Body issues and beauty standards from around the globe may surprise you.
Thanks to fashion magazines, fast food and size-0 actresses, American women live in a crazy funhouse mirror -- the more the obesity rate rises, it seems, the tinier and more unrealistic our idealized standards of beauty become. But is it that way all over the world?
That's the question journalist Julia Savacool wanted to answer when she embarked upon a world tour of body-image issues that became her new book, The World Has Curves: The Global Quest for the Perfect Body, and discovered that, globally, for most women, what determines beauty comes from more meaningful influences than Cosmo. We asked her to tell us about five countries who don't idealize the Keira Knightley physique -- though they each have their own set of body issues.
For the women of South Africa, there was a brief moment in the post-Apartheid 1990s where the emulation of Western culture meant a distinct rise in eating disorders. But since then, a radically different, pro-body-image movement has arisen, due in no small part to the fact that the spread of AIDS has caused thinness to be associated with illness.
"When you lose a lot of weight there, people immediately start asking if you're sick," Savacool said. An interesting consequence of this is that Levi's have begun selling a special cut of jeans to flatter curvier South Africans; the style is not yet available in the United States, but does well overseas.
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Written by Liz Shannon Miller for lemondrop