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A Thousand Shades of Beauty Across the Globe

What makes a woman beautiful? Beauty is a fickle concept, forever changing and consistently unobtainable. No matter their limitations, women world-round strive to become what their cultures deem beautiful. Take a journey around the world with us to discover the ever-changing and interesting concepts of beauty.

Read on to find out what price some women pay in their never-ending search for beauty.


Similar to their Indian neighbors, Nepalese women are all about the vibrant colors and accessories. As the country becomes more modern, women are adopting a more Western style of fashion.

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Slimmer and fairer skinned women are considered the beauty standard in Nepal as is the case in most of Asia.


Greece is a country with immense history and a long-standing image of the perfect woman. Think Greek goddess. If you think that’s intimidating then image what Greek women must feel.

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Greece is all about the classic style of beauty. Greek women typically have darker hair and eye color, with their skin falling on the darker side in contrast to other Europeans.


Mexican women are under no less pressure than their northern neighbors. The standard of beauty in Mexico is spicy and it’s sexy.

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With plenty of sunshine, Mexican women seem full of energy, always ready to bust out a saucy salsa dance… well, maybe that’s a stereotype. You know what we mean. Mexican women are lively, fun and don’t hold back.


This East Asian country is heavily influenced by pop-culture powerhouse South Korea, loving the big eyes, straight hair and fair skin.

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Despite the influence, Mongolian women still hold on to some of their more traditional qualities. They are generally less keen on plastic surgery due to cultural reasons. They also love their traditional clothing and wearing their hair in braids. Due to the elevation in some areas of the country women also have naturally rosy cheeks.


Although spanning two continents, Asia and Europe, the majority of Russians reside in Eastern Europe, setting the standard for beauty nation-wide.

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Much like their beloved ballerinas, Russian women are majestic creatures. Rarely seen out of high heels, Russian women seem to have a certain natural grace. Height and slender bodies are ideal in Russia.


Japan is famous for its quirky and at times bizarre culture, and beauty goals are no exception for Japanese women.

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Geisha-like pale skin and straight jet-black hair are the epitome of beauty in Japan, however, modern-day standards are quickly moving towards resembling anime characters. Japanese women are known for having expensive orthodontic work to make their teeth more crooked. That’s right, the “snaggletooth” is all the rage in Japan. Add that to their love of big eyes, double eyelids and delightful cosplay fashion, and you have a look straight out of a manga book.

North Korea

Isolated from the outside world, North Korean women have very limited access to cosmetics. They rely heavily on their natural beauty.


Western clothing, or anything deemed “foreign,” is banned by the strict regime. Wardrobes generally consist of traditional Korean-style clothing for celebratory events and plain, modest everyday-wear. All garments are emblazoned with pins of their dear leader. Going too far to achieve beauty in North Korea can land you in a work camp, or worse.


The ideal body image for Thai women is tall and thin. Thailand boasts in its advanced plastic surgery hospitals and as most Thai women have a medium to dark complexion skin whitening is commonplace.

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Northern Thailand is also home to the exotic Kayan tribe whose beauty is not based on being large or small, but rather on the length of a woman’s neck. Starting around the age of five, girls start priming their necks with heavy brass rings, each year adding more.


German women place great value on natural and healthy beauty. When it comes to makeup, less is more. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone.

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The German’s love of the natural look as earned them some less than flattering stereotypes, many thinking that German women just have low standards. German women keep things practical.


In Italy, fashion and beauty are economic resources. As a fashion capital, women are under a lot of pressure to look like models.

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Italian women tend to have darker hair and tanned skin, but embrace diversity. As with most western standards currently, thin and large chests are in this season. Well, all seasons really.

South Korea

South Korea, like many of its Asian neighbors, has extreme beauty standards. Some might even say unhealthy standards, but then again, they rarely are.

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South Korea is home to the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world, with the most popular surgeries being eyelid and nose jobs. South Korean women are also known to bleach their skin in an attempt to get that milky-white look.


The little-known central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan is rich in culture and it shows in the beauty of its women.

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Kyrgyzstan’s nomadic past is reflected in their love of traditional clothing. Kyrgyzstani women share Asia’s love of thin, straight-haired, fair-skinned women.


