If you need any more proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, these captivating photos are it. Standards for attractiveness and physical appearance change from country to country, and what you might think is off-putting, others might consider stunning. So keep that in mind as you scroll through these rare photos depicting beauty standards and trends worldwide.
Tattooing Your Gums - Senegal
It's no secret that tattoos are pretty popular in various places around the world. In New Zealand, they prefer to have them on their lips and chins; in India, they like to have Henna tattoos on their hands and feet; and in Senegal, they like to tattoo their gums. Women in Senegal think tattooed gums give them a more unique and beautiful smile, and so it's become a common practice.
It seems pretty painful to tattoo your gums, and we imagine you have to avoid eating or drinking for a bit. So we have no doubt the women doing this are pretty awesome.
Facial Tattoos - New Zealand
Tattoos have been pretty popular worldwide, but in many places, they are reserved for the parts of the body from the neck down. That is not the case in the Māori tribe of New Zealand, where facial tattoos are prevalent and a sign of beauty. Each and every tattoo has its own meaning and significance while also indicating a woman's position in the tribe and which tribe she belongs to.
It's almost like wearing a name tag right on your face everywhere you go. It must be convenient but also sometimes frustrating to have everyone know everything about you at first glance.
Stained Teeth - China
Did you think that perfectly white teeth were considered beautiful everywhere in the world? Think again! In some rural areas of China, the opposite is true. Not only do they not encourage you to brush your teeth to keep them nice and white, they even go so far as to encourage dark and blackened teeth. There are certain tribes that dye their teeth a blackish color in order to appear beautiful.
Dyed teeth can also mean that a woman is married, and it is a common custom in some tribes. At least they never have to be bothered with brushing their teeth again!
Red Skin - Namibia
People's skincare routines and beauty standards for their skin also vary from region to region. Now you can see what is oftentimes considered beautiful in places in Africa. Within the Himba tribe in Namibia, people want their skin to be redder. As their skin is oftentimes not naturally red-toned, they have created a paste that is applied to the skin daily.
This paste, made from clay and oil or fat, is actually used to protect their skin from the powerful sun. So they have essentially made sunscreen (and its skin-staining capabilities) fashionable.
Eyeball Implants - Netherlands
Have you ever heard of an extraocular implant? It is not a very common term, and if you don't live in the Netherlands, you probably have no idea what this is without doing a Google search. But don't worry; we got you: an extraocular implant is a surgical procedure that implants a small piece of molden platinum into the eye of the person. You can even choose whatever design and shape you want.
Although you have probably never seen or heard of something like this before, if you head over to the Netherlands, don't be surprised by the little shapes in people's eyes.
Extra Long Locks - India
Long hair is valued in many different cultures around the world. It is often considered a sign of true beauty and feminism. In India, in particular, long hair is very much valued. Rooted in the Hindi religion and spirituality, the trend of long hair has caused many women to grow their hair to extreme lengths. Oftentimes hair is grown out just to be donated to a temple as a spiritual offering.
This lady seems to be competing with Rapunzel when it comes to her hair!
Stretched Out Earlobes - Masai African Tribes
The love of earrings is pretty universal. There are not many cultures that exist that don't have some form of ear jewelry that is popular. In many African tribes, however, they take things to the next level. Instead of just appreciating the fashionable earrings, they actually make an effort to stretch out the ear lobes with earrings. The Masai tribe in Eastern Africa is famous for their very, very elongated earlobes.
The elongated earlobe is actually seen as a status symbol for many women in the Masai tribe. The bigger the earlobe, the higher social status you can obtain.
Large Nose Plugs - India
Jumping to India, we're looking into what is considered beautiful within the Apatani tribe. Modeled by this stunning woman, you can see that they value something called a nose plug. It is almost like a piercing or a gauge that is inserted into the nostrils. It can be on one side or both, and it can be of varying sizes (but the bigger, the better).
