They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but so often, we desire to live up to what our culture demands. In modern American times, this usually means: in-shape, tall, luscious hair, perfect teeth, symmetrical face, and the list goes on.
But in an article by Charles Fang at Stanford University, he quotes the vast variance in appearance and preference across human groups, such as: “Chinese men used to prefer women with small feet. In Shakespearean England, ankles were the rage. In some African tribal cultures, men like women who insert large discs in their lips.”
I also stumbled across a feature on Oprah.com where women from different countries explained what is seen as most beautiful in their homeland. She explores beauty practices from around the globe, from the common to the not-so-common:
Clear skin and straight hair might make a woman more attractive in Japan, but in remote corners of the globe, women are judged by different criteria. On the National Geographic Channel’s show Taboo, cameras document some of the world’s most extreme beauty practices.
On the border of Burma and Thailand, members of the Kayan tribe begin their beauty rituals at a young age. At just 5 years old, girls start wearing brass rings around their necks, a ritual that’s centuries old. As they grow older, more rings are added, and eventually, their necks start to look elongated, giving them a giraffe-like appearance. For these women, the shiny brass rings are the ultimate sign of female elegance and status. Some neck pieces can weigh up to 22 pounds.
“If I take the rings off now, I won’t look nice anymore,” one woman says. “They really are a part of my life.”
I thought about this idea of beauty as I drove to work this morning. The pop song, “Just the way you are,” by Bruno Mars came on the radio and it brought tears to my eyes as I thought about beauty’s real definition. A definition that I have only learned recently, taught to me by a little pair of “almond eyes” (as Kelle Hampton cleverly calls them) and a fuzzy mohawk. One that is not measured by human standards, but by God’s standards.
I have always hoped that I could instill the true value of beauty to my children. That sure, physical beauty is to be admired, but that true beauty is not based on the criteria of a casting director or a modeling agency. It’s based on the heart and soul. And if perfection is something we all strive for, often falling short and beating ourselves up about – there’s only one measure that really matters:
How beautiful is your heart?
This big brother knows what’s up: