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  • Writer's pictureIzza Masud

Embracing the Tapestry of Global Beauty: Why Should You Care?

Beauty is a multifaceted, intriguing journey shaped by heritage, culture, and deep personal experiences. Across different regions and epochs, beauty standards have reflected diverse ideals, urging us to appreciate the myriad definitions rather than being confined to a single global archetype.

In Japan, for centuries, the ideal was "ohaguro," the act of blackening one's teeth to signify maturity and beauty. Meanwhile, in the Maasai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania, elongated earlobes, stretched through decorative gauges, are seen as a hallmark of beauty and distinction.

In parts of Myanmar, the Kayan women wear brass coils around their necks, symbolizing elegance and grace. These coils, added over the years, give the illusion of an elongated neck, a cherished beauty standard among the Kayan. Western beauty norms have long emphasized clear, unblemished skin. Yet, in Ethiopia's Karo tribe, scars are considered beautiful. They're seen as symbols of bravery, and each one tells a unique story.

And it's not just women who grapple with these pressures. Men, especially the younger generation, face their own set of beauty norms. While Western cultures might shy away from male facial adornments, the indigenous Māori of New Zealand wear face tattoos with pride, showcasing their lineage and ancestry.

When I first opened my eyes to the world, the shade of my skin was under immediate scrutiny. Originating from South Asia, a region where lighter skin hues are often coveted, my complexion became an unwitting subject of concern. In a bid to align with the prevailing standards, my mother turned to traditional remedies like milk and honey baths. It wasn't just about personal preference but an entire society's deep-rooted belief system.

As I grew older, the parameters of beauty began to shift. The emphasis moved from skin tone to body shape and hair length. But while there was pressure to conform to a specific image in South Asia, a glance at global cultures showcases the vast and rich diversity of beauty standards.

Today, with the rise of social media and the digital age, young individuals, both girls and boys, are facing an unprecedented amount of pressure. The inundation of "perfect" images can be mentally exhausting and detrimental. Yet, the ramifications of such beauty standards run deep, often with lasting and adverse effects:

Low Self-esteem: A staggering number of individuals grapple with feelings of inadequacy due to unattainable beauty standards. A survey by the Dove Self Esteem Project, which interviewed 1000 girls aged between 10-17, revealed a concerning statistic: half of them experience self-esteem issues stemming from toxic beauty advice rampant on social media platforms.

Body Dysmorphia: In the quest to emulate unnatural and often unhealthy beauty standards, there has been a disconcerting spike in body dysmorphia, especially among the youth.

Unhealthy Behaviors: The pressures to conform can lead individuals down a path of harmful behaviours. These can manifest as disordered eating or excessive exercise in the hope of aligning with these societal norms.

However, there's hope. By acknowledging and embracing the diverse beauty norms around the world, we can begin to cultivate a society that values individuality over conformity. The crux of the matter is this: beauty is multifaceted. It's subjective, ever-evolving, and deeply personal. Instead of bowing to a Westernized ideal, it's time we expand our horizons. It's time we recognize and value the beauty that exists in every corner of the globe, in every individual.

At Aina, we believe in empowering each individual to define their own beauty standards. Because beauty isn't about fitting into a mold; it's about breaking it. Aina is more than just a beauty recommendation engine. It's a haven for all, regardless of their age, gender, skin tone, or cultural background.

In a world teeming with diversity, it's our collective responsibility to uplift, support, and celebrate every unique beauty narrative. Together, let's champion the cause of inclusive beauty and create a world where every person feels seen, valued, and beautiful in their own right. Your beauty, your rules.

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