Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. We all know this in theory, of course, but it’s so easy to forget. And those moments when we get obsessed with some arbitrary and unattainable standard of beauty — more curves, less curves, blonde hair, long legs, whatever — are also the moments when self-esteem falters.
As a style-minded lady with a busy life, I’m not interested in dedicating energy to self-defeating thoughts. And I’ll bet you aren’t either. So this review of bizarre beauty trends from around the world is a reset for the both us — and a reminder that we don’t need to take someone else’s standards of beauty too seriously. It’s far easier to find beauty where it already exists, right there in the mirror.
1. Crooked Teeth
In the U.S., most of us would describe the perfect smile as involving straight, white teeth. That’s why we’ll spend thousands on orthodontics, Invisalign and now Smile Club Direct to get those teeth lined up perfectly.
The story is much different in Japan, however. There, young women with too-straight teeth undergo treatment to achieve “yaeba,” also known as snaggle-tooth by Western cultures. The result is a smile featuring canines that are pushed forward, as if the molars had crowded them out.
2. Brass Neck
An unnaturally long neck is the standard of female beauty among the members of the Thai Kayan tribe. Women achieve the desired look by wearing heavy brass rings as a neck-piece from a very young age. The lengthening process begins at age four or five, and continues indefinitely. Over time, more rings are added to the neck-piece, and this slowly elongates the neck.
3. Skin Deep
Tribal tattoos have become popular in the U.S., but mostly as a form of self-expression. Among New Zealand’s Maori tribe, Ta-Moko tattoo art is an integral sign of Maoria beauty. Ta-Moko is characterized by black and dark blue patterns that are carved into the skin. Unlike a traditional tattoo, Ta-Moko leaves ridges rather than a smooth surface. Women typically wear Ta-Moko on their lips and chins.
4. All Ears
In the U.S., we can get our earlobes trimmed if they’re too big. But in the Kenyan tribe of Maasai, long earlobes are the marks of wisdom and beauty. Both men and women of the Maasai stretch their earlobes over time with weights or by increasing the size of the jewelry used in the piercing.
5. Nose Out Of Joint
In 2008, an Oprah special brought this startling revelation to the world: the people of Iran are obsessed with rhinoplasty, aka the nose job. The trend continues today, not only in Iran but also among Persian women who live in the United States.
An odd outcome of all this rhinoplasty love is that patients now leave the bandage on their nose for months after their procedure has healed. The nose bandage itself has become both a badge of honor and a status symbol.
6. Cut Teeth
In the Indonesian Mentawai culture, beauty is characterized by razor sharp teeth. To get the look, women must undergo a painful chiseling procedure. The result is a pointy, shark-like smile that is considered very beautiful and also fitting for the most prominent members of their community.
Velaterapia, or candle-cutting, hit the global beauty scene back in 2014 as a treatment for over-processed hair with split ends. The procedure involves twisting the hair and burning off the split ends with the open flame of a candle. Once the dead ends are removed, the hair is treated with a deep conditioner.
Yes, this is a thing. Apparently Gisele Bundchen swears by it.
Proponents say the flame is more precise than a pair of scissors at removing split ends. As well, the heat of the candle allows the hair cuticle to absorb the conditioning treatment more deeply.