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Beauty Standards: East vs. West


Culture shapes our beliefs and perceptions. Beauty standards, for instance, are not universal. What is perceived as beautiful in America might look strange in Africa, because the concept of beauty is subjective. 

In Eastern culture, women rely on the so-called ‘no makeup’ makeup look.  A simple style is preferable. 

It’s very common to see Eastern women wearing baby pink lipsticks. Many Asian women use lightweight foundation to create a dewy look and achieve bright, vibrant skin. In East Asia, the so-called “glass skin” is popular, in whichskin looks smooth, poreless and almost transparent. 

Comparison between Eastern and Western makeup trends. | CREDIT: StyleStory,

On the other hand, Western women often prefer a bold look. They cover dark spots on their faces, and some of them wear unconventional lipstick colors like black and blue.

Many Americans prefer tanned skin. In contrast to the Eastern culture that views a non-tanned skin as more feminine, Western culture sees tanned skin as beautiful. 

In China, Japan and the Philippines, some women rely on face-whitening products. At early ages, paleness was a mark of prestige and a signifier that you were “kept.” Big brands like L’Oreal, Nivea and Lancôme are major names in Asia, where they accumulate more profits given the high demand on face-whitening products.

Skin whitening has become a popular trend in most parts of Asia. | CREDIT: Shutterstock

In some cultures, body color gives an impression about social class. If someone is white enough, it means that person spends much time at home and is privileged. 

In the Western Culture, women overuse tanning products. In the 1990s, American Magazines gave tips on how to reach the perfect tanned skin. 

When it comes to body types, many Eastern women prefer super skinny ones. While many Western women perceive skinny bodies as one of the physical characteristics of beauty, the standard may be more extreme in Eastern culture

A focus on slim bodies is evident in China, and many girls are exposed to health threats like anorexia. 

CREDIT: FitRated

With regard to men, big muscles are thought to look more sexy and appealing in the American context. In the Asian culture, muscles are less of a focus,  and many men are skinny or slim. Big muscles are not as popular in the Asian context. 

All in all, beauty standards are toxic. Self-esteem has become too dependent on the perceptions of others. Oftentimes, if you don’t follow the beauty standards that are imposed upon you, you will be bullied and criticized. 

Women should not be obliged to be skinny or fat; it is a matter of  personal choice. While we respect all cultures and traditions, it is very toxic to impose certain beauty standards on people. Beauty standards are unacceptable, whether they are universal or culturally relative. 

Normalise normal. If your skin is white, then leave it as it. If it’s black, then embrace it. You are beautiful just the way you are.