Author Archives: culturalbeauty

About culturalbeauty

I am a high school student here to receive feedback for a research project I am writting.

Nifty Nose Plugs

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Unlike my previous posts, this unusual ethnic fashion doesn’t serve the purpose of making a woman more attractive. Ironically, it serves the complete opposite. Women of the ancient Apatani tribe in India were once considered the most beautiful women in their region. Their villages were constantly raided by neighboring tribes and their beautiful women kidnapped. Thus, this traditional nose plug was born as a means to protect the women of the tribe to make them appear (a lot) less attractive to the other tribes. They also commonly tattooed their faces with a horizontal line from their ¬†forehead to the tip of their nose. This bizarre accessory no doubt served it’s ultimate goal of turning off any raider in search of a beautiful woman among the Apatani women. The tradition hasn’t been practiced by any women born after 1970 though, as the custom is quickly dying out for obvious reasons.

more about the nose plug: http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/the-weird-nose-plugs-of-the-apatani-women.html

The Perfect Smile

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As an uplifting saying goes, “a beautiful smile is your best accessory,” is a¬†message¬†to the world that beauty is not only¬†skin¬†deep, but also an attitude. To have a smile on your face, is the universal language of kindness and one of the few universal natural features of beauty. But despite this natural capability, some cultures have managed to form their own idea of the perfect teeth. In the Western world today, a radiant smile would consist of porcelain white, perfectly aligned, faultless teeth. Celebrities grace this idealism on the cover magazines, movies, and advertisement. Anybody with money and a high social status is expected to have a that perfect smile to go along with their image, so this idealism of perfect teeth has become a standard trait of beauty in the Western culture and one the majority of the world shares.

Meanwhile in Japan, a new style has emerged where women are paying to have their perfect teeth disarranged. It is said to be more attractive to Japanese men because it is viewed as endearing, and shows that a girl is not perfect, therefore making them more¬†approachable. This new trend (also known as “tooth crowding” ¬†in the U.S) is called “yaeba” in Japanese. It makes you¬†wonder that women must be pretty darn perfect over¬†there, or very appearance-conscious to¬†make an such a¬†un-Westerny alteration. Giving a whole new meaning to “imperfections are what¬†make us beautiful”, the perfect smile in Japan at the moment, is one of imperfection.

In a tribe in Indonesia, chiseled, sharp pointy teeth are seen as beautiful. Women will undergo this painful procedure not only for social acceptance and beauty, but also because they believe that it maintains balance in the body and soul. Only done with man-made tools by the tribe,  no anesthetics are used to dull the pain except green banana to bite on.

 

Tattoos, a Culture and Style

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A culture most of the Western world is familiar with, tattoos have not so much become a symbol of beauty but more of a form of expression. Since tattoos come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and have no distinct stamping ground on the body, they have become popular among society because it implies uniqueness from the rest of the world. Despite the fact that probably a little less than half of middle age people have a tattoo, it is still considered unique and special to have this permanent stamp on your body. But it just goes to show, how much people are concerned with the appearance that they show the world. This is only the most recent motivation for the tattoo though. In older days, the tattoo was not the most glamorous thing to sport by the average person, it was mostly worn by sailors, gangsters, bikers as a sign of being part of a certain group of people. With time, it probably eventually evolved into an appealing mark of macho-ness for men, and simply became trendy for women and teenagers.

Harcore enough?


In some countries however, tattoos¬†are a cultural mark where people will tattoo sometimes their entire face or body part as a sign of cultural pride and integrity. Practiced in the Maori tribes of New Zealand (the place of origin of tattoos according to¬†archaeological¬†evidence) men will get traditional tattoos representing the wearer’s ancestral importance. It is usually tattoed on the head, considered the most sacred part of the body and (obviously) bears an undeniable declaration of who you are.

Even in Africa, where ink is not particularly visible on the skin, participate in the cultural trend. They practice a form of tattooing called scarification where the skin in risen by cutting it to leave a visible scar after it heals. They make geometric patterns on the body or face which are meant it be a rite of passage; it shows age, wealth, social status and is consider a sign of beauty. This cultural tradition is still practiced many places in Africa and once again, shows the lengths we will go for a little bit of sexual appeal.

New Zealand Maori tattoo traditions further explained: http://www.newzealand .com/travel/media/features/maori-culture/maori_ta-moko-significance_feature.cf m

Curvy, Thin, or Beautiful

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The ideal waistline is another differing view of beauty. Though you could say the majority of the world may consider a slim figure more attractive and healthy looking, some parts of the world like Africa and Brazil see a voluptuous figure as a sign of fetching appeal. In Mauritania; Africa, where big is beautiful and reflects wealth and health to their generally poor population, there are such things as “fat camps” where young girls are sent by their parents to gain weight ¬†to prepare them for¬†marriage. Young girl as young as the age of 10 are force fed thousands of calories a day; more than the boys and way above the healthy normal amount of required food your body needs all for the purpose of attaining those¬†voluptuous¬†curves. In a less perturbing light,¬†Latinas¬†have always been recognized for their¬†curvaceous looks.¬†Brazilian¬†women¬†¬†traditionally thought as¬†tanned, toned, and curvy regard a well-rounded shape otherwise known as the “guitar” shape as desirable.

The generally western hemispheres could not be more polar-opposites of these countries, idea wise. A thin, slender body is viewed as a healthy look and more appealing to people. But as the world has been aware of for a while now, this beauty ideal has been over-exaggerated¬†by the media and have pressured women to have that fragile almost “beanpole” look projected by models in the fashion industry. This has led to the development of eating disorders, and an unhealthy way of living.

When thin is in..

Though appearance and social acceptance is important, you would think it should be equally important for people to be comfortable in their own skin and to live a healthy life. The world can be a beautiful place, up until the point where that beauty may controls and damage you.

“Fat camps” in Mauritania:¬†http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/news/forcefeeding-in-mauritania

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3429903.stm

The Pink Hair Phenomenon

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In the general “European/ American culture” you could say that beauty is a major controlling aspect of¬†people’s lives, the media, the¬†envied¬†fabulous life of the rich and famous,¬†trends and styles which propel consumerism. But in the fashion industry,¬†beauty is a turning wheel, constantly adjusting and changing directions. People are constantly trying to come up with something different and new to catch the audiences eye, some styles have become popular and become part of societies’ norm but some have had their short time in the spotlight. Trends come and go, but this is a recent trend which has caught a lot of eyes and attention as well as my own.

The article about the model who changed the fashion world for the moment: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/10/03/charlotte-free-katy-perry-nicki-minaj-pink-hair-hits-fashion-world.html

The Lip Plate

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Considered a sign of beauty in the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia Africa, the lip plate is worn by women daily who seek acceptance and to appear desirable to men. When the women are ready to marry, they begin the process of the lip plate by making a hole in the lower lip with a wood stick which is expanded a little everyday. Eventually, when the hole is big enough, women insert a plate and gradually the plate is replaced by a bigger plate until it has reached its full size. It is a very painful process which girls have to undergo for months, where somtimes the teeth have to be broken to insert the plate, but once suceeded, they are seen as the epitome of beauty! also, the bigger the plate, the more beautiful the woman..

The plate is a usually a sacred object and dyed and decorated according to the wearers preference. Women are also shaved, like the men, because they hate hairiness.