Follow Us:
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Who’s beautiful? How beauty is defined around the world

You could be beautiful in one country and not even the slightest bit of attractive in other.

Written by Khyati Rajvanshi | Oxford |
Updated: August 11, 2015 4:51:12 pm
beauty-main Perception of beauty is different in different parts of the world

The word “beautiful” holds more meaning to it than you would think. It could mean you have a beautiful soul, or a beautiful smile, or you are a drop-dead gorgeous angel that fell from the sky. What you do not realise is, you could be beautiful in one country and not even the slightest bit of attractive in other.

The famous saying “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” does seem to reflect the enriched human culture, nature and perceptions of what beautiful is. As an International student studying in an International community, I noticed a very strange thing about perceiving beauty in others. I would personally find some people more attractive than the others because of my own upbringing or my own cultural bubble that has set rules about how a beautiful person should look like.

Everyone has a different perspective and this made me want to look into how different cultures define beauty.

After a lot of research, I came up with what beauty is defined as around the world. Here are some of the countries that I focused on:

Best of Express Premium

UPSC CSE Key – May 24, 2022: Know the Relevance of Indo-Pacific Economic ...Premium
Two months ago, sacked Punjab minister Vijay Singla had warned of zero to...Premium
Quad: Opportunities, challengesPremium
Prashant Kishor: ‘In the next 20-30 years, Indian politics will revolve a...Premium


If you walk around in the streets of Korea or even come across Koreans abroad, you will notice a certain pattern in their physical appearance.

* No Tan

The most apparent physical trait is the lack of tanning. Koreans will walk around with ajumma visors, hats, arm covers and every skin lightening cream that has 15+ SPF built into it. There are many arguments as to why Korean men and women like to be pale, one of which targets their historical context of being tanned. Historically speaking, if you were tanned, that would mean that you are a poor peasant working outdoors as compared to people who have pale skin, which represented luxury, wealth and lack of wrinkles.

* Double Eyelids = Big Eyes

Next trait that defines a Korean beauty is having “double eyelids”. That is correct. Eyelids define your attractiveness in Korea. Celebrities are known to have surgery done to get them and the people who cannot afford surgery, simple use double eye-lid tape. This type of surgery is one of the most important surgeries in Korea and it is argued that people get it done to look more western.

* Face, V-line Face

Last but not the least physical trait makes you a true Korean beauty is having a “V line” face. If you do not have a V line shaped jaw, surgery is readily available to you in Korea because that is an essential beauty code. Ads on subway are used to encourage people to get that shape and majority of the celebrity photos are taken in a n angle that creates the illusion of a V-line. As if that was not enough to set a beauty trend, products are sold in heavy masses to help trim down your jaw and face fat.

Other minor traits such as: having a small face; X-line and S-line body shape; long legs, help define a true Korean beauty.

Here is an interesting YouTube video I came across which takes you through the 100 years of Korean beauty. Check it out:


English people often call Indians “Exotic”. I do not know whether to thank Priyanka Chopra for that excoriating song due to which people started calling us exotic, but that word makes me chuckle. I personally would say that us Indians have undeniable beautiful genetic beauty traits that are hard to find in other races.

* Long and Glossy Hair

Indians are known for their gorgeous, long and soft hair. All Indian women have to do is waive that hair around once and twice, and they will have hearts falling on their feet. With herbal coconut hair oils, henna, and other enriched nutrition for hair, India does seem to be on the top of the list when it comes to hair and hair products. Hair and hair oil products are essential 101 beauty tips to look like a true Indian beauty.

* Fairness Cream

In India you cannot only find endless colorful clothes, street food, historical monuments, but also endless variety of fairness creams. Why? Simply because of India’s colonial past a.k.a the British Empire. Being fair meant having wealth, luxury, and more importantly a status that commoners did not achieve in their lifetime. Apart from Bollywood’s obsession of London, fairness creams discourage women to spend more time under the sun. Several adverts are made that show women gain more success after using fairness cream, thus implementing the idea that life is tough if you are dark skinned. Well-known fairness brands in India, sells fairness cream, lotion, face wash etc. After targeting the female audience for years, it moved on to male species, thus highlighting the importance of being light skinned.

