Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder

Beauty is not constant: upon crossing the border into a foreign country, perceptions of beauty are noticeably different from those in America, according to senior Corina Marziano, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela.In Hispanic cultures, being beautiful is not only attributed to physical characteristics, but also to poise, Marziano said: the most attractive women in Venezuela are those who don’t fear displaying their comfort in their beauty.

“Women [in Venezuela are] all very confident in themselves,” Marziano said. “It’s easy to portray beauty with confidence in yourself. …Here, you’re not used to seeing a woman walk down a street owning it and knowing that she’s beautiful.”

There are, however, some physical elements that are emphasized in Hispanic culture to accentuate visible self-confidence, according to Marziano.

“[Men in Venezuela] really like the long legs, the skirt and the heels,” Marziano said.

Senior Laura Soria said when visiting Ecuador, where her parents are from, she noticed that the “beautiful” women there are openly sensual and embrace clothing silhouettes that highlight, instead of hide, various features of the body.

“[In Ecuador, people] very much like how women are supposed to be — shapely…a healthy weight,” Soria said. “With a lot of Latino talk shows, the women will dress very sensual[ly]: they’ll actually have cleavage, they’ll wear bright colors. They’re very into being very feminine, very flattering.”

Junior Jenny Liao said she has seen different perceptions of beauty in China, where she was born and lived for over seven years. Liao said that Chinese culture does not encourage an emphasis on outer beauty, as it chooses to instead instill a focus on education. School administrations go so far as to punish students who visit nail and hair salons, Liao said.

“Besides doing their hair, sometimes [students will] do makeup a little bit,” Liao said. “[But], teachers discourage [students going to salons]. It depends on what school you go to, but [students] can get in trouble for wearing makeup. [Chinese schools] don’t want kids to be focused on physical beauty. [Focus is on] internal beauty, more than anything. And, definitely, education is a big part of every Chinese [person’s] life. If you can’t do well in school, you don’t have much of a future in front of you.”

Adults in China, Liao said, recognize that the education system, not physical beauty, opens many opportunities for students’ careers, which will secure them a successful adult life.

“For [people in China], caring about style…doesn’t make you pretty,” Liao said. “If you are smart and you study really hard, you’re the girl that [adults]want married to their family.”

Indian culture, however, prizes many uncommon physical features, according to senior Sneha Kolli, who was born in southern India and lived there for five years.

“The most beautiful people have things out of the ordinary,” Kolli said. “If you have lighter color eyes or lighter color skin, I feel like that’s considered more beautiful. Features-wise, I know Indian people say big eyes are really nice.”

Beauty products designed to gradually lighten the skin are marketed across India, attempting to access the demographic that is active in its pursuit of beauty, according to Kolli.

“[Indian stores] have certain things you can take baths with, like powders, that will supposedly keep your skin nicer looking,” Kolli said. “[A skin-lightening product is] Fair & Lovely: it’s a beauty cream that’s meant to make girls fair. Now, they have it for men, too — it’s called Fair & Handsome. Everything is endorsed by huge celebrities.”

The entertainment industry in Georgia, according to sophomore Mancho Khakhnelidze, who has lived in both Georgia and Russia, effectively determines the specifics of beauty, because those who are deemed naturally beautiful are selected to participate in the filming of widely-distributed movies.

“If you live in Georgia and you’re [naturally] pretty, [people] offer you [roles] in shows and movies,” Khakhnelidze said. “If you’re pretty or outgoing and are involved in shows and movies, a lot of people get to know you. [Then,] people that try to be beautiful [will mimic] people with natural beauty.”

Naturally attractive features are revered in Russia and Georgia, because an emphasis is placed on character instead of looks, Khakhnelidze said.

“In Georgia, they like everything natural,” Khakhnelidze said. “If you have plastic surgery and you’re pretty, they don’t ask, but they’re like, ‘Oh, she [had] nose surgery done.’ In Russia, it’s the same thing. People don’t really look at what you look like: it’s about your personality.”

Beauty is found in keeping looks natural in Nigeria, as well, according to senior Amara Agomuo, whose parents are from the country. While light skin and eyes are viewed as beautiful and clothes are created to show off naturally occurring curves in the body, women usually choose to focus on bettering their manners and poise, Agomuo said.

“Mannerism is a big thing,” Agomuo said. “You can’t just have somebody who’s pretty: they need to make sure they’re a nice, polite lady.”

Junior Cecilia Lopez Gonzalez, from Huehuetenango, Guatemala, said that in any part of the world, every person will always possess features that are physically beautiful, because there will always be something culturally unique about them.

“All the places have something interesting [regarding physical beauty]; [it] doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Lopez Gonzalez said. “You’ll always have something that can be beautiful.”

Published in The Chronicle (page 18) on April 23, 2010.
Published at on July 15, 2011.


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