Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for those of us living in Western society, we possess a stagnant and unoriginal view on beauty. Generally, a celebrity or athlete who is considered pretty or good looking will almost always be considered beautiful by our society. This does not mean that beauty doesn’t vary in other countries.
In Japan, they embrace crooked teeth whereas in Western countries that is almost always not the case. In Kenya, long earlobes are considered attractive while in Ethiopia, long and stretched lips are considered a mark of beauty.
Here are 4 unusual beauty standards that women are held up to around different parts of the world.
1. In Japan, crooked teeth are considered attractive. Women will usually pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to have their teeth be crooked or “snaggled.” Although this was made popular by pop stars, Japanese culture has long considered crooked teeth as alluring. Japanese men and women considered the “imperfect” smile child-like and endearing.
Yaeba, which literally translates to “double tooth,” is sought after by many Japanese women. The dental procedure which can range anywhere between $200 to $600 per tooth is the process whereby the upper canines are capped either temporarily or permanently. This “fanged” look is obtained when the canines are pushed forward by the molars.
There is a wide assortment of dental salons in Japan that perform this dental procedure. Women can either get their teeth capped, which is temporary, or have their teeth pushed forward which is permanent. Some dentists even provide discounts for middle-school and high-school students, but ID is required.
This may seem weird to some of us, but is there really any difference when you look at Western men and women who get cosmetic surgery to fulfill society’s conception of beauty?
2. The Maasai tribes of Kenya, located on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, embrace the beauty of long earlobes and a shaved head. The older a woman is the longer her earlobes are.
Women of the Maasai tribe will use everything from rocks, twigs, horns and even elephant tusks to stretch their ears!
Once the stretching process is finished, women will usually decorate their earlobes with beaded ornaments.
What is most interesting about the Maasai tribe is that even though Kenya is growing increasingly more modern, industrialized and influenced by Western culture, the Maasai tribe still relate back to their traditional roots. This may be one of the reasons why so many tourists want to visit the Maasai tribes when they visit Kenya.
3. In Southern Ethiopia, when a girl becomes a woman, she has to start the lip-stretching or lip-plating process. The family will help the girl stretch her lip until it reaches the desired 18 to 20 centimeters in diameter.
When it reaches the desired size, the woman will place a decorated plate in her lip which is an important tradition in marriage rituals and Southern Ethiopian culture.
Some Western tourists like to visit the Mursi tribe located in Southwestern Ethiopia to see the stretched lips of their women.
The lip plates, or lip discs, are made out of wood or clay. The origin of the lip plate is unknown but some theories suggest that it is a sign of importance, wealth and status of the women. Other researchers think that it originated as an effort to make the women less desirable to slave traders. Some have speculated that the lip disc is in proportion to the amount of dowry that a father can ask for.
4. To those of us living in Western countries where gyms, Fitbits, and even liposuctions are the norm, the fat farms of Mauritania might seem strange. Young girls are sent to fat camps where they are force-fed food in order to reach a desirable weight for marriage.
In Mauritania, curvy women and stretch marks are considered beautiful and girls are force-fed up to 16,000 calories a day (over 3 times that of a professional male bodybuilder) in order to become beautiful.
Young girls are literally forced to drink goat milk and eat oily couscous. If they fail to do so, they are beaten with a long wooden cane. Mothers force their daughters to go to these fat camps with the promise that they will “come home beautiful.”
The practice of leblouh or force-feeding, is done in order to fulfill their society’s standards. Layers of fat and stretch marks are the ideal conception of beauty. The origin of this belief was thought to be a symbol of a man’s wealth; that he had enough money and food to generously feed his wife.