influence to them including lighter hair and shades of blue and green eyes.

 

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

 

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Rio De Janeiro is a sunshine filled city where every day feels like summer. A recent wave of plastic surgery has swept the country, and women continue to spend more and wear less. If you’ve ever heard of a ‘Brazilian wax’, there’s not much more you need to know.

 

 

Pyongyang, North Korea

 

via Imgur

 

Beauty in North Korea, much like most other things in North Korea, is determined by the government. Only certain kinds of beauty products are allowed to be sold and used, and men and women are even reduced to certain types of hairstyles they are allowed to have. Regardless, North Korean women have a near-impossible level of beauty to match.

 

Baku, Azerbaijan

 

via Imgur

 

Although at the moment still a rather male-dominated country, Azerbaijan is still a westernized country more or less, and therefore it’s beauty standards are similar to those of the United States and Canada generally, other than the obvious fact that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

 

 

Omo Valley, Ethiopia

 

via Imgur

 

The beautiful women of Ethiopia take the waste produced by the world and turn it into unique jewelry.  Although the modern fashion world loves to claim to recycle and be all about being green, they haven’t quite come close to the work of the Omo Valley people. We have a lot to learn from them.

 

Arequipa, Peru

 

via Imgur

 

Although most Peruvian women don’t actually look like this, they often aim to have lighter skin, and straight blonde hair. The closer you are to these characteristics, the more beautiful you are considered to be in Peru.  Women from Peru tend to have darker skin, as well as dark hair.  They might not see this to be ideal, but they sure are stunning from an outsider’s perspective.

 

 

Nasir Al-mulk, Iran

 

via Imgur

 

The standards of beauty in Iran have changed greatly from what they once were. Once upon a time, obesity was seen to be the best feature of a woman – the heavier the better. A mustache was also seen to be beautiful for women. Today, however, Iranian women commonly get cosmetic surgeries such as breast implants and nose jobs to get up with societal pressure to achieve a certain look of perfection.

 

 Kathmandu, Nepal

 

via Imgur

 

Sona, pictured above is celebrating the Holi festival of colors, a spectacular Hindu gathering. This festival marks the coming of spring when good triumphs evil.  She is a classic example of Nepalese beauty, with a tanned complexion, and perfectly symmetrical face.

 

 

Pokhara, Nepal

 

via Imgur

 

In Nepal, simple is rather disregarded. The brighter, the shinier, the better.  The most colorful outfit put together with a set of jewelry is considered to be breathtaking.  The expression “less is more” doesn’t apply everywhere.

 

Chisinau, Moldova

 

via Imgur

 

Although beauty standards around the world vary, this girl from little-known Moldova, pictured above represents nothing but pure beauty, kindness, sincerity and all the positive qualities a woman should have.

 

 

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

 

via Imgur

 

It is common for nomadic Mongolians who live in the countryside to still have blushed red cheeks somewhat.  This trait, however, is slowly disappearing with more and more Mongolians moving into the cities. Another common Mongolian beauty tradition is long braided hair, and attire is also given a great deal of importance in the culture.

 

Cali, Colombia

 

via Imgur

 

Colombian women tend to be quite slim, especially in comparison to those from Western countries. This can be attributed their diet, which consists of a lot of fruit, and is low in fat and processed foods.  Many Colombians, not only women are health conscious and have low percentages of smokers.  It is also common for women to dress up very nicely any time they go out.

 

 

Shiraz, Iran

 

via Imgur

 

Iranian women are very conscious about the way they look, both in their beauty and in the way they dress. Even the fact that the plastic surgery rate is rather high in comparison to other countries say a lot about the culture. For many, it can even be said that they are obsessed with their appearance.

 

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

via Imgur

 

Unlike most other cultures, the unibrow is in fact considered beautiful in Tajikistan. This small central Asian nation is filled with beautiful mountains, terrifying roads, and women with unibrows.  They can be seen on both girls and women in both the capital city, Dushanbe, as well as in other smaller villages and cities.

 

 

Little India, Singapore

 

via Imgur

 

In Singapore, the fairer the skin, the better. The larger the eyes, the better. Many women wear fake eyelashes to have their eyes appear bigger, as well as rimmed contact lenses and a lot of makeup.  In terms of hair, soft, smooth, and long flowy hair is considered to be the ideal look in Singapore, as well as a slim face.

 

Timisoara, Romania

 

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Many Romanian women have a truly remarkable appearance and unique charm that has made them known across the globe. Today, they are seen to be mostly slightly dark skin, often with curly dark hair, high cheekbones, thin lips, and brown eyes. This combination runs nothing short of beautiful.

 

 

Xiahe, China

 

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In China, the standard of beauty is rather narrow and does not leave a lot of room for different looks. Chinese society believes that for a woman to be beautiful she must be thin and have very smooth and light skin. A high forehead, long eyebrows, and a small mouth are understood to be the ideal Chinese woman.

 

Cuenca, Ecuador

 

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Woman of Ecuador are best known for their dark features, and more voluptuous body types, especially so compared to those of North America. They’ve got a bold, South American look that so powerful it could kill.

 

 

Mexico City, Mexico

 

via Imgur

 

Beauty is constantly being re-defined in Mexico over the centuries and throughout history. For the most part, the past few years has understood Mexican beauty to involve thick, dark curls, bold red lipstick, and thick eyebrows.

 

Mumbai, India

 

via Imgur

 

Mumbai might as well be known as the “beauty” capital of India. There is a heavy influence from Bollywood, and women are often inspired to look and resemble the Bollywood actresses they see on screen. Thick, dark hair and golden tones are two of the most common beauty practices in the region.

 

 

Cape Town, South Africa

 

via Imgur

 

One of the biggest beauty trends sweeping through Cape Town, South Africa is chemically straightening one’s hair. Curly hair is often viewed as unkempt and slobbish, so women spend tons of money and time taming their curls for the ultimate straight-hair look.

 

Saint Petersburg, Russia

 

via Imgur

 

Russia typically has a very traditional culture. The standards of beauty for women are relatively high compared to other westernized countries. Women rarely leave the house without putting on makeup, and a well put-together look represents wealth and civility.

 

 

Lisbon, Portugal

 

via Imgur

 

Women in Portugal are serious about caring for their skin. It is common for most women to have some sort of daily skin care routine including cleansing, moisturizing, anti-aging procedures, and of course, sunscreen application. They also prefer to go easy on the makeup and typically go for the “naked face” look. 

 

Lima, Peru

 

via Imgur

 

Many women in Lima struggle with positive body image as the ideal “mas blanco” (striving for “whiter” skin and lighter hair) mentality directly contrasts the natural beauty seen in the women of Lima. Traditionally, Peruvian women have dark hair and dark skin, but women are constantly seeking to look like the “ideal” version of beauty.

 

 

Havana, Cuba

 

via Imgur

 

Havana, Cuba is one of the most richly diverse cities on the planet. This has created a unique feeling of equality throughout the citizens of Cuba, and this mentality also influences the standard of beauty for women on the Island. There is no single example of “beauty” in Cuba, as beauty is defined by the culture in many different ways. Women are encouraged to be authentic, and it never hurts to show off a bit of attitude.

 

Auckland, New Zealand

 

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Standards of beauty for women have evolved greatly in recent years. The culture used to be heavily based on superficial beauty practices, but women (and men) have been rejecting this concept for the past couple of decades. These days, beauty standards in Auckland could be described as “practical and close to nature.”

 

 

New York, USA

 

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Beauty standards in the United States vary greatly depending on the specific town, city, or region. New York City has some of the broadest standards of beauty around the world, and women are embraced for their natural beauty, confidence, and especially their attitude. The first rule of beauty in NYC is to love yourself, and the world will follow.