This is sort of similar to the earlobe stretching in Africa. If you remove the nose plug, there will probably be a large gaping hole similar to the earlobes in African tribes.
Stick Piercings - Brazil
And here you have the latest in piercings from around the world. Although it is somewhat similar to the long cheek piercing you saw in Thailand, it is quite different. Women of the Yanomami clans, which can be found in the rainforest of South America, are known to have a unique way of showing beauty. They are pierced with multiple sticks that stick out (for lack of a better word) from their mouth area.
It seems pretty cumbersome to have these sticks constantly protruding as you are going about your daily business, but it wouldn't be the most uncomfortable beauty feat on this list.
Larger Booties - USA
It's funny to see how trends can change so quickly in society. One second the beauty standard is that flat bottoms are all the rage (in the 90s, it was the flatter the better), and then just a few years later, the exact opposite is true. Now in the USA, most people are striving to increase the size of their lower half, with inspiration from Kim Kardashian and the whole Kardashian clan.
More than just a big bottom, it is also stressed to have a small waist. The age-old hourglass shape has replaced the pencil shape that was popular in the 90s and 00s.
Stretched Necks - Burma
Want a neck as long as a giraffe's? Although you might've never considered this a possibility, in many parts of the world, it's one of a woman's most desired beauty traits. If you were not born lucky enough to have a naturally elongated neck, and you live in a place like Burma, there are neck stretching devices (like the jewelry in the picture) that can help you.
This is also fairly common in many African tribes as well. Long necks are known to be a sign of beauty and a very desirable trait for women.
Larger, Shapely Noses - Afghanistan
Although most of the world is leaning towards a very specific nose shape as their standard of beauty, Afghanistan is embracing the local look and encouraging people to keep their larger and more shapely noses. Not everyone wants the same small button nose that is popular in many cultures at this time. Afghani women are the exact opposite and sometimes even try to get surgeries to make their noses even larger.
It's funny how the idea of beauty can be so different in different places around the world. Kudos to Afghanistan for embracing the natural beauty look for most of their people!
Intentional Scars - West Africa
In most parts of the world, people try to hide their scars. If they have an accident that leaves a mark, they usually will do everything in their power to cover it up so no one can see that anything happened. However, in some parts of the world, things are very different. In many African tribes and New Guinea, it is common to scar yourself intentionally. These scars are considered marks of beauty.
These scars are most commonly found in men and are a way to show strength and proof that you are a warrior. They are most certainly never hidden from anyone.
Hair Everywhere - France
In recent years the common Western beauty standard has become that removing almost all body hair is the definition of beauty. However, some countries ignore this trend and stick with their own beauty. In some European countries, most famously France, it is common for women to leave most of their natural body hair intact (just like men do). Underarm and leg hair does not need to be removed for women to be considered beautiful.
This one is so nice that it tempts us to move to France! Imagine never touching a razor again - it sounds like heaven to us.
Keeping on Extra Weight - Mauritania
Diet culture has been a popular pressure throughout the world for quite some time now. Although the pressure to be extremely thin has decreased in the past few years, most cultures are still not pressuring weight gain. That is, with the exception of Mauritania. In Mauritania, it is encouraged to have some extra weight. In fact, the more, the better. It is a sign of wealth and good fortune there.
If you are very thin in Mauritania, people might actually think that you are very poor and don't have access to enough food. Weight means wealth, and people expect you to show it off.
Sharpened, Pointy Teeth - Indonesia
Teeth can make or break a smile according to some beauty standards. The most commonly known teeth beauty standard is white, straight, and clean. However, that is not the standard in all places in the world. In Indonesia, they have a unique choice of tooth beauty. For them, the sharper the tooth, the more beautiful the look. As this is not very common to be naturally occurring, most women file their teeth to get them to look like this.
Even though it can be painful to file your teeth to a point and painful to use your teeth daily, it is still pretty standard in Indonesia.
