If you ask people what they consider beautiful, you will probably get a million different answers. That is because beauty is something subjective. What we find attractive is based on our own perception, influenced mostly by the culture we are exposed to, and that is why perceptions of beauty differ around the world.
Have you heard of a beauty standard as specific as the perfect jaw line? Well, according to South Koreans, the perfect human must have a V-shaped jawline, pale skin, big round eyes, ‘aegyo sal’ (cute eye bags), an X-shaped body (in other words, long limbs) and a nose with a distinctive bridge. Pretty specific, right? To achieve this ideal image a lot of girls feel the pressure to go under the knife or even wear stuff like double-eyelid tapes (almost like stickers that create a deep crease on your eyelids).
Have you ever heard of the term gyaru? Gyaru is a type of Japanese fashion street style (with multiple variations); girls are willing to spend their time religiously to acquire certain gyaru looks. If you are not familiar with the term, search keywords like ‘Himegyaru’ and ‘Manba’ (or simply wander around the Tokyo streets) and you will be surprised with the gyaru girl’s really dark skin with contrasting makeup, crazy outfits and hair. This is certainly not something the average person can sport.
Putting gold rings around someone’s neck started as a way to protect the people of the Kayan tribe from attacks on their neck by wild animals and as a way to make the women less attractive to other tribes. Yet nowadays it has become a beauty standard and has helped women make money out of it. Tourists are willing to pay to see the women with the extremely long necks; for them, it’s just another part of sightseeing. For some women though this is still a way to make themselves more beautiful and they believe in passing the tradition to the next generations. Pictures of these women will definitely shock you and may make you wonder about the ethical aspect of this act.
Text by Elpida Komianou, photography by Brian Jeffery Beggerly