The Changing Face of Beauty

What does it mean to be beautiful?  White?  Skinny?  Practically hairless?

These standards are silly.  Let’s appreciate the diversity of beauty and liberate ourselves from these pressures of perfection.


WireImage-Getty Images A curvy Marilyn Monroe may have once defined Western beauty, but today it's a combination of Botox, implants, diet and hair extensions--at least if you look to Hollywood. Reared on reality TV and celebrity makeovers, 43 percent of American 6- to 9-year-olds are already using lipstick or lip gloss; 38 percent use hairstyling products; and 12 percent use other cosmetics.



Murillo Medina / Latin Content-Getty Images (left): Rodrigo Coca / Latin Content-Getty Images Brazil--known for some of the most beautiful people in the world--used to revere its women for their "guitar shape," a sign of health and wealth. But in the face of an influx of Western media, Brazilian women have begun trying to reduce their hips and backsides to match the svelte and often unhealthy Western ideal. Historian Mary del Priore told The New York Times, "By 'upgrading' to international standards of beauty," Brazilians are giving up on the belief that "plumpness is a sign of beauty."



Joern Pollex / FIFA-Getty Images In parts of western Africa still beholden to traditional beauty ideals, women are considered most attractive when they're overweight and sporting stretch marks. In Mauritania, many parents send their daughters, who are often married at a young age, to camps where they are fed up to 16,000 calories a day.



Khin Maung Win / AFP-Getty Images Known as "long necks" or, more crudely, "giraffe women," the Kayan women, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma, wrap brass coils around their necks when young and add more as they age: the women’s shoulders are weighed down by the weight of the rings giving the illusion that their necks are growing--a centuries-old ritual that, in the wake of conflict in Burma, which forced many Kayans to flee to neighboring Thailand, has become one of Thailand's biggest, and most controversial, tourist attractions.


See more images from “Beauty Ideals from Around the World” at Newsweek here.

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