Think you know what the ideal body shape for a woman looks like? Prepare for some surprises, and the urge to pack your bags and relocate…
When your entire job focuses around beauty, you tend to get a firsthand insight into the body battles women face every day, most of which stem from the perpetual pursuit of an unattainable (at least for most of us) social ideal of the perfect physique.
But what if we told you that same standard not only doesn’t hold true in other parts of the world, but that in many places around the globe, the so-called ‘bulge’ many of your clients are attempting to fight off is in fact considered to be the upmost standard of beauty?
In the following set of eye-opening images, you’ll see just what an ideal body looks like around the world, thanks to an experiment by UK group, Superdrug Online Doctors, who gave female graphic designers in 18 countries an image of a woman with the brief to Photoshop her into the ideal woman. The results are not only surprising, but a reminder of the innate fact that women are beautiful in every shape and size; something your clients might find refreshing to learn…
Above is the original, completely un-touched image the designers were given to work with. As you’ll see in the images below, their alterations range from minimal to extensive, reflecting the dramatic variations in social images of beauty around the world and the surprising truth that there is no such thing as a universally ideal woman…
Argentina is well-known for its obsession with plastic surgery in pursuit of the attainment of a Barbie-like image, so a well-endowed bust, slim waist and long-defined legs reign king in the attractiveness stakes.
2. South Africa
Considering South Africans enjoy warm weather for more than half of the year and subsequently spend a significant amount of time outdoors, it’s not altogether shocking the representation of the ideal South African body type is long, lean and tanned.
For a country notorious for it’s cosmetic surgery centred beauty pageants, the ideal Miss Venezuela looks surprisingly voluptuous and un-enhanced.
In a country where food-centred activities are central to conveying love, the ideal Spanish body type – also the fullest figured of the bunch – represents a culture non-fixated on restrictive eating with a healthy attitude toward body image and an enduring fascination with soft, womanly curves.
America has a lot of mixed messages when it comes to healthy living, with an abundance of fast food and a conflicting obsession with calorie restriction, eight-minute abs and those notorious thigh gaps, so it’s not altogether shocking the image of the ideal body here is one few women would ever be able to attain.
By far the most dramatic of all the submissions, China’s depiction of the ideal woman appears eerily distorted and anime-like, with exaggerated eyes, a tiny waist and an elongated head; she’s a far cry from the original image, with proportions that would give her a BMI around 17, below the anorexic threshold.
Colombia may have suddenly gone up a few notches on many women’s travel lists, with the ideal woman’s physique representing a far more achievable look for most of us. She’s also indicative of the strong self-confidence and healthy body image Colombian women are known for possessing.
With her proud bust and shapely waist and hips, the Philippines archetype of beauty epitomises a culture that upholds womanliness and female sexuality as the ultimate beauty attributes.
With her fiery red hair, column shaped physique and elongated forehead, the Netherlands woman epitomises Western European notions of mystical, statuesque beauty.
With a clear emphasis on the pear shaped body, the ideal Syrian woman epitomises femininity, motherhood and curvaceousness.
Highlighting a clear predilection for the hourglass physique, Peru’s ideal woman has a narrow waist with shapely hips and breasts, channeling a look of the golden era of screen sirens like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.
With strong, muscular legs and a tiny waist, Egypt’s ideal female body type is powerful and athletic, with a strong sense of sexuality.
One of the more fuller-figured images, Romania’s depiction of the female form appears decidedly less enhanced, with a clear emphasis on womanly curves.
Appearing not dissimilar to a runway model, the Italian image of beauty may just be one of the more unattainable, with legs that go on forever, a tiny waist and pert breasts, and red underwear to up her ultra-sexual appeal.
Also opting for siren red lingerie, Ukraine’s image of female beauty maintains some of the original image’s feminine softness while slimming down her waist and limbs dramatically into a column body type.
Taking note from the US, Mexico’s ideal woman has a Kardashian-like body, with an exaggerated tapered waist and shapely hips.
Decidedly less shapely is the UK’s representation of female beauty, with a column-like physique and narrow hips, reminiscent of the statuesque bodies of stars like Charlize Theron and Megan Fox.
Complete with enhanced facial features and a slimmed-down waist, the ideal Serbian woman’s look takes its cue from 1950s pin-up girls and the classic hourglass figure.
This article was originally published by Professional Beauty in 2015.
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