Perceptions of Beauty: A More International Angle

The way in which we look and why, how we are supposed to look, behave, act and why have always been very tantalising subjects. They touch upon many common cultural threads that are interwoven across the globe.

We have already discussed perceptions of beauty in Asia (China) and the cult of less than healthy body shaming challenges it has generated of late.

But more recently whilst browsing the depths of the internet I stumbled upon a survey that caught my interest. It was entitled: Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders. It was commissioned by Superdrug Online Doctor, with the purpose of better understanding the ideas of beauty internationally. The survey tasked 18 graphic designers (female designers as they wanted to examine the kaleidoscope of beauty from a women’s perspective) to Photoshop the same image into what they believed reflects their country’s cultural stereotype of beauty and perfection.

This compelling concept produced some pretty astonishing results, highlighting the sometimes vast differences in what different countries and cultures regard as beautiful. Perhaps a good indication of the fact that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

Looking over the images the designers produced truly brings to mind the word variety. What appeals to both men and women from country to country from body shape to facial features even hair colour is remarkable. It’s something I wasn’t fully aware of until this moment.

What strikes me the most are the adaptations made by the Chinese designer. Compared to those around her, she stands out in just how skinny she is, especially when considering her more voluptuous counterparts from Spain or South America. Oddly she appears almost unnatural, a porcelain doll falling strictly in line with the cultural indicators of perfection that have come to be expected.

The ideal body type in China weighted in at only 7.3 st (that’s 46.3 kg or 102 pounds), followed closely by Italy at 7.7 st. A fairly considerably difference to say Spain, who came in at 10.9 st. These figures were based on a woman at the height of a 5’5″.


The survey also produced an estimate of what these women would weigh, arguing China’s example, according to the predicted BMI (Body Mass Index) would qualify as anorexic!

Of course this is all conjecture, but it does encourage you to pause and think for a moment. The survey is relatively small in scope in that only one designer featured from each country that is featured. The small sample size reflects what these individuals believe and perceive as the ideal, which is important to bare in mind.

Having said that, they seem pretty spot on considering some of the conversations I’ve had regard this subject.

So having a look at the information for yourself, what do you think? What are your ideas of the perfect female (figure)? Comment below.

[Images from ocmomblog, OnlineDoctor.Superdrug]


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