Beauty Perceptions Around the World

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Many men and women have probably asked themselves the question “What is beautiful?” And while everyone has their own idea of what this word means, you may not realise that the meaning of beautiful changes from country to country, and in different cultures. What the perfect body and face looks like really does depend on who you ask!

In an attempt to break down the beauty barriers, we take a look at just a few different perceptions of beauty; at home and beyond. What’s your perception of beauty?

You just have to look at when Journalist Esther Honig sent her picture to graphic designers around the world, asking them to make her ‘beautiful’, the evidence was all there. 


In most Asian countries, the colour of the skin is the main feature which defines their standards of beauty. The ‘ideal’ woman certainly doesn’t use sun beds - the Asian woman is appreciated for a lighter, perhaps porcelain skin. Alongside this, the dark and thick hair will shine, and a powerfully bright red lipstick won’t go amiss. Forget contoured curves and bronzer, and even more so, bodily curves.

When one freelancer from China altered photos to make one man and one woman more ‘beautiful’ the people were almost unrecognisable. They made the man much taller, and the woman was significantly smaller.

Can you believe in China the A4 challenge exists, where women aspire to have a torso the width of an A4 paper sheet?


We have plenty of knowledge of what the ideal American man and women looks like, mostly from the media. Society has noted celebs such as Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian as just two of the ideal images of beauty.

When two designers from the US edited original photos of one man and woman, they made both subjects much thinner. The man was given a more muscular physique and the woman was awarded with a thigh gap.

The ideal female body according to American standards typically goes more towards a toned, tanned body which is long and slim but hourglass. In terms of facial features, modern Americans are attracted to a well-defined face, a small button nose and defined cheeks and jaw structure.

This view could be changing, with plenty of celebs focusing on having bigger assets and even many celebs such as Alicia Keys embracing a more natural look.

The UK

20% of the women in the UK say they have high body esteem according to the 2016  Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report.

The UKs ideal body image has thinner legs and arms, as well as a flatter stomach. Women with fuller lips, a slimmer face, larger eyes, and higher cheekbones are considered as being more attractive, and men with more rugged and masculine faces are again seen as being much more attractive. And don’t forget about the UKs obsession with tanning. In fact, Liverpool is the most tanned city, with over 60% of women applying self-tan at least 5 times a month.

Some well-known faces that live up to the expectation of a thin face, big lips and chiselled cheekbones include Keira Knightley and Cheryl Tweedy.

You can see what is deemed to be the ‘epitome of beauty’ according to British people here.

From the UK designers which touched up photos of a man and woman, they didn’t care much about muscle definition, but more about making both the subjects thinner.


African beauty is about taking pride in your body, with a big phenomenon about being curvaceous. Their culture stems from ethnic traditions that emphasise how you should embrace the human form.

There are many different cultures and traditions in the continent, some which include body painting, body adjustments such as lip plates and piercings. However, in many parts of Africa, the definition of beauty seems to have altered from celebrating the curvaceous darker women to the opposite. Some places such as Nigeria even use bleaching products due to western society values.

African beauty is largely diverse; however, the perceptions are changing. See what some of the ladies from across the continent think in this video.

It’s no argument that beauty perceptions are altering for the better. The catwalks and fashion scene are changing- we have the likes of Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday modelling for a curvier lady and we have the likes of Stefania Ferrario showing ladies that’s its ok to be smaller with her #droptheplus movement.

Ladies such as Rebekah Marine, the ‘bionic model’ and Chantelle Brown Young are showing true empowerment in their skin and proving that the face of fashion and beauty is changing.

While there seems to be negative connotations worldwide, nearly all women (82%) around the world believe that every girl has something about them which is beautiful, and 7/10 think that there is too much importance placed on beauty as a source of happiness.

You just have to look at this report to see that we are becoming increasingly accepting of diversity within beauty, with the need to feel uncomfortable in our own skin decreasing. There is no need to change your body and skin because of what a certain society says.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 


Latest update: 07/02/2018
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