To find the secret beauty of Iran, you will need to look for the most subtle details. Due to the government’s strict Islamic regulations, women must be fully covered, apart from the face. Modesty is the Iranian woman’s key to beauty.

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With their faces in focus, women place special attention to their makeup and noses. Currently, rhinoplasty is all the rage. Some women even place faux bandages on their noses just for others to think they’ve had work done. Some less conservative women will show off part of their hair and also dress-up their clothes with bright colors or captivating patterns.

According to Iranian law women must cover their hair, or face the legal consequences. A sign at Khomeini International Airport welcomes citizens and guests alike with the warm greeting: “Respected Ladies: Please Observe Islamic Dress Code.” Iran’s “morality police” sweep the streets to ensure the laws are obeyed.

New Zealand

The island nation of New Zealand has highly westernized standards of beauty, but it’s the island’s native Maori population that makes it interesting.

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The Maori are a Polynesian people and their standards of beauty are quite unique. The ultimate sign of beauty for the Maori are blue lips and tattooed chins.


Ethiopian beauty is a unique creature in itself. In a country moving towards modernity, Ethiopia is still well-grounded in its culturally rich past.

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Traditional Ethiopian clothing is still widely popular and hair is usually braided. Some of the most interesting beauty standards lie within the tribal societies who have customs of facial tattoos, lip-stretching and body scarification.


The Chinese are all about the big eyes, petite figures, pale skin, and face shapes. We’re not sure what the difference between a melon seed face and a goose egg face is, but the Chinese take it very seriously.

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Traditionally, the Chinese would even go to the extremes of breaking girls’ feet and binding them together with cloth so the bones healed back incorrectly, making the foot extremely small. This practice is now thankfully illegal and whatever you do, do not search for pictures! You have been warned. The Chinese also have a procedure for leg lengthening, it can add a few inches but it’s likely the most painful thing ever.


Sweden recently underwent a government supported revamp of what ideal beauty is in order to promote personal health. The initiative seems to be working.

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Swedish women have taken a step away from the dangerously thin looks of the past and moved towards a healthier standard. Swedes tend to be quite tall and on the blonde-side, due to the climate fake tanning is all the rage. The sporty fashion look is pretty popular as well.


The African nation of Kenya is a melting-pot of various ethnic groups and each has a very distinct style of unique beauty. Making it seemingly impervious to the stereotypical Western image of a beautiful woman.

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Dark skin and shaved heads are in vogue Kenya. Among the more tribal people stretched earlobes and tons of piercings are also popular. Some women even remove their two middle teeth to achieve the ultimate beauty.


Maybe it’s something Pablo Escobar put in the water, but Colombian women are in a league of their own when it comes to beauty.

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Colombians are curvaceous and not afraid to show it off. It’s not uncommon for women to have plastic surgery done on their breasts and buttocks, even as young as 16. Happy belated quinceañera?


For Myanma women, as is the case for much of Asia, pale skin is associated with wealth, status, and beauty.

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Myanmar is also home to the exotic Kayan tribe whose beauty is not based on being large or small, but rather on the length of a woman’s neck. Starting around the age of five girls start priming their necks with heavy brass rings, each year adding more. These rings can end up weighing over 20 pounds all put together.


Read on to find out how big is beautiful.


In this African nation, big is beautiful and stretch marks are sexy. While this sounds quite body positive, it isn’t.

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Around the age of five Mauritanian girls are sent to camps in the desert to begin the “fattening process” where they are force fed a diet of 16,000 calories a day and physical activity is limited. This results in serious health complications for many women. Child abuse is frowned upon by the Mauritanian government, but the fattening process has never been outlawed.


Tibetan women have a very natural, earthy beauty. These women live at the highest elevation in the world, and it shows.

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Due to the extreme elevation, Tibetan women have naturally rosy red cheeks and are physically stronger, especially their lungs and hearts.


Due to its location, Turkey’s beauty standards are in constant struggle between Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Never knowing exactly what to accept and what to reject.

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As such, Turkish women enjoy a variety of different types of beauty. From the traditional and religious, all the way to the modern and showy. Turkey has it all.

West Coast/Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to the silver screens of Hollywood and you had better be camera-ready to meet the beauty standards in this harsh city.

