The definition of beauty in 2019 is ambiguous. In a government study, they found that:
"57% of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed admit to having felt anxious because of their body image" (YouGov, 17 May 2019)
We are bombarded everyday through news outlets as to what makes you a desirable person.
The adjectives of which people are reduced to, can have an effect on your mental health. This is why it’s as important to monitor not only what we put on our skin and in our bodies but also what we choose to consume and engage with mentally.
That’s why I've decided to explore beyond the borders of western culture, with efforts to break down beauty barriers, I’m going to investigate what beauty is to other cultures in 2019. Let’s refresh our minds and break free of social expectations by resetting our expectations of beauty.
An exploration outside of western culture and beauty standards.
Let’s start in New Zealand! The Māori tribe use a practice called moko kaure. They tattoo their faces. It’s seen as a physical manifestation of their beauty.
Each tattoo is unique and is a mark of milestones in their life. Being beautiful in this tribe means being open and faithful to your values. It’s about displaying your achievements and making yourself visible. These women purposefully etch markings onto their faces to display the course of their life.
Who is to say that wrinkles, stretch marks, and acne scars, should we have them, can’t be perceived in the same way if we choose to? They are a mark of our experience, naturally beautiful and honest.
Next up is Asia, home to the largest skincare industry! However, Japan has some particularly intriguing beauty trends, one of which is known as Yaeba, the beauty of crooked teeth.
People are having braces to deliberately make their teeth crooked, to be perceived as youthful and naturally beautiful!
Another fascinating one is found with the Himba people an ancient tribe that lives in Namibia and has a population of around 35,000.
They apply otijze, a mixture of butter fat and red ochre to their hair and skin daily, this leaves their bodies soft and red as well as protected from the sun and mosquitoes. Forget tanning and whitening lotions and potions, this beauty technique has so many benefits to the wellbeing of these women and has been used for hundreds of years.
So, instead of following a trend, why not think about would benefit you health-wise?
Finally, let’s have a look at a specific beauty trend from Tajikistan, a country situated just above Afghanistan. This is the beauty of female facial hair - specifically the unibrow.
Whereas I’ve been waxing my eyebrows since I was pushed into a salon aged 9, here, women are even using herbal remedies to fake what I was shamed for. It is believed that for women, the smaller the gap between their eyebrows, the closer they are to their husbands! It’s seen as very attractive for both sexes, as a symbol of purity and virility.
Me & My cystic acne
After exploring all of these cultures, it’s safe to say that your definition of beauty does not need to be reliant on what we see online. It’s so much broader and more exciting than that.
For every insecurity and ‘fault’ you impose upon yourself, someone, somewhere is striving (and paying money) to have what you have.
We are all born beautiful and you need to not limit yourself to what you are told will make you ‘better’, there is always time to figure out what makes you feel the most like yourself. Keep your horizons broad and try to see beauty as a means of self-expression rather than a standard to meet.
If you feel there is something about you which isn’t ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’ it's time to celebrate it. I used to hate my forehead and thick eyebrows. I was bullied for both. Now I wear my hair up and out of my face and often use makeup to thicken my brows.
When I had my most severe cystic acne breakout, I shared it online. They were like constellations, telling the story of my stress at the time, I wasn’t going to hide it. I went out dancing, on dates and finished my degree.
If you enjoyed this piece, do follow us on Instagram @systemakville and @indieskky as there are many more feel-good pieces to come. I hope you’re feeling more equipped to face the world!
Leaning into your fears and aiming for self-acceptance will always always feel better, more satisfying and truer than any quick fix. Vulnerability is a strength and shows confidence, something that can’t be taken from you, and that money can’t buy.
Here’s how some of our followers define beauty -
“Self-worth and being comfortable in your skin - own it!!!!” - my older and beautiful cousin, Tasha.
“Being truly unapologetic about not meeting someone else’s standards” - @beccer_monday
“Self-confidence!’ - @the_second_hobson
“Embracing our imperfections” - @ashahbooth
“Being yourself” @systemakville
“Authenticity” - @pattypooooo
“I’ve never considered myself or my looks as ‘normal’ (auburn hair, freckles, pale skin ) & during my youth I hated those differences as they made me stand out, meaning I was desperate to conform, but it’s only been with age & experience that I’ve understood that being different means you’re unique & unique is ultimately far more interesting - who wants to part of the big grey norm - not me 🙌🏼☺️” @boyintobeauty
“I’ve never considered myself or my looks as normal as well. I’m tall but I’m very confident about my height. I am 1,79 and I really enjoy wearing high heels. My acne prone skin is a huge source of insecurity for me. It took ages for me to love it. One year ago I went off the pill and my skin got nuts! It’s how it works. You have to learn to love and accept yourself.” @akvileignotaite
“What’s normal anyway?! 😂 I’ve been told several times that I am “sexy” - and that lies on the confidence. You shine when you believe in yourself. I also have many imperfections but I only see that comparing myself to others is total bullshit. I guess also this confidence comes only with the years. I used to stay home when I was a teen if I had a horrible pimple in my face cause I didn’t want the other kids to see it in my face 🙈 - I wish I could go back in time!” @sabela_garcia_cuesta
Love, Indiana Sky.