Cultural ideas of beauty

Mursi women of Ethiopia have lower (and sometimes upper) lip plates – dhebi a tugoin – inserted by their mothers (or other women from the tribe) at the age of about 15.

Theories abound as to why – group pressure, a beauty ideal, a sign of wealth, strength and maturity, a signal that she is ready for marriage, ornamentation, fashion.

People from the West often condemn practices such as elongating neck rings, tribal scarification, lip plates barbaric, primitive ideas of beauty and wealth forced on women by other women for men. A primitive custom or hideous fashion. Oppression of women. And with some of them, I tend to agree.

But when I see this woman’s face in profile, it is very reminiscent of many women today, at least in Sweden. Having filler injected to make your natural lips very large is seen as beautiful, modern, youthful. Maybe it also shows that you have money. The women who have it done would probably say that they did it of their own free will. To look younger, or more beautiful. Because everyone else does it.

But how different is it really?

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

2 thoughts

  1. That’s a very good point. Body modification exists in every culture – tattoos, piercing, makeup, plastic surgery, injectables, fillers, botox, implants, etc. The list goes on and on.

  2. It’s fascinating to observe how beauty standards vary across different cultures and time periods.

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