Check out a fairness cream commercial I came across for women:

Men, don’t feel left out, here’s one for you too:

American culture is quite intercultural in terms of ethnicity, race and of course the recent wave of migrants from across the world. Nailing down one single beauty attribute would be generalizing only a few percentages of people in the whole continent. Hence, the best way to summarise the trending beauty standards in that country is to focus on the media and how women are mostly represented in them.

* The Hip-Hop Booty

I know I am being quite specific about that term but the truth is, half of the music videos which are not only Hip-Hop, feature women with big butts. You can call Nicki Minaj the sponsor of big butts after her Anaconda music video that basically just talks about how big her butt is and how skinny girls are not sexy. Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and even Kylie Jenner have turned towards focusing on having bigger assets. This could be in a way a healthy message which degrades the good old days of anorexic and bulimia beauty, but could also pressurise young girls into transforming their assets to the ones they see on screen.

* Plastic Surgery Craze

Over the years, celebrities and television personas have been fans of the plastic surgery industry in order to look flawless and young. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in the year 2014, there were 15.6 million cosmetic procedures done in the United States, which is an increase of 3 percent since 2013.

The latest trends in the world of plastic surgery have been mainly – bigger lips, bigger breasts and bigger butts. If you have them all, you have it all.


The United Kingdom is the land of historic victories, Kings and Queens, and of course – the gorgeous princesses. Many people consider the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton an ideal British beauty but what is a true English beauty?

* Slim and Sexy

According to several articles I have read online, the UK has rebelled on several occasions against the portrayal of women on shopping websites and catalog by saying the body that the models have are simple “unattainable”. Models are often slim, tall and well toned, which clearly the common women do not appreciate. Big butts and breasts have also been added to the menu lately due to the Americanized media that influences women to be more voluptuous in the right areas.

* Make – up the haze

Rumor has it that UK women spend about 474 days of their life applying makeup. And the average woman spends about $15,000 of makeup in her lifetime. If these statistics are true, they still put the UK behind Germany, which is said to be the highest consumer of makeup products.

* Flawless Skin and Fake Tan

With UK being more of a cloudy place, fake tans have recently become popular within the masses. Of course, not to mention the flawless skin that has to come along with it. Makeup does provide the flawless skin to some extent but skin products also aim to please women with their flawless effects on the skin.

All in all, the truth is, physical beauty is something that lasts with age, no matter how many plastic surgeries or Botox one may have to stay young. All you need is a smile on your face and no matter what corner of the world you travel to; you will be beautiful in the eyes of the beholders. If you are heart and mind is not young, you can never be beautiful forever. And I am not saying that to just make you feel better. Or am I?


Engulfing the Atlantic Ocean eastward across Africa, to the Arabian Sea and south from the Mediterranean Sea to the Horn of Africa and beyond, the Arab World consists of about 25 Arabic-speaking countries. And the Arab beauty you ask? It engulfs the whole world with its eye catching, naturally gifted physical attributes. Although the Arab World is filled with beauty, it is quite tough to summarise each and every single countries’ perception of beauty.

Eyes and the Makeup

With countries such as Saudi Arabia, whose dress codes do not reveal more than the women’s eyes, women tend to focus on being attractive through their eyes. They say eyes are the mirrors to the soul, but they are also the platform for many makeup products. Arab women tend to spend a lot of money on expensive makeup brands because they believe in keeping their skin flawless over a long period of time. Arab women also are fond of enhancing their eyes with black kohl to make them look more appealing and exotic.

Natural Baths and Products

Natural products are on the beauty list of Arab women and Argon oil stands on the top of that list. Argon oil is known for it’s anti-aging properties and helps your skin glow. It can be a good moisturizer for your skin and can be replaced by olive oil depending on the person. Various hair oils are famous within the women as well and good hair and skin are considered beautiful.

Hammam Maghrabi is a homemade bath that slays off all the dead skin and helps reveal gorgeous glowing skin, which is what women aim for. Another homemade ritual that is famous is ‘Halawa’, which is homemade natural wax meant for removing body hair. This wax also helps remove dead skin and black pigmentation caused by mainstream hair removal products.

All in all, the truth is, physical beauty is something that transforms with age. All you need is a smile on your face and no matter what corner of the world you travel to; you will be beautiful in the eyes of the beholders. If you are heart and mind is not young, you can never be beautiful forever.

What do you think is beautiful? Leave your comments.

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard