What Makes Us Beautiful?

Julie Clark Robinson on 4 May 2011 at 7:00am

Jennifer Lopez is clearly gorgeous, and from what I’ve seen of her personality while sitting at the judge’s desk of American Idol, she seems to have a genuinely beautiful heart as well.  But is she the most beautiful woman in the world (as according to People magazine)?  I’d gladly give her the title with regards to the good old US of A, but what about the aesthetic preferences of other cultures?  Certainly there’s someone equally lovely elsewhere on the planet that has somehow flown under the radar of a gargantuanly successful American magazine.

Not mention that what is beautiful in one country can be ugly in another. “Beauty is the most overused, misunderstood, poorly defined word in the English language,” says New York Plastic Surgeon Dr. Robert Tornambe in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Tribal Thai woman with elongated neck

What do non-Western countries consider beautiful?

  • Ancient Chinese literature depicts frailty (specifically feet so tightly bound that a gal has to wonder how the poor thing was able to stand) as the most desirous of characteristics.  Thankfully these days bigger is better and it’s the curvalicious female who garners the accolades. 
  • Japanese women consider their skin to be their most important feature, while in Thailand it’s (still!) the elongated neck that symbolizes beauty. 
  • The women in a Polynesian tribe in New Zealand tattoo their lips and chins blue in order to be their most desirable. 
  • In some Middle Eastern countries, women are required to be almost entirely covered by a burqa. Their physical beauty is hidden in public. 

Instead of relying on Hollywood (or in the case of Ms. Lopez-Anthony, People magazine) to set the Western beautystandard, Dr. Tornambe suggests that attractiveness is based on:

1. Confidence 

Chinese woman with footbinding

2. Charisma

3. Personality

4. A solid beauty routine.

So that’s check…check…check… and a "?" for JLo, since no report that I’ve seen has broken down her beauty routine for us as of yet.  Whatever it is, it’s working for her.

Photo credit: People magazine, babasteve and Northhampton Museum on flickr.com

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