Over time, our perception of beauty continues to change, and society’s standards of beauty are almost unrealistic for most women to meet. Throughout the world, the criteria for beauty vary from culture to culture. Some cultures have weird beauty standards that involve extreme body modifications and downright crazy rituals that women follow, which shock most of the world. These existing cultural beauty rituals that are practiced are considered normal for the locals but are viewed as strange and horrifying by the others. Many of these cultural beauty procedures are symbolic or even of religious importance, while others are merely for the benefit of the men. Here is the list of the ten most shocking beauty rituals from around the world that may fascinate, intrigue, or horrify you.
Lotus Feet in China
Foot binding is a painful beauty procedure involving wrapping young Chinese girls’ feet tightly with cloth strips and placed inside lotus-shaped shoes as to not let it grow. It is a gruesome practice which broke the women’s toes to change the size and shape of their feet. The process of creating lotus feet was uncomfortable and painful and would take around two years to complete. During the Qing Dynasty, women with lotus feet were considered higher status, attractive and were desirable to wealthy men.
The girls are also guaranteed to have a better marriage because they are considered more sexually pleasing than the ones without lotus feet. The disturbing practice usually starts with girls at the ages between four and nine, and the older female relatives are commonly first to bind the girls’ feet. The practice was outlawed in 1912 when the Western Countries colonized China that end the era of the Qing Dynasty. Even after the trend was finally banned, it is still practiced in some parts of the country.
Lip Plates in Ethiopia
In southwestern Ethiopia, the women of the Mursi tribe are known to wear lip plates to appear more beautiful and fashionable. A lip plate is a form of body modification in which clay or wood is inserted into a pierced hole of the upper or lower lip. The procedure can cause the girls tremendous pain. A few weeks later, when the wound has healed, the disk is replaced with a larger one. The process of stretching the lower lip by increasingly large disks continues until the lip is large enough to insert a lip plate.
The stretching process usually takes several months to accomplish. The larger the dishes, the more attractive the woman is to be. The Mursi women craft and decorate their lip plates to showcase their skill with pride. The lip plugs were only worn during the company of men to attract them for marriage. The practice is being performed to a young girl who is eligible to marry since she already attained puberty. Their female relatives or their mother usually accomplish this ritual. A girl who refuses to do this practice will be considered lazy and is at risk of being beaten by her mother and future husband.
Brass Neck in Thailand
In the northern provinces of Thailand, the Kayan women have a custom of wearing brass coils on their necks to create the appearance of a giraffe neck. In the Kayan Lahwi tribe, women with long necks are considered to look more attractive. Many women in the tribe are well known for wearing the golden neck coils and are referred to as the “giraffe women” to tourists. The Kayan women started wearing neck rings when they were four or five.
Over the years, more coils were being added to lengthen their neck, and the result of continuous wear make the brass coils feel like their integral part of the body. Since the Kayan women are refugees in Thailand, some of them wear brass rings to attract tourism as a means to make money. The practice of wearing brass coils was started to protect themselves against tiger attacks until it became a traditional culture. Currently, many of the Kayan women only wear a couple of neck rings and just a few practice neck lengthening.
Earlobes in Kenya
For this Maasai tribe of Kenya, both the men and women are known for their long stretch earlobes, which is a symbol of wisdom and age. The extreme body modification is also to enhance their appearance since the tribe regards beauty in high importance and part of the custom. They usually wear various heavy beaded ornaments on their stretched earlobes to increase its size and small piercings at the top of their ears.
The traditional practice of their piercing and stretching their ears is typically done by using large pieces of elephant tusks, stone, bone, wood, thorn, and even empty film canisters. Both men and women honor the custom of stretching their ears, and the practice has been with the tribe for centuries. The older members of the tribe have the most massive earlobes from having their ears weighed down for several years. Nowadays, fewer of the Masai tribe members follow this custom.
Ta Moko in New Zealand
In New Zealand, tattoos have high significance and meaning for the Indigenous Maori people. Men and women with tattooed lips, chins, faces, and skin are considered more beautiful throughout the Maori culture. These decorations of tattoos signify their cultural identity, social hierarchy, and family heritage. Despite the cultural form, another reason for the procedures is to enhance their appearance, express themselves, and to bring attention by looking different. The ancient Maori facial and body tattooing is called Ta Moko.
It is the practice of scarring and permanently marking the face and body by using small mallets or bone chisels. The procedure is a long process and extremely painful that shed a lot of blood. The Maori men mainly had markings on their faces and skins while the women had them on their lips and chins. The Maori group have been traditionally using tattoo art on their faces and bodies for decades. For the Maori men and women, the tattoo was marking the passage of their adulthood.
Teeth Sharpening in Indonesia
In Indonesia, the natives in the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra Province are known for their practice of sharpening the teeth as part of their culture. The Mentawai tribe believe women with chiseled teeth are more attractive. The practice also helps established better spiritual wellness. The ceremony of teeth sharpening is also a passage of a young woman turning into adulthood. The procedure is done by using a chisel to the teeth into sharp, narrow points.
The teeth sharpening ritual is extremely painful and was performed without any anesthetics. The Mentawai tribe has been doing this ritualized practice for hundreds of years, and Brahmin priests or other spiritual leaders mainly performed the procedure. Luckily for many young women, the teeth sharpening has become optional. Although the body modification is no longer obligatory, many husbands ask their wives to undergo this painful procedure to look more beautiful.
Fat Camp in Mauritania
In the African country of Mauritania, women who are obese are considered beautiful and more desirable. In the Fat Camps of Mauritania, many young girls are being forced to put on weight by eating up to 16,000 calories a day, and they are even given drugs to increase their appetites. In the Mauritania culture, the bigger the women, the more appealing they are. A thin girl is considered poor and inferior, while a fat girl is seen as a sign of great wealth.
The practice of force-feeding young girls is also to prepare them for marriage since the men of Mauritania are keen on having fat wives. A Mauritanian man is seen as wealthy and will be respected if his wife is full-figured. The girls who don’t finish their high-fat meals or refuse to eat or drink will be punished by having their toes squeezed between sticks, which cause significant pain. The young girls are even forced to consume their own vomits.
Facial Scarification in Sudan
Facial scarification is practiced throughout South Sudan, and the symbolic marks or patterns represent their identity to the tribe. The men of the Dinka tribe with scars on their faces signify their rite to manhood while the women with facial scars display beauty within the tribe. The boys are branded with three parallel lines, whereas the girls are marked with beautiful patterns.
The Dinka boys receive their scars during their adolescence, and those who refuse to have permanent scars on themselves will face discrimination for dishonoring their traditions. If the youths of the Dinka tribe display pain or discomfort during the ritual of scarring, they will lose face in the community and will bring shame to their family. The young boys and girls must resist the process and not show reactions during the ceremony. Due to the painful practice, many are left bleeding for hours, and others end up vomiting during, and even after the scarification process.
Crooked Teething in Japan
In Japan, women with crooked or fanged teeth are considered attractive and cute. The trend is perceived as a sign of youthfulness, and many young Japanese women have undergone dental procedures to attach their upper canine teeth permanently or temporarily with artificial canines to get crooked, fang-like teeth. This creates a more youthful and childlike feature on Japanese women in their teens and twenties. The crooked look is called “yaeba” in Japanese, which means double tooth or multilayered.
Many Japanese men find girls with imperfect smiles look endearingly cute and appealing and are more easily approachable. This trend was started by a Japanese pop idol group AKb48 that became popular and part of a dental procedure in the country. There are even celebrities that undergone this procedure and display their crooked teeth proudly. Since the attraction of yaeba is unique, several dental clinics across Japan offer a tsuke yaeba procedure. The dental procedure will be done at the cost of about $400.
Unibrows in Tajikistan
In the Central Asian country of Tajikistan, having a unibrow is considered as a highly attractive quality. The style is a popular trend for both men and women in the small country. Unlike most places, having a unibrow is considered an embarrassment and unappealing, but for the nation of Tajikistan, it is regarded as a trademark of beauty, and both men and women wear their unibrows with pride.
For Tajik women having unibrow is a symbol of feminine beauty and purity while for the men, it is associated with masculinity, bravery, and strength. Generally, in Tajikistan, women with unibrow are regarded as more beautiful and fashionable while the men are seen as more manly and more appealing to the opposite sex. The women that don’t have a natural unibrow use makeup or leafy herb called usma in between their eyebrows to create an illusion of a thick black unibrow. There are even many Central Asian countries that cultivated and desired unibrow.