We are very lucky here in New Zealand to have a huge variety of different cultures to draw our viewpoints from both as part of our natural heritage (the Maori) and from those who come here to make this country their home (European, Asian and African). This gives us an interesting viewpoint on how we view beauty in general. For us, it is a much more open approach as we can see the beauty in all people.
The Maori, for example, see facial tattoos on women as being the height of attractiveness with strongly colored lips and chin. While tattoos have become popular across all cultures, and Maori tattoos being a popular choice for sleeves, arms, and backs – facial tattoos are still not considered ideal by most other cultures.
So what are the more unusual beauty ideals that other cultures use as their benchmark?
The Kayan tribe in Thailand
At the age of just five, the girls of this tribe begin the process of lengthening their necks with brass rings. Those with the longest necks are seen to be the most attractive.
The women in Mauritania are encouraged to eat as much as they can to become fat. In fact, some are sent to camps to get them to do exactly that. It is felt that those who can afford to eat more, in a country where food is relatively scarce, will be seen as better wives and a status symbol.
In a country where more people have nose surgery than anywhere else in the world, women will actually show off their rhinoplasty bandages with pride. In fact, some even wear them when they do not need to. The nose job is seen as a status symbol.
This seems to be one beauty trend that has caught on across the world – elongated ear lobes. The women of the Masai use stones and other implements to make their earlobes as long as possible. Along with the jewelry they wear it is considered to be very beautiful.
Once again, skin stretching is popular here, but this time it is the lower lip. With decorated clay plates inserted, the lip becomes more than just something attractive to look at – it is a sign of sexual maturity.
Each of us is influenced by the way we are brought up. How we perceive our own beauty and that of those around us is highly influenced by what is normal for our own environment. Here in NZ, we are privileged to have some many interesting and beautiful people to set our standards by and perhaps that makes us a little more accepting of differences too.