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People in this city seems to have an endless flow of cash to support their plastic surgeries and designer label addictions.


Plastic surgery is everywhere in Brazil and the price of beauty is sky-high. In Brazil’s mostly tropical climate, clothing is minimal and you better be ready to let it all hang out.

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Brazilian women love the sun and that lifestyle takes a lot of prep work. If you’ve ever experienced a Brazilian wax, then you can partially understand the pain of beauty in Brazil.


In the fashion capital of Paris, expectations are high. Full of romance, runways and supermodels, the pressure is intense for women to fit into a certain look.

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France has been in a battle with the overly thin model look, which drives many women to eating disorders. The French often choose style over comfort and pay the price for it. Thinking about taking the dog for an early morning walk in your pajamas? Not in France, you won’t.


This central Asian republic embraces its nomadic past which is reflected in the country’s fashion. Tribal patterns are all the rage. While Tajikistan is an Islamic country, it prefers it’s traditional, less conservative dress.

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Tajikistan is wholly unique due to its embracement of the unkempt, furry unibrow. For those who do not have a naturally furry brow, there are plenty of products in Tajikistan that can help. Some women even go so far as to draw their eyebrows together.


English beauty ideals place emphasis on the face, due to the weather, women wears layers most of the year. Though that doesn’t detract from the pressure to be thin.

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As a fashion capital of the world, English women are always on top of the latest trends and high-end labels. Due to the lack of sunlight, the ideal skin tone is more of a tanned look.


Indian beauty is one of striking bold colors. Indian women don’t hold back when choosing the colors of their sarees and lenghas.

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Accessories are also a must. The more the merrier. Bangels, necklaces, bindi, nose rings, Indian women pull out all the stops on their way to exceptional beauty.


Much like their Swedish neighbors, the Fins have taken to the gyms in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles. Leading to sporty fashion styles.

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Finnish women are under constant pressure to enhance themselves, making blond blonder and brunette more brunette, chests larger, butts larger, etc.


This Eastern European nation keeps things real in terms of beauty standards. Romanian women are all about the sport and exercise, keeping their bodies natural and in shape. Romanian women seem to always be full of energy. Maybe that’s why they’re so good at gymnastics.

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Apart from sports, Romanian women know how to cook. Not like in a sexist way… but in a balanced diet with fresh ingredients, staying healthy kind of way. They also shy away from excessive make-up, making them look more down to earth.


This coastal country at times can seem like one big beach, and yes, Portuguese women love the sun. Portugal is all about the tanned skin, dark hair and curvy bodies.

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The pressure to obtain the perfect beach body is on for Portuguese women. Instead of hitting the gym Portuguese women love to hit the sports. Portugal is soccer crazy.

East Coast/New York

New York is arguably the fashion capital of the world and one of the most expensive cities to live in, so yeah, standards are higher than those skyscrapers.

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As America is such a melting pot of cultures it’s hard to point out a specific look. Apart from the standard western love of thin waists and large breasts, being blonde never hurts. With all those people living in one spot you better stand out from the crowd in order to be noticed.

Amazon Rainforest

Hidden deep within Brazil’s Amazon rainforest lies the women of the Amazon tribes. Some remain uncontacted, unaware of the outside world.

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These are women who use what nature provides them. From grass skirts and coconut bras, these women live off the land.


Indonesia is a multicultural nation, situated in the biggest archipelago in the world with more than 17,000 islands. Recently beauty standards have taken a notable shift from the traditional to the more Hollywood-style look.

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While slowly going out of fashion, tribal people in Indonesia are known for stretching their earlobes, sharpening all their teeth into vampire-like fangs and body tattoos.


Australian women are all about the sun, beach and surfing. They are known for loving the outdoors and play sports.

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All that activity, of course, keeps them in great shape for the beaches. Which based on the climate is most of the year.

Saudi Arabia

In the highly conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, women find every opportunity to express their beauty. When only your hands and eyes are seen and your pre-selected outfit is black, you don’t have many options.

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Saudi women are all about the eyes. Think “stopping a man with one look” and take it to the extreme. Saudi women also style up their beauty with elaborate purses and shoes.

Source: Mihaela Noroc, The Atlas of Beauty

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