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From ABC-CLIO's History Hub website

Padaung girl

As the famous saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." What is considered beautiful to some may not be universally acceptable as attractive to others. Such differences between cultural conceptualizations of beauty are potentially intriguing and exciting, capable of inspiring curiosity and engagement with a larger world. Teenagers are especially fascinated by this topic, as it relates to the formation of personal identity. Fashion trends, jewelry, piercings, and tattoos are all powerful hooks for adolescents interested in subcultures and visual expressions of identity.

Of course, the topic of beauty is also prone to controversy. Chinese footbinding, in which women's feet were deliberately and painfully deformed to acheive the aesthetically appealing "lotus" shape, was practiced for thousands of years before its decline in the 20th century. In modern times, fierce debate continues to rage over the use of the burqa in Islamic societies. While outside observers may be quick to call such practices repressive or cruel, they are often viewed as serving important social or religious functions by the cultures in which they are practiced.

The line between these distinctions is not always clear; but the purpose of these entries is not to pass judgment on any one culture or practice. Rather, they are meant to use the concept of beauty as a stepping stone to explore the history, traditions, and beliefs of different cultures. To that end, this collection provides a wide range of insights into beauty, beauty practices, and standards of beauty around the world.


Beauty around the World
Kenny, Erin, and Elizabeth Nichols. Beauty around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2017.



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Image Credits

Padaung girl: Corel

Select Citation Style: 
MLA Citation
"In the Eye of the Beholder: Exploring Beauty in World Cultures." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, Accessed 23 Aug. 2019.
Chicago Citation
"In the Eye of the Beholder: Exploring Beauty in World Cultures." In History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019. Accessed August 23, 2019.
APA Citation
In the Eye of the Beholder: Exploring Beauty in World Cultures. (2019). In History Hub. Retrieved from
Entry ID: 2193926
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