african beauty south africa
Beauty, Fashion


African Beauty or Western Beauty. Which is better?

What is attractive varies from one culture to another, from one female or male to another and definitely from one historic period to another. In some cultures, facial scarring is attractive, while drooping breasts are attractive to others. Women often go through body enhancement procedures to achieve the desired societal body ideals. These body image enhancement procedures range from traditional approaches (grooming, dieting and exercising) to extreme surgeries  – and can even involve potentially deadly eating disorders (anorexia nervosa and bulimia). It is quite evident that the pressure to conform to the ideal body image can be stressful and has resulted in the majority of women suffering from a negative body image. In some parts of Miami having small breasts is considered a no-no with people looking at girls with small breasts as weird or not able to get with the times. The effect is so bad that a majority of small breasted women in Miami have visited a plastic surgeon for a breast enlargement.


 In the historical context, a core belief of most cultures was that women should display a certain body type as per society standards. It is for this reason that women have constantly tried to look a certain way – a way that is deemed attractive at any given point in time to their surroundings. Failure to conform to the prevailing body ideals always results in some form of image dissatisfaction. The dissatisfaction with how one looks may be a manifestation of several ideals emanating from socialization, culture, peers and the media.


Having small, thin lips is seen as not appropriate in the western world. Here in Africa having big lips is a cultural and beauty norm. It is so normal that it is rare to see a young girl or woman who doesn’t have a thick pair of smackers and if the lips are not as thick, they’re still not as thin. This acceptance of African Lips is not just a black thing; even the majority of Caucasians accept their lips however big or small.

mac cosmetics high drama african beauty african cultures


Today, most women are plagued by the thin-ideal in which a certain thin body size is desirable and because of this, some women spend the majority of their lives dieting, depressed that diets are not working and eventually secluding themselves from life because they think they don’t ‘fit ‘ the ideal of what is expected from them. However, it is evident that this female preoccupation with looks is by no means a recent phenomenon. Body image ideals have always existed in societies and have continued to evolve over time. Whether a woman is seen as appealing or not is largely due to media influences also known as brainwashing and the type of men she wants to date or is attracted to and the type of friends this woman keeps. Beauty is what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, to her culture.

Women tend to internalize this thin ideal and this internalization is a result of individual attitudes that are approved of by significant or respected others. Family, peers and the media – are believed to reinforce the thin body (or current) body image through comments or actions that serve to support and perpetuate this ideal, including teasing women about their weight, encouraging them to diet and glorifying ultra-slim models. If a woman doesn’t not have a strong sense of worth and feel the need to always seek others approval, she will spend her whole life dieting and searching for someone else’s body just to make those around her happy. But so is a bigger woman; when living in a society that doesn’t allow a woman to be thin, she will always be eating and gaining to make her culture happy or the man that finds her plus size body attractive.  For many girls and women in Western cultures, appearance is central to their self-worth. They are socialized early into learning that their bodies should be used to attract others and they learn to see themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated by appearance. You could argue that basic grooming requires people, men and women to look good at all times but…this is different. Ideal beauty is not just grooming and cleanliness, ideal beauty has become synonymous with thinness.

But Is it that different in the African/Western Cultures? Africa women are generally happy with their bodies, it’s when the influence of the media comes into play that they start seeing their bodies as not as attractive. Body image issues also arise when their men start cheating with girls with thinner bodies. When that happens, a woman will always question herself, am I not as attracted? While not all African women go thru this, it was interesting including it in the examples.

The struggle for independence and liberation for women has not been and will NOT be easy.  Society has always used direct and indirect grips to control women’s bodies in one way or the other. So even the greater equality of opportunity for women in recent times has resulted in a cultural demand for women to be thin – political, economic and social gains have coincided with increasing pressure to lose weight. A woman who climbs the corporate ladder is stereotypically expected to look a certain way so even ‘liberated’ women still end up having to conform to a certain ideal

The war on women’s bodies ranges from acts of extreme violence to bills targeting ‘indecent dressing’ to attacks on women wearing mini-skirts. But how do women change their mindsets and start to think more positively about themselves when they have been told time and time again about their beauty and thinness from a very young age? Years of negative reinforcements will not just go away in a minute or a few days or a few months. How women look at themselves will always be a struggle. This struggle is a daily debate and fight. This struggle needs women to understand what they are up against and need to constantly remind themselves that they are their own bosses and that their bodies belong to them and them alone. NOT the media, NOT society AND not their CULTURE. Among-st all the TV adds, perfect looking reality stars and endless dinner conversations on weight-loss, being a strong woman, not afraid to be herself is the most important.


African Beauty FACE:

Eyes – Kylie Royal Peach Palette

Lips: Mac Cosmetics – High Drama

Cheeks: LA Girl Spice Palette

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  1. zana says:

    definitely love the western vs African beauty piece, many times this topic has been debated and even depicted in many media forms. beauty is and might always be in the eyes of the beholder, many examples can be used from stereotypical views from people but the fact will still remain as that. wonderful to see how well you put that.

    living the beauty tips as well especially make-up, I’m on beginner level and so far so good. thanks B.

    1. You are most welcome Zana 🙂 #LOVE

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