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Where I'm from we like three-nosed women...
March 4, 2010 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Other cultural concepts of beauty, like preparing brides in Fattening Rooms, that are the opposite of Western tastes?

A commercial I saw on TV has me curious - can you share with me your knowledge about cultures where the most beautiful people are not in accordance to Western thought, or common attractors that Westerners would consider a fetish?

For example: is there somewhere that a flat chest on women is the 'ideal'?

Or is there a culture where big feet are 'normal' to find appealing in women, as opposed to here, where it is considered a fetish?

Or, is there something standard - like dimples - that is revered to an extreme extent in certain parts of the world?

Anything reaching is fine to share - I am curious about all stretches of this convo!
posted by curiositykilledthelemur to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
This might be an extreme of what you're talking about but your post reminds me of the neck rings of Africa. While we do like long, slender necks in some Western cultures, I think most people here would find that a bit much.
posted by patheral at 6:40 PM on March 4, 2010


Pale and/or unsuntanned skin in parts of Asia.

I've seen it in the Indian Subcontinent and also SE Asia where pale skin colour is beautiful and a woman with a naturally dark complexion will find it more difficult to get a husband/BF.

I find it funny watching people, mostly woman but also some men, cowering from the sun as if they're vampires.

There's also whole range of skin whitening products available, almost every soap/face cream will advertise itself as 'whitening'.
posted by selton at 6:44 PM on March 4, 2010


Foot binding would be the classic example, but of course it isn't practiced anymore.

Maori face tattoos? Women and men both have them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:44 PM on March 4, 2010


Those neck rings are also on women in Thailand, called THR Karen tribe, if I recall.

Flat-chested women? Any catwalk from here to Milan.
posted by dfriedman at 6:54 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen it in the Indian Subcontinent and also SE Asia where pale skin colour is beautiful and a woman with a naturally dark complexion will find it more difficult to get a husband/BF.

So true - many grocery stores and pharmacies in China sell "whitening" face washes and lotions with bleach in them for women who want paler complexions.
posted by sarahj at 6:57 PM on March 4, 2010


is there somewhere that a flat chest on women is the 'ideal'?

You don't always have to look to other cultures - other historic times will do. In the 1920s women really strove to create a flat-chested and narrow-hipped 'boyish' look, a marked contrast from the voluptuous and exaggerated Gibson Girl figure that preceded it in Edwardian fashion. In fact, in the American 20th century alone the 'ideal' female silhouette has changed so often you could almost find everything you need right there.
posted by Miko at 6:58 PM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Interesting piece about the desirability of a skin fold above the eyelid in the author's Korean culture.
posted by Miko at 7:01 PM on March 4, 2010


In Japan crooked teeth are not a bad thing. (slightly NSFW)
posted by Iron Rat at 7:08 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Several cultures in Southeast Asia found black teeth attractive and women dyed their teeth, even filed them to points. The Ainu in Japan preferred their women with a big, black mustachioed tattoo around their mouth. Sexy.
posted by Foam Pants at 7:11 PM on March 4, 2010


As an aside, women with big feet tend to have an easier time in childbirth.
posted by mareli at 7:28 PM on March 4, 2010


It really isn't complicated or mean or anything. Just look at a society and see what the common people look like. Those who aspire to stand out will choose the opposite. So if you live in a poor country where only the rich can afford to be fat, then fatness will be valued. If the standard rich person uniform is a suit, Steve Jobs will walk around in jeans and tennis shoes to show that he's so rich/powerful/creative that he doesn't have to follow the trends.
posted by gjc at 7:52 PM on March 4, 2010


The Egyptian mummy cases have very long feet. These are idealized. - pretty much all the female ones I've seen seen, whether they died at 15 or 80, are portrayed as young and beautiful. So I assume that long feet (also hands) were considered somehow desirable. I get great comfort from this. I wonder if it was easier for them to find shoes in their size...
posted by Salamandrous at 5:58 AM on March 5, 2010


One day a Brazilian friend said, "I need to ask you a question. It's a little embarrassing but I just want to know."

"Okay," I said, wondering where this was going.

She sheepishly asked, "Is it true...um...that American men...um...like big breasts?"

It's all about the backside here. Breast reduction is much more common and so are butt implants. It was unfathomable to her that American men are more into breasts than anything else.
posted by wallaby at 8:11 AM on March 5, 2010


My friend moved from Hawaii (be as tan as you can) to Japan (be as pale as you can) to New York (where I met her) where... I'm not sure where the standard for tan-ness lies.
posted by MesoFilter at 2:47 PM on March 5, 2010


As an aside, women with big feet tend to have an easier time in childbirth.

Not true. Foot size has no correlation with pelvic inlet size or ability to labour.

Blackened teeth for geishas immediately came to mind and I did hear (ages ago, probably non-reputable source) that one of the issues with heterosexual HIV infection cases in Africa was the preference for dry sex (to the point of using sand). Also scarification is various cultures.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:44 PM on March 5, 2010


The ancient Greek ideal of male beauty included a small penis (actually fairly safe for work, the only image is a cartoon and there's even a leaf involved).
posted by anaelith at 10:57 PM on March 5, 2010


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