Oceans apart: the divergent beauty ideals of the world


Recently, a female journalist appealed to illustrators around the world with the request to ‘make me beautiful’, sending the same image of her face to 40 different artists to be Photoshopped. In Germany, her hair was given a red tint and her skin lightened, in America, her forehead was extended, and in Argentina, she was given a full face of glossy makeup.  Her experiment proves that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, as does this look at some other global beauty ideals, and the extreme measures sometimes required to pull them off.

skin pic


Skin whitening products are used across the globe; most prevalently in the Middle East, Asia and India but perhaps nowhere as commonly as in Nigeria, where it is thought as many as 77% of women use skin them. Skin whitening serum can be efficient in treating hyperpigmentation, freckles and sun damage, inhibiting surplus melanin in the skin to produce an even complexion.


While in the West we’re constantly in a state of diet, post-diet or about to diet, in this African country, big girls are aspirational and an overweight wife is a sign of prosperity. Girls are sent to fat camps to bulk up before marriage, placed on fat-heavy diets of up to 15,000 calories per day, though this procedure has begun to dwindle as people become aware of the health risks associate with obesity. Having been married before is also considered desirable in a partner, as it suggests their desirability.


Rhinoplasty is the most popular plastic surgery in Iran, and so revered as a sign of status that women will wear their bandages long after the swelling from their nose job has gone down, and sometimes even when no procedure has been performed at all!


In Japan, having a small, sharp, oval face is cherished, and pale skin is, again, favoured. Women cover up against the sun with parasols and umbrellas, and crooked teeth are also considered cute, to the extent that girls will buy prosthetic teeth and have their teeth capped to fake wonky fangs.

With so many procedures available it’s easy to see why the world is obsessed with achieving what each individual considers as perfection. However, a simple beauty regime of cleansing, toning and moisturising with cream, along with plenty of water, is all it takes to keep you looking fresh faced.


  1. I saw those illustrations, it was really interesting! We all have our own idea of beauty, much of it, in my mind, comes from the inside, but really I think if you are healthy and smiling, that is beautiful!

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