Fake Tans - USA
Having bronzed or tanned skin has become quite popular in the West. People are known to spend hours in the sun just to get a little bit of a summer glow. However, they may have taken things a little too far in the 2000s when fake tans became all the rage. Spray tans, tanning beds, and excessive amounts of bronzer became a necessity for everyone.
The most interesting aspect of this trend is that most of the time, it was pretty obvious that the tans were fake as they did not look very realistic.
Untouched Unibrows - Tajikistan
When it comes to Western beauty standards, it is usually the less hair, the better. Hair removal is commonplace and can occur over the entire body. People are also known to spend hours shaping their eyebrows and ensuring no hair is out of place. In Tajikistan, that is not necessarily the case. People there value excess facial hair, especially when it comes to eyebrows. If you have a unibrow, you could just be the belle of the town.
This beauty standard is for both men and women, as they both strive for the full unibrow. Young children are known to even pencil in a unibrow if they do not already have one.
Plastic Surgery Bandages - Iran
Most people in the world don't want to let anyone know when they have gotten plastic surgery done. They like to keep things very hush-hush and on the down low. However, in some places like Iran, they want to show off their plastic surgery bandages. Instead of hiding in their rooms for weeks after a procedure, they boast the bandages with pride everywhere they go. That's pretty surprising, isn't it?
This is particularly the case with nose jobs in the country, as they are extremely common for both men and women. Many people want straight noses when they are born with the opposite, so they get surgery.
Pierced Cheeks - Thailand
Piercings of all sorts are pretty common all throughout the world. Ear piercings are the most common, but there are also bellybutton piercings, nose piercings, and so much more. In Thailand, they have a special type of piercing that is popular for both men and women: the cheek piercing. Although it looks quite painful, especially depending on the size of the piercing (and what is portrayed in this picture), it is still not uncommon.
The cheek piercing is also used to show religious devotion. Although it is not exclusive to religious people, it is a common sign among them.
The Pear Shape - Brazil
Most people dread the idea of being considered to have a pear body shape. It is often demonized in Western media and seen as not beautiful. However, that is not the case in Brazil. The pear shape (also known as the guitar shape there) is considered the ideal body shape to have, and everyone is striving to achieve that. People want to have larger bottoms and smaller chests.
As in many countries, being overly thin is not a sign of beauty but rather a sign of poverty. They think that if you are thin, you are malnourished and probably poor.
Crooked Teeth - Japan
Although perfectly straight teeth are a sign of beauty in many places around the world, in Japan, things are a little bit different. Braces are not the norm there, and often people will leave their crooked teeth alone and embrace them. Crooked teeth are considered cute and sweet, and countless people in Japan would do anything to misalign their perfectly straight teeth. Maybe they need to come up with a company for reverse braces.
It really could be an excellent business opportunity to help people get their crooked teeth back or at least they can eliminate the need for retainers. If you had braces in the past, you could just let your teeth go back to their crooked ways.
Unnaturally Wide Eyes - Parts of Asia
Perhaps due to the overwhelming pressure of Western beauty standards on the rest of the world (Hollywood is partially to thank for that), many Asian countries have developed a desire to have bigger, more Western-shaped eyes. South Korea and Japan, along with many other countries in Asia, value bigger eyes and have made it a very desirable feature. This is also a hard trait to change if you are not born with it.
Some surgeries allow people to change the shape of their eyes to make them appear larger, but they are expensive and not very common.
Larger Foreheads - Parts of Africa
In most cultures, beauty standards make people terrified of a receding hairline that will result in a high or big forehead. But in many African tribes, that is not a concern at all. If your hairline starts to recede, all the better for you! This is actually considered one of the top most beautiful features a person could have. Some people go so far as to force the higher forehead.
Many tribal women will remove portions of their hair to make it look like they have a more prominent or higher forehead. They are known to remove entire sections of their hairline intentionally.
