How ‘beauty’ is defined across different cultures

What does the term ‘beautiful’ really mean?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary beautiful can be defined as,

Highly pleasing to the sight; embodying an ideal of physical perfection; possessing exceptional harmony of form or colour”.

However, this is not interpreted the same way in every culture across the world. Different cultures identify different attributes and symbols for women who they see as beautiful and sexy.

  1. From the age of five, the girls of Kayan, from Northern Thailand, begin to wear brass rings around their neck. Nick named the “giraffe women” adults can wear up to 10kg of rings around their neck at one time. This old tradition sets them apart from other tribes and is seen as a sign of beauty and status.
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  1. In tribes across Ethiopia, scars on the skin of women are seen as a sign of beauty and maturity. Not showing the pain during this process proves that they can handle the pain of childbirth and it won’t bring shame to their family.
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  1. In some African and Amazonian tribes women use a clay disk to stretch their lower lip. This often occurs around the age of 16; about six months to a year before they are set up in an arranged marriage.
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  1. Feet binding was popular among women in China in the late 13th century. Having small feet demonstrated their elite status in society, and if their feet were any longer than 4-inches their prospect for marriage was considered low.
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  1. Moko is a traditional Maori tattoo that is most commonly seen on women on the chin and throat. Every moko is different, representing different meanings for each individual. Having a moko is a strong declaration to who they are and to their cultural identity.
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While these are some of the more extreme cases of beauty across different cultures, Romania photographer Mihaela Noroc travels the world to capture the diversity of beauty across the entire globe. Her project, The Atlas Of Beauty, aims to capture “natural women surrounded by their environment”.

All images below are from her Facebook Page:

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