In some parts of the world, cultures and languages have melted away and history is now the only thing left to illuminate what happened in the past. In some other places, the cultural significance of their traditions is yet to be on the wane. Many existing cultures might seem interesting and captivating but some of them involve extreme body modifications, terrible beauty standards and weird rituals and traditions. The weird cultures seem so normal to those who practice them but will shock the rest of the world and are frequently viewed as strange. However, it only reminds us of the cultural and traditional diversity around the world and shows how human interacts with different cultures to explain different behaviors humans engage in.
Even though we might these 8 weird beauty standards as insane, awkward, extreme and silly, we don’t need to despise them for being a little different. After all, there are a lot of modern trends that we are yet to understand likewise.
Yaping Hullo Nose Plugs – The Indian Tribe Apatani
Yaping Hullo is similar to the normal piercing, just that bamboo strips are replaced to make the hole bigger. The moment this nose-hole is big enough, a cane plug is set to be inserted. Many older women still retain this strange fashion thing as a significant part of their roots, but modern women have dropped this practice. However, it is believed that women of the Apatani tribe wore the yaping hullo to appear undesirable to men from other tribes.
Long Earlobes – Maasai Tribes of Kenya
Let it not surprise you but in reality, Maasai people pierce long earlobes as pictured above. Known for their long preserved culture, Maasai men as well as women see the need to be beautiful and regard beauty as a necessary part of their lives and this seemingly extreme body modification adds to their beauty. After piercing and stretching the earlobes which is done with different materials including thorns for piercing, bundles of twigs, stones, the cross-section of elephant tusks and empty film canisters, women wear various forms of beaded ornaments in both the ear lobe, and smaller piercings at the top of the ear. The oldest tribe members have the largest earlobes. Though fewer and fewer Maasai, especially boys, now follow this custom, it is still a common practice and thus happens in the region till date.
Yaeba Teeth (Double Tooth) – Japan
Yaeba which translates literally as double tooth is a dental method where the upper canines are capped either permanently or temporarily to create a fanged look. Well, you don’t have to be scared, it’s not a severe dental deformity, and it costs between £130 – £340 for each tooth. This trend was invented by Japanese pop stars and many people in Japan think it’s stunning. Plus women with crooked snaggle teeth are considered to be alluring. The whole thing is to turn an unattractive thing into something famous and beautiful.
Face Tattoos – The Maori
While a smooth, clear face without tattoos is considered a fairly universal standard of beauty, Maori people think otherwise. Maori practices a strange face tattooing traditionally called Ta moko. This face-inking can be done to cover the whole or part of the face. Also, the patterns and positions in which they appear on their face vary (can be curved shapes and spiral-like patterns) depending hugely on rank, social status, power and prestige. It’s not just about getting a face tattoo which can be gotten from anywhere around the globe, the great thing about Maori tattoos is that to this day, no two tattoos are alike.
Maori tattoos are one of a kind and contain a lot of tribal messages though different people tell different stories about the Maori tattoo, including believing it has direct link to beauty and a sense of belonging. Some say it has deeper myths than the ink on their skin, it sure draws attention to the eyes, lips and creates the illusion of beauty. Moko is about uniqueness, glamour and beauty, it’s like a tattoo masterpiece on their skin till they bid this planet their last farewell. And they are always highly intricate and detailed and display the craftsmanship and artistry of not only the artist but of the Maori culture.
Stretched Lips – Mursi Women of Southern Ethiopia
Yet another bizarre body modification regarded as a beauty standard in Africa are the Lip plates or lip disks. This is the most extensive fashion trend worn for centuries in various African and South American communities. Stretching of the lips is common just among women from certain regions (mostly popular among tribal groups of Ethiopia..a tribe in Southern Ethiopia near the border of Sudan). Girls rock these accessories from their teenage years and it is in fact a way they mark a girl who’s going to be a woman. They begin the process of stretching their lower lip when a girl turns 13 and more strangely, the Mursi believe that the size of a dinner plate fits the best.
It’s a painful and awful practice but it evolves a girl into a woman. It is a process that starts with an initial piercing done as an incision on the lower lip of about 1 to 2 cm length, and a simple wooden peg is inserted. Following the healing of wound, they replace one peg with a bigger one, and the stretching process begins all over again. When the hole becomes big enough, they put the first wooden plate, and it’s about 4cm across. But it is the right of the women to choose how long they wish to stretch their lips. In a case where the plate is more than 20cm, women can opt to remove part of their lower teeth (painful). Each woman takes pride in crafting her own plate and including some ornamentation. The final diameter ranges from about 8 cm to over 20 cm.
This practice has a great significance and is part of their wedding ritual. Plus, married women put some food on their plates when serving their husbands a meal. You might find this practice, awful, awkward, and gross but something tells me these women also find the women who paint their lips just as gross as you find them. Today, the custom is still maintained but by a few groups in Africa and Amazonia.
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Kayans live in northern Thailand in villages that are open to visitors. Women in the region put on these insane brass neck coils from their childhood starting from age four or five, replacing it by a longer one and adding more turns. They don’t get to remove their rings even while sleeping. These rings are creating the illusion of longer necks and women wearing these coils are known as “giraffe women” to tourists. There are many stories surrounding the neck rings including one about a legend who says these rings protect women from a tiger’s attack, the one that suggests the neck rings protected women against becoming slaves by making them less attractive to other tribes, one that said that the coils give the women resemblance to a dragon, which is an important figure in Kayan folklore and also one that says it’s only another beauty tradition. But in all, women with long necks seem to be more attractive in the region than ones without neck rings. However, many of the women decline wearing or practicing this tradition today.
Lotus Feet – China
Here is another extreme body modification practiced in the world. In imperial China, people did this painful beauty procedure involving a girl’s feet being bound tightly with cotton strips, wrapping them when they hit five-year old. The wrappings were made as tightly as possible so as not to allow the feet grow. After the entire process, the feet are not able to get their regular shape making it easier to spot women with lotus feet by the manner of their walk. Girls with lotus feet were regarded as more sexually pleasing than girls without and they had more chances of having a prestigious marriage. This crazy fashion trend was finally banned in 1912.
Scarification – Ethiopia’s Karo Tribe
Most people around the globe often times use their bodies to express their cultural identity, status or connection to gods, but scarification process is terribly long, painful and seems somewhat extreme. This process consists of cutting the skin with a sharp instrument, (usually some sort of knife or cut glass) in such a way, to control the shape of the scar in order to create certain patterns.The process is believed to be a form of art, like body decoration. Keep in mind that more and more designs or scars could be added throughout the year. Scarification involves opening of the flesh, application of powerful plant juices and dark pigments onto the wound, such as ground charcoal or, sometimes even, gunpowder. So when the scar heals, it is raised and dark which is called keloids. Normally, Karo women among other reasons scar their chests to look more beautiful, and it’s a part of the ancient ritual. In fact women confess they do it basically to attract men.