Body Paint Made of Chalk - Ethiopia
Have you ever wondered what it would look like to design interesting pictures and paint your body with white chalk? Although the answer is probably no, there are some tribes in Ethiopia that do this commonly. White chalk body paint is common in the Caro tribe in Ethiopia. Both men and women are known to decorate their bodies with these spider web-like motifs to present themselves as the most beautiful in the village.
It seems like a pretty fun job to be the local village artist who paints these designs on everyone. If you are rude to them, you will get the ugliest design.
"Glass Skin" - South Korea
Skincare and a wrinkle-free face are pretty much valued in every culture. Women (and men) throughout the world buy countless creams and spend hours on skincare routines to keep their skin looking young and fresh. In South Korea, they take things to the next level in the strive for "glass skin." What is glass skin, you might ask? Is it the most flawless version of skin that is also shiny and translucent?
In order to maintain and achieve this level of perfect skin, women are said to implement a ten-step skincare regimen. That sounds not only time-consuming but expensive!
Uber Pale Skin - China
In case you have ever seen people from China walking around with a sun umbrella on a hot summer day, this beauty standard may be the explanation of why. In China, unlike many Western countries, people want pale skin. The paler, the better. Sun tans are not popular and are even avoided at all costs. They even go to the next level by selling beauty products with a light bleaching agent in them to keep the skin light.
Although some people might go so far as to use bleaching skin products, most Chinese people will just try to stay out of the sun, use a sun umbrella, or wear a mask to keep that pale skin glow.
Turmeric-Stained Skin - India
If you have ever visited India, it is unlikely that you missed the insanely large amounts of turmeric that were found everywhere. Whether it is in your food or on your skin (as is common), it can be found everywhere. What you probably also noticed is that it stains everything and very badly. If you spilled a little bit of your turmeric rice, there was no getting it out; your shirt would be yellow forever.
Imagine that same concept on your skin. It is very popular in India to do face masks with turmeric, which inevitably leaves the skin stained a little yellow. However, don't worry, because this is actually considered beautiful!
Shaved and Bald Heads - Parts of Africa
Different lengths of hair can be considered beautiful and trendy depending on the place and time period. In some places in Africa, the most beautiful hairdo is the one where all the hair is shaved off. A bald head is a sign of beauty and is oftentimes considered more beautiful than those with long hair, braids, or fancy hairdos. It certainly makes for easier hair upkeep on the day-to-day.
It must be nice if this is also relevant for men. Those who are balding don't need to worry about trying to find preventions and solutions to their balding heads.
Rosy Under Eyes - Japan
Until the rise of Gen Z, discolored under eyes were considered one of the worst things a person could have. They meant that you were tired or not in your best health, and people would spend ages trying to ensure that any discoloration was completely covered. However, in Japan, they actually consider reddish or rosy under eyes as a beautiful feature. Women even put blush there to obtain the sought-after look.
This makeup look is literally known as the "sickly" look in Japan. Lucky for all the people who are actually sick who don't need to bother putting makeup on to look trendy!
Super Thick Lips - USA
In recent years (also partially thanks to the Kardashian clan), there has been a widespread trend to have extremely plump lips. The bigger, the better is clearly the case here. As most people are not born with enormous lips, botox, lip fillers, and surgeries have become very popular as people are desperate to create an enormous pout. Countless celebrities have this look which creates the overall beauty standard for the rest of society.
People have even been known to tape their top lip to the area under their nose so that they can create the look of enormous, plump, and puffy lips.
Henna Tattoos - India
Continuing on the theme of tattoos, India has their own custom that has become pretty world-famous in recent years. Henne tattoos, which are essentially temporary tattoos made from the dye of the henna plant, are very common for women, especially on special occasions. The tattoos are intricate and beautifully designed and can cover any part of the body, even though they are most common on the hands and feet.
This is a pretty nice beauty standard as it is harmless, artistic, and temporary. It's great for people who want a tattoo but can't decide on the design that they want to be permanently on their body.
