Beauty Is Bizarre

  • February 13, 2010
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I love to explore and be enriched by other cultures, including subcultures within my own. When I travel, I am enthralled with the differences, and the similarities, between my culture and cultures abroad. Here, I will point out to you a few extreme examples of what people will do in the name of beauty, but I do not mean to be critical or patronizing. I am sure that the people I mention below would be equally surprised to learn that I once ate nothing but grapefruit for a month, or that I wrap my hair in tin foil, or that ... the list goes on and on. (I wouldn't even tell them about the time I donned a Dolly Parton wig.) I'm sure you'll find the following examples of bizarre beauty more worthy of your time:

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Lip Plates

In Ethiopia, some women insert discs made of wood or clay into a pierced hole in either one or both of their lips. These discs stretch the lips. This is often combined with the excision of the two lower front teeth, and sometimes even with the excision of all four front teach. Ouch!

lip plates


Neck Rings

In the mountains between Burma and Thailand live the Padaung women, who wear rings around their necks. What appears to be many rings is actually a single brass coil. The first coil is applied when the girl is five. As the child grows up, one coil is replaced with another, longer coil. This practice presses the clavicle and the rib cage together, giving the appearance that the neck is elongated. Ouch!!

neck rings


Facial Scarification

In West Africa, people decorate their faces with scars. Cheaper than Mary Kay, I guess. Ouch!!!

facial scarification


Crocodile Teeth

In New Guinea, strength and tolerance of pain is tested as a bamboo sliver is used to carve lines in the chest, back and butt. When these wounds heal, the scars represent the teeth marks of a crocodile that has swallowed the initiate, who has now been reborn as a crocodile man! Ouch!!!!

crocodile teeth


Tooth Sharpening

In many different cultures, people of both genders have sharpened their teeth. This practice has mostly gone out of style. Thank God. Ouch!!!!!

tooth sharpening