Beauty is a subjective concept that varies across cultures and time periods. What one society considers attractive may seem bizarre or even repulsive to another. In this blog post, we will explore some of the weirdest beauty standards that have existed or still exist in different parts of the world.
- Long Earlobes – Maasai Tribes of Kenya
The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their distinctive culture and appearance, which includes piercing and stretching their earlobes to extreme lengths. They believe that long earlobes are a sign of wisdom, maturity and respect. They also decorate their ears with beads, feathers and other ornaments to enhance their beauty.
- Yaeba Teeth (Double Tooth) – Japan
In many countries, people strive to have straight and white teeth, often using braces and whitening products to achieve this ideal. However, in Japan, there is a trend of deliberately creating crooked teeth, especially among young women. This is called yaeba, which means “double tooth” in Japanese. It involves having dental caps or veneers attached to the upper canine teeth to make them stick out or overlap with other teeth. The purpose of this is to create a cute and youthful look, as well as to appear less perfect and more approachable.
- Face Tattoos – The Maori
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, who have a rich and ancient tradition of tattooing their faces and bodies. The facial tattoos, called moko, are especially important, as they represent one’s identity, ancestry, social status and achievements. The moko are created by carving grooves into the skin with a chisel and filling them with ink. The process is very painful and can take months or even years to complete. The moko are considered sacred and beautiful by the Maori people.
- Stretched Lips – Mursi Women of Southern Ethiopia
The Mursi are a nomadic tribe that lives in the Omo Valley of southern Ethiopia. They are famous for their practice of stretching their lower lips with clay plates or disks. The lip stretching begins when a girl reaches puberty, and she has her lower lip cut and a small wooden plug inserted. Over time, the plug is replaced by larger ones until the lip can accommodate a large clay plate. The size of the plate indicates the woman’s social status and eligibility for marriage. The Mursi women also adorn their lips with colorful patterns and designs.
- Kayan Long-Necks
The Kayan are a subgroup of the Karen people who live in Myanmar and Thailand. They are also known as the “long-neck” or “giraffe” people, because of their custom of wearing brass coils around their necks from a young age. The coils create the illusion of a longer neck by pushing down the shoulders and collarbones. The Kayan women wear the coils as a symbol of beauty, femininity and identity. They also believe that the coils protect them from tiger bites and evil spirits.
- Lotus Feet – China
One of the most extreme and painful forms of body modification in history was the practice of foot binding in China, which lasted for over a thousand years until it was banned in the early 20th century. Foot binding involved breaking and bending the toes of young girls under the sole of the foot, and then wrapping them tightly with bandages to prevent them from growing normally. The ideal foot size was three inches, known as the “lotus feet”. The lotus feet were considered beautiful, delicate and erotic by Chinese men, and were a prerequisite for marriage for upper-class women.
- Scarification – Ethiopia’s Karo Tribe
The Karo are an ethnic group that lives along the Omo River in Ethiopia. They are known for their elaborate body art, which includes painting, piercing and scarification. Scarification is the process of creating raised scars on the skin by cutting or burning it with various tools. The Karo use scarification to enhance their beauty, express their identity and mark important events in their lives. For example, men scar their chests to show their bravery, while women scar their torsos to attract potential mates.
- Crocodile Scars – Papua New Guinea
The Chambri are a tribe that inhabits the Chambri Lake region in Papua New Guinea. They have a unique tradition of creating crocodile-like scars on their bodies, especially on their backs and chests. The scars are made by cutting the skin with razors and rubbing ash into the wounds to make them heal with bumps. The resulting scars can vary in size and shape, and may be raised or flat depending on the technique used. The practice of crocodile scarification has deep cultural and spiritual significance in Papua New Guinea. The scars are seen as a sign of strength, courage, and resilience, and are often used to symbolize tribal affiliation or achievement. In some communities, the scars are believed to offer protection from evil spirits and other supernatural forces.