Beauty Ideals





Pre-Reading Discussion

  1. Is beauty important? How often do you think about beauty?
  2. Do beautiful people have better lives?
  3. What is the beauty ideal for men and women in Israel?
  4. Do you think different cultures have different perceptions of what beauty is? What is the beauty ideal in other countries?
  5. Should people change the way they look if they are not satisfied with their looks?
  6. Do you think the way you view yourself changes as you grow older?
  7. The Importance of Appearance: Statistics tell us most adolescent (teenage) girls are unhappy with the way they look. Does this echo your own and your friends’ attitudes? Do adolescent boys have the same attitude?

Pre-Reading Discussion 2

  1. Body Advertisements and Representations: Do you think we are conditioned by advertising to think what is beautiful and what is not?
  2. How are contemporary female bodies typically represented in advertisements, television, movies, and print media? How do these representations influence the way girls feel about their bodies and they way they dress? What do the manufacturers of body products and projects such as makeup, clothing, diet aids, and plastic surgery stand to gain from making girls unhappy about their bodies?
  3. Role Models for Sexuality: Name several female media idols who are role models for girls and boys today. 
  4. Peer Acceptance: How important is appearance to peer acceptance? How do peers influence the way teenage girls and boys act, look, and think about themselves and others?

Practice these words on Quizlet


Beauty standards differ from culture to culture and what’s considered stunning in one country may be considered weird in another. Below are some unique beauty ideals from different countries. From long necks to fanged teeth, everyone has a slightly different view as to what makes a person physically attractive.

Thailand-long necks


Women who belong to the Kayan tribe in Thailand begin wearing brass rings around their neck at a very young age. As they grow older, they add more rings in order to lengthen and stretch out their necks. In the Kayan culture, a long slim neck is considered graceful and beautiful.

India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia-body piercings



It is still very common for Indian Hindu women to wear a nose stud, usually in the left nostril, as a fashion statement. A nose ring is also one of the several symbols of a married woman or to mark that a girl is ready for a husband. As part of Ayurveda, ancient Indian medicine (which is still practiced today), it is believed that a hole in a woman’s left nostril relieves some of the pain in childbirth. Piercing is also related to religion in India. Men pierce different parts of their bodies, including their tongue, during the religious Thaipusam holiday. 



Women’s scars are valued and considered the beauty ideal in Ethiopia’s Karo tribe. Self scarring is considered a way to add a unique aspect to your physical appearance, whether the scars appear on the face or the abdomen.

Mauritania-weight gains


In this African country, bigger women–or women who fall into the overweight category– are celebrated and considered beautiful. In this culture, a larger body signifies that women are wife material, and are therefore more attractive.

Iran-plastic surgery


Surprisingly, plastic surgery is a status symbol in Iran. If you can afford plastic surgery, it indicates a certain financial freedom. Here, surgeries such as rhinoplasty are envied by others, and many men and women flaunt their bandages for longer time periods than they need to or wear fake ones to give the illusion that they’ve had surgery.

Southern Ethiopia-stretched lips


The Mursi women who reside in Southern Ethiopia like to stretch out their lips with clay plates to make them grow in size. Bigger lips represent womanhood and maturity, so the more exaggerated their feature looks, the better.  

New Zealand-face tattoos


The Maori people of New Zealand believe that the more tattoos one has on their face–whether they’re on his or her lips or their chin–the more attractive they are. It’s not at all uncommon to invest in some body art in this tribe. Both men and women take part in the tradition.

Japan-fanged teeth


In some Japanese cultures, women who possess fanged teeth are praised and touted as the ideal beauty standard. To attain this look (unless she was born with sharpened teeth), women have their teeth capped (either permanently or temporarily) by a dental surgeon.

USA-ear pointing


Ear pointing means changing the shape of the ear so it looks like an elf’s ear, or a Vulcan. This beauty standard is found among Lord of the Rings and Star Trek fans. It began with a man from Arizona, and has become popular with some males around the country.

China-bound feet


For more than 1,000 years, Chinese women bound their feet with tight fabric. Usually, females first applied bindings at a young age, because women with smaller feet were considered more beautiful and desirable. The practice was also a way to indicate social status; he practice began with wealthy women who didn’t have to work around the home, but eventually, even poor villagers started binding to fit in with other women in their towns. In 1911, binding was banned by the government.