Perfect Teeth - USA
Orthodontists in the US are known to have a pretty endless stream of work in line for them. There is no shortage of children that need their teeth straightened, and since perfect, straight, white teeth are so important in American culture, it's a pretty sure career choice. Unlike some of the other countries on this list, the US finds perfect, not sharp, white teeth to be the picture of beauty.
Teeth whitening and straightening are very popular in the US. People with practically perfect teeth are also known to get their teeth straightened and spend thousands of dollars on the procedure.
Heart Shaped Face - South Korea
Most cultures don't really have an ideal face shape. They will probably have general beauty standards, but a specific facial shape is not usually among the top requirements. However, in South Korea, the story is a little bit different. The desire to have a heart-shaped face is so strong that, even on a short visit to the country, you will notice that there are countless offers for surgeries that create this shaped face.
The most common way to give women this much-desired look is complete plastic surgery on their chins to give them a more pointed look, creating the perfect heart shape.
The Natural Look - France
This is a beauty standard that most people will happily get behind. Although heavy makeup may be very common in different parts of the world, and there are countless women who do not feel beautiful leaving their houses without a full face of makeup, that is discouraged in France. The natural, no makeup look is much more appreciated in France and is encouraged as the common choice for most women.
This comes from a love in French culture to embrace people's uniqueness and their natural beauty. Hopefully, this beauty standard will catch on in the rest of the world very quickly.
Thin Noses - South Korea
South Korea has quite a few particular beauty standards on this list, and here is the latest. In South Korea, the thinner your nose is, the better. Along with the double eyelid and the big eyes, you might notice that many of these features are based on making themselves look more Western. The heart-shaped face obsession, however, may be specific to just South Korea and not the rest of the world.
People are known to pinch their noses in hopes of getting a thinner nose profile. Whether or not this squeezing actually works is very much debated.
General Piercing - USA
As can be seen in various different countries all around the world, piercings of all different types are quite popular. Whether it is nose piercings or cheek piercings (like in Thailand), they are usually considered beautiful. In the USA, facial piercings, in general, are pretty common and popular everywhere. Ear piercings and eyebrow piercings and nose piercings, you name it! Some people also think that it is the more, the merrier.
Although this is not a requirement to be considered beautiful in the US, it is very common, and it certainly helps to up the cool factor. Young adults often want to get piercings just to make themselves look cooler or tougher.
Double Eyelids for Wider Eyes - South Korea
If you are planning to move to South Korea, keep in mind that they seem to have some pretty strict beauty standards. Beyond the love of the heart-shaped face, they also greatly value the double eyelid. Although this may seem unnatural, it can occur naturally for some people. What is the benefit of a double eyelid? South Koreans think that by having a double eyelid, their eyes will appear wider and more beautiful.
There is even surgery available for those who want to unnaturally create this look. However, a little bit of tape is the much more common method used by most people.
Squiggle Brows - USA
If you thought that the unibrow of Tajikstan was a unique beauty standard, introducing the squiggle brow. It is unclear if people just got bored with the eyebrow trends or if they honestly think this looks nice, but either way, it did make an appearance in the US among beauty and fashion bloggers and influencers. Besides looking like an extreme amount of work, it also looks a bit like a worm above the eye.
This is certainly one of those trends that people will look back on and cringe about when they think of what they used to do just to look cool or beautiful.
Chiseled Teeth - Parts of Africa
Indonesia is not the only place that values a particular shape to the teeth of its most beautiful people. In many African tribes, the practice of tooth chiseling is quite common for women. The procedure, which is quite painful, occurs every year and makes sure that the woman's teeth are beautiful but also fierce looking. It's not hard to look very fierce once you chisel your teeth to a point!
The tooth-chiseling process, although extremely painful, shows a woman's status and makes her appear more beautiful. But who said that beauty has to equal pain?