How The World Defines Beauty (Shocking And Revealing)

thailand beauty standard

How I Define Beauty (And You Should Too) Part 2

We are on the same page here, hopefully, with believing that true beauty is found first on the inside. If the inside is ugly, the facade of beauty will fade quickly. It is interesting how the Western World defines beauty. A collection of perfectly manicured, contoured, glowing skinned, size zero waist, unnatural women. And men. But a line is drawn in the sand as many other cultures recognize beauty in other forms. However, what is the worldwide beauty perspectives?

Lauren Jacobsen, reporting on Gender Studies, states the following:

“In various American dictionaries beauty is defined differently, but they all generally agree that it means something along the lines of being attractive, appealing, alluring, and charming. In a broad sense, it can be any or all things or even thoughts, concepts or ideas that appeal to the senses.”


asian worldwide beauty standard


In similar ways to America and the Western World ideals of beauty, Asia struggles with high standards of beauty as well.

IF YOU WERE TO CREATE THE IDEAL Asian woman, what would she look like? She would be thin, of course, and her skin would be pale, unlined, babyish in its softness and porelessness. Her hair would be thick, shiny, black or dark brown, preferably straight, and certainly long. You would be able to paint her in just two swipes of gouache, a figure as unspecific as she is iconic: a knife-slash blade of ink for her torso, a brushstroke of black for her hair.”  Read the full article here.

thailand beauty standard


In more tribal parts of Asia, such as Thailand, beauty is defined differently. In the Kayan Tribe, women with long necks are considered beautiful and elegant. Beginning at age five, the young girls of this tribe begin stretching their necks with brass rings.


Some of the more less-known views withing the worldwide beauty conversation happens with Africa. With many different climates and cultural backgrounds across the continent, images of lip bowls and brightly beaded adornments come to mind. Like any other large continent, the perceptions will vary, yet one very interesting definition of beauty comes from Mauritania.

As a desert country, food for the Mauritians is scarce. A large woman is considered beautiful because she signifies having abundance of food. In this country, size indicates one’s beauty and  status.

“Having a large wife traditionally meant that a woman is healthy enough to withstand a period of famine. From this environmental constraint, fat women grew to be the ideal of beauty, as the body mass of females in a male’s care became a criterion of social standing and wealth.” – Claire Weber

Latin America

brazil worldwide standard of beauty

Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

The culture of Brazil is another one on par with the pursuit of manufactured beauty. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree as other Latin American countries follow close by.

“Women get liposuction at 18 and breast reduction at between 16 and 22,” Dr. Ivo Pitanguy, a world-famous plastic surgeon in Brazil. “They prefer small breasts and big derrieres, whereas Americans want big chests.” – Jodi Cobb, “The Enigma of Beauty”

Arabian Countries

One of the most controversial topics in women’s beauty is the perceived limitations placed upon some Arab women with the institution of the head coverings. However, what is more interesting is how men and women generally describe beauty.

“…Mentioned certain qualities that they hoped respectable Arab women possessed, such as confidence, education, and mannerism.  Alongside these traits, a woman’s family upbringing and values is one of the most important aspects of a woman, as the focus of family remains the most dominant feature of the region.” Read more here.


Worldwide Beauty Final Thoughts

Defining beauty throughout the world is considered as diverse as the cultures themselves. It is apparent that in regions that have limited access to Western ideals of beauty tend to focus on their own traditional definitions, passed down through generations. Yet the more modernized countries are equally in pursuit of stereotypes that focus purely on the exterior and not on the interior.

Stay tuned for part three as we look at adorning ourselves is positive for the soul, but more so when it all comes off what remains is most beautiful.

And remember, beauty can be defined on the outside no matter where you live, but if you neglect to focus on the inside your pursuit of perfection will come up short.

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