Beauty Around the World: Traditions and Ideals

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Beauty Around the World: Traditions and Ideals

Iran

Iran is the rhinoplasty capital of the world, and both men and women embrace the procedure.  They see it as a route to ideal beauty, and a way to display their social status. Many will wear the bandages for much longer than needed, simply to display that they've received the procedure. 

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India

Brides in India will put often a mixture of turmeric, lemon and honey on their skin to appear glowing on their special day.  Many also embrace henna, and wear a kumkum (a small red dot on their forehead) to appear more attractive.

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Japan

Many women in Japan avoid the sun whenever they can, as they know the risks UV rays pose to their skin, and believe pale skin is ideal.

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Japan

Some women in Japan use chemicals and heat to permanently straighten their hair, a look preferred by many.

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Japan

Some women in Japan swear by the droppings of the Nightingale: the feces are made into a powder and mixed with soap to make a face wash.  It is said that these "bird poop facials" are what keeps some women looking young.

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France

In France, some feel that the ideal woman is very thin, and has a very natural beauty. Laura Mercier told the New York Times that she wonders why American women wear so much makeup. Women in France want to look effortlessly chic, and spend a great amount of money on beauty products to help them do so.

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Europe & Australia

Some countries in Europe, as well as Australia use an ancient ritual that might make you cringe: the use of leeches on human bodies.  These have been said to help with arthritis, muscle tension, abcesses and issues with blood circulation.  It is an ancient ritual that some individuals swear by.

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Burma

Many Kayan women in Burma will wrap brass coils around their necks while young, adding more as they age.  It is seen as the ultimate sign of female elegance and status.

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Brazil

Brazilian women, widely regarded for their incredible beauty, used to embrace the "guitar" shape: having wider hips and backside.  In recent years, however, western ideals have trickled into Brazil, making many women want to be thinner rather than curvy.  With the average weight of a Brazilian woman falling between 110-125 pounds, the culture has become obsessed with perfection, and they are the highest consumer of diet pills in the world.

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China

In China, height is seen as a sign of status, and even a prerequisite for success.  As a result, some men and women alike choose to undergo the extremely painful leg-lengthening procedure to add a few inches.

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China

Another ideal for some women in China is to have fair skin.  Women spend a lot of money to purchase skin lighteners.

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England

In England, bull semen is mixed with kateria root (an Iranian plant) and applied to hair.  It is said to benefit and revitalize damaged locks.

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South Korea

Many countries in Asia have a high rate of eye lift procedures: some Korean women choose to have this procedure done so that their eyes will appear bigger.  The procedure opens eyes, adds a crease in the eye lid, and makes them look more western.

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Southeast Asia & Thailand

As in China, pale skin is ideal for many.  It is hard to find beauty products in these countries without whitening agents.

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Taiwan

Just like in the U.S., women around the world undergo plastic surgery for their skin on a regular basis: whether it's for the coloring, wrinkles, or spot removal.

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U.S.A.

The plastic surgery capital of the world, women in the U.S. strive daily to meet its own ideals by utilizing chemical peels and botox (youthful skin), breast augmentation (the most prominent procedure in the U.S.) and liposuction.

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U.S.A. & Japan

It's all about the collagen.  Only difference? Women in the U.S. tend to inject collagen, while some women in Japan eat foods infused with it. While it's still unknown whether eating collagen helps, these women say it makes them feel better and younger.

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South America

Some parts of South America feel that snail secretions are good for your skin: from protecting skin against pollution and UV rays to helping skin regenerate.  These secretions are put in a lot of skin products!

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Turkey

Turkey isn't the only country that acknowledges the beauty benefits of small fish.  Some individuals will sit in public pools full of small fish that will nibble at their skin - exfoliating and removing dead skin cells, and even helping with skin conditions such as psoriasis.

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New Zealand

The Maori culture in New Zealand embraces facial tattoos on many of its men and women.  They are called "moko" and are a sacred beauty ritual.

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Mauritania

Parts of Western Africa go against the Western ideal of thin bodies, and find women to be the most beautiful when overweight, especially if she has stretch marks.  Though it is not as widely practiced anymore, families used to send their daughters to camps while young where they would be fed about 16,000 calories a day to achieve their ideal weight.

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Oman

Women in Oman put dried rose petals into boiling water, and rinse their hair with it.  They love the rose scent in their hair.

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Oman

Some women wear burqas in Oman for multiple reasons: one of which is to show off the beauty of their eyes.  (Another is to shield a bad hair day, should it come along!)

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Philippines

Whitening products are also popular in the Philippines, but as we learned doing our own research, some of the ingredients used can seriously damage skin. This young girl in the Philippines has joined forces with others to protest these particular products.

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Admit it: you've known someone at one point to do something weird or wacky for beauty. You may have even done something unusual yourself! Everyone has an ideal beauty they're trying to achieve, and that's true for women across the globe.

From the use of bird feces in a facial to inserting metal rods in their legs to be taller, women and men all over the world are willing to do some pretty crazy (and intense) things to feel better about their appearance. Funny thing is, these procedures and techniques aren't weird, at least not to those doing it. Just like you go to a tanning bed (tsk tsk!) or get a spray tan to look darker, some women are using lightening creams for fairer skin. It's all about what you want, and what your ideal beauty is.

Beauty varies country by country, and whether you want to be thin, curvy, fair or tan, you'll find it fascinating to see what the rest of the world is doing. Be forewarned, some of these techniques are extremely unusual, and at times disturbing (leeches, anyone?). Click through the gallery above to see beauty traditions and ideals around the world!

More from StyleList:
Beauty Myths Debunked
The 5 Most Addictive Beauty Products (And Why to Tread Lightly)
The Scary Truth About Tanning Beds
The Deadliest Beauty Products

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Sources: The Daily Beast, Oprah Magazine

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