Beauty standards around the world

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ISTOCK (JULIANNA NAZAREVSKA)
Standards of beauty across the world is not the same for each country, but what makes us different is something quite beautiful.

Journalist Esther Honig released a series of photos in 2015, showing off different standards of beauty around the world. The task was to take a photo she provided and get graphic artists from around the world to manipulate it to become the standard of beauty in their respective countries.

South-East Asia

Pale skin is a sign of affluence and a marker for beauty in this part of the world. In that region, it is not unusual to find women carrying umbrellas or parasols on sunny days to avoid getting tanned. It is more difficult to find a beauty product there that doesn’t have some bleaching properties.

V-shaped faces are another ideal that South-East Asian strive for. Some have gone to lengths to undergo surgery to file down their jaws and readjust the chin position for an ideal face shape. The surgery is often paired with Botox injections to tighten up the skin in that area for a more dramatic look. Other methods to achieve the v-shaped face shape is through facial exercises and investing in a plethora of masks and firming cream.

Thinness is something that many strive for in different cultures, but not to the extent of the Chinese. In 2016, one of the biggest Chinese Internet crazes was holding up a piece of A4 printer paper vertically against their bodies as a scale to show off their waif physique (then using the #A4Waist hashtag). In order to participate, the subject’s waist must be completely hidden by the sheet of paper.

Latin America

Having a thin stomach with large breasts and buttocks is strived for in Latin America. Some girls go through surgery at a young age to cut out part of their intestines in order to disrupt the digestion system. Other young women are injected with hormones at the early age of eight or nine in order to promote growth. A 2003 study conducted by the Inter-Development Bank yielded results saying that children and adolescents in Medellin, Colombia had the highest rate of eating disorders (more so than anywhere in the world).


Full-figured ladies are desirable because overweight women represent wealth: the more stretch marks, the higher the prestige. Mauritania is one of the few countries in Africa where male children will receive less food in their childhood. In fact, it was commonplace to send daughters to “fat farms” to fatten up and force-feed children 10,000 calories a day starting at the age of five and have limited physical activities. Other ways women achieve this standard is to use bloating products, which can result in health complications.


America once boasted the title of the sunbed capital of the world. The ideal of “glowing” skin and a “sunkissed” tan is heavily engrained into their ideals of beauty. This is because tans were considered “healthy looking” and slimming. The tan also implies an active and fun lifestyle.

Americans prefer a “healthy” looking physique as opposed to a rail-thin body. Americans prefer some muscle mass